Stumble Into Indonesia's Unseen Places
Submitted by mumunmumun on 16 December 2017
I spent about 6 weeks in Banda, Maluku, for iwashere.id and the most memorable experience I brought home are my scars. I don’t mean it in a figurative way, romanticising the experiences good or bad. I literally mean my scars. Coming into 2 weeks back home, I’m still trying to mend them. They’re getting better, but by golly are they annoying!
I had them about 4 weeks in. I didn’t know what caused it. I always thought it would be mosquito bites, since I’m prone to them. But the bumps I had, eventually grew bigger and had puss in them. Yuck! I started to doubt whether mosquitos did this. As a person that is always the first to get bitten, I should know. At one time, I did see some sort of flying ant biting me, but I didn’t think much of it. We’re on an island. There’s gonna be a lot of bugs. I dealt with it.
“It might be sand flies,” a friend said. For a while, I though it was true. It was itchy for quite some time, until puss came out of it. I had doubts. I’ve experienced them before and this wasn’t it.
I tried to heal the wound myself. First with Betadine. It dried up for a short time, until puss came out again. Then I tried the local bee ointment minyak tawon, from my land lady. She insisted in giving me some after refusing me on buying a bottle from her shop. She also offered Dao Da Yao Jing, the Chinese betadine, known to hurt like a bitch but heal like an angel. About a week of all that, even up to a point where the Chinese betadine no longer was a bitch and felt very kind, it still didn’t work. Puss still came out. The smell? Blah!
Ok. It possibly didn’t dry down because I did some swimming in the ocean. Some people say, seawater can get rid of any itch. Myth! It grew bigger from about a dot to a small pearl.
Almost desperate because my scars hurt, itched, kept staining my sheets and my long trousers, I decided to ask for help after about an annoying week. The local doctor happened to be around my work station one day, so I consulted him. He was a gynecologist. He saw my wounds while I told him about the process. He diagnosed that it was just scarring from scratches and didn’t heal because of the seawater or possibly some allergies. The only allergy I have was from cold weather. He gave me two ointments. Gentamicin Sulfate to heal the wound, the other to restore my skin from the scarring.
For a while, it looked like it worked. Out of about 12 scars, 4 small ones healed. The rest was a mess. I told my friend about these scars, a friend that spent quite some time in Banda. He said, he had the same thing when he was there. The medicine was anything that had cetirizine in it. I kinda ignored this for a while, since I had the medicine from the doctor. Wrong move!
“I think it’s from a tomcat bite, Mun,” Windy said, a friend bunking with me the last 10 days. “I did see one in our room before I got rid of it.” I had chills. Tomcat bites are known to eat the flesh up, and it was my case as my wound got deeper. Gah
By this time, I was so ready to get back home, look for something better for my wounds. I rarely want to go home from a trip, but this was one of those rare moments where I really want to meet various options for medication, not that just one. It kinda felt hopeless.
As soon as I got home, I consulted with the nearest doctor.
After telling her my conditions and what I’ve been using the past 2 weeks, she prescribed me with Protocort and antibiotics to drink. I was so glad to be in the city, where options were abundant and easy to access. I felt confident. I used the ointments for about a week and saw some progress. Some wounds healed. Bigger ones, but not entirely. It still had some puss in them and they kept coming apart with every bold move I make. I was so fed up.
Eventually I got news that another friend in Banda caught on the same similar symptoms. She also had puss. But she cured it quickly by putting some amoxicillin on the wound. Because the treatment sounded similar to what my first friend recommended, I though I’d give it a shot. This friend was also body conscious and her skin was very sensitive, so I thought what worked on her might just work on me. I bought a few tablets of Amoxsan, which contains amoxicillin, as suggested by the pharmacist. I took one tablet apart and spread the powder on the wound after putting some virgin coconut oil as suggested by my friend. I also drank a few for inner healing. So far, so good. It’s been about 3 days in and my wounds and smaller, drier, and looks like its getting better.
Island life is tricky. These wounds kinda made me think about actually living on an island, no mater how wonderful I think it is. This was just about an itch from a bug that is very normal anywhere in the world, but the option of having the right medication is kinda what made me put another consideration of living remotely. And it annoys me that the one thing that I have top of mind of Banda are these scars, as long as they aren’t healed just yet.
I also rarely write about the bad things about traveling. So I thought I should. Along with the pictures. Just so people know traveling is not all brim hats and suitcases. Well, at least not for me. I have the scars and I live to tell it.
I recently learned that I was infected by a local bacteria found in the freshwater of Banda. This also is indicated from certain water springs. The bacteria infect open wounds, possibly from my mosquito bites, of those that aren’t locals. Visitors and tourists that genetically hasn’t evolved any immune system towards these bacteria. The cure should be antibiotic ointment and pills.
This clearly isn’t a post about anything of importance. It’s just one of those travel notes that possibly could remind me of this part of my travels in the future and maybe it has some good.