From the first day in Quito Dan had been having a hard time getting a full breath, and on the Andes Trek he paid dearly for not being able to breathe well. But we assumed those cases were because of the high altitude, so we waited until Sao Paulo to do anything about it. Sao Paulo is around 750 feet elevation, so when Dan still not could not take a full breath well, we figured we needed to do something about it before Kilimanjaro altitudes. We had signed up with IAMAT so we decided to use it. We called the local number for the IAMAT doctor and he answered the phone right away. When he noticed I was speaking in English he changed to perfect English, and told me to come in whenever we could get there and he would fit me in. We hired a hotel car and they took us across town to his office -- it was a completely unmarked house in the middle of what looked like a regular neighborhood. The barred gate was locked, and the receptionist had to unlock it to let us in. Once inside it looked like any doctor's office/waiting room. Dr. Konrad came out and welcomed us into his office and talked with us for a while. He had lived in Sao Paulo for 44 years but studied in the US and speaks 4 languages fluently. He checked me out and determined that although I had lots of phlegm in my lungs I had no other serious symptoms. He said that it was probably my body's reaction to the pollution in Quito and Sao Paulo and then the altitude brought out the worst of the symptoms -- inability to fully inflate the lungs. He prescribed a standard expectorant, talked to us some more, then let us go. We paid the standard $55 IAMAT fee and were on our way. Unfortunately, the expectorant had little to no impact and the breathing remained an issue (see Worst Medical Crisis).
We had bought our own tickets from Quito-Sao Paulo, since no One World airline covered that leg. There are no direct flights and we had options of flying through Columbia, Panama, or Lima, Peru. We chose Lima because it was the most direct route. We flew Servensa airline to Lima. We were the only people in business class (no first class) -- and no flight attendant spoke English. When we got into Lima, the airport looked very old and had lots of cargo planes all over. When we got off the bus to the terminal, Kristen fortunately heard a guy say something about Sao Paulo/Rio. He spoke no English, but we saw that he had a list of names, including ours, on a piece of paper. He said to follow him. He walked us right around customs (no one seemed to notice), made us get our bags (even though we thought they were checked all the way through to Sao Paulo), then leave them at the conveyor belt (unattended) and then he took our passports, tickets, immunization cards, dropped us at the VIP lounge and somehow communicated that he was going to his office. We felt completely naked! The VIP wench asked for our passports or tickets to authorize us to be in the lounge, and we had difficulty explaining to her that we had none of that, and that some guy had them (she spoke no English). Finally we gave her our boarding passes for the previous flight, and she seemed pacified. We sweat it out in the lounge, hoping the guy with our life documents was legitimate. About 20 minutes before the flight took off, the guy came in with our baggage claim tickets, our boarding passes, our passports stamped, and everything we needed to get on our way. Fortunately, this was a legitimate, though pretty sketchy process.
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