BE WARNED: fairly gross photos and video below of my bites and their progression day by day.
(If that’s what you came to see, head to the bottom…)
Due to the time of year and the touristy locale, rooms in Cartagena, Colombia, are expensive in January. We chose to rent beds in a four bedroom dorm right in the old town in Cartagena.
The hostel looked great and was kept very clean. We enjoyed our stay there right up until the bites appeared.
(In defense of the hostel, they cannot always control who comes through their doors, and travelers frequently carry bed bugs with them. The staff was very conscientious, and to all appearances, the hostel was well run and clean. Goes to show that you can't judge a book by its cover. Though we wouldn't stay there again, we don't blame the hostel or bear them ill will)
Jess recalls seeing some stains on the sheets in the mornings. We assumed they were from mosquitos and gave them little thought. The morning we left to fly to Medellin, I was feeling a little itchy, but I again chalked it up to mosquitos.
There appears to be an immuno-threshold point for bites. I was taking allergy meds, so it may be that my time to reaction was lengthened. However, both Jess and my bites appeared around the same time: the day after we went diving. I believe the salt water reacted somehow to bring the bites up.
In any case, I had it bad. We estimate over 200 bites across my back, shoulders, arms, stomach, legs, feet and hands. (I guess I roll around a lot while I sleep.) Jess also had bites but far fewer as she sleeps more clothed than I and is generally less reactive to things.
By the end of our travel day to Medellin, I was physically restraining myself from scratching, and after not being able to sleep the entire night, I did some internet research on dosages and bought Prednisone and prescription strength Hydrocortisone at the farmacia. It took another 24 hours or so before I was able to sleep.
I generally am delicious to bugs and have a low tolerance for reactions to this kind of stuff so I think my case was a bit more extreme than normal. It took me about 3 days to stop being itchy and 5 days or so to fully heal.
Now, here’s what you came here to see, the photos and video I took of my bites from the day of their appearance to healing.