After my jungle adventure, my feet were in agony from the numerous mosquito bites that populated them. I sought relief in various ways and finally decided to get some anti-itch cream. Apparently you can’t get simple, over the counter, medications at grocery stores, convenience stores or mom-and-pop places in Peru. Instead, you must visit a pharmacy (botica). I found one in Iquitos and had to wait to speak with the attendant. I was told that they don’t have anti-itch cream. The only anti-itch medication available was in pill form. This struck me as odd, but I was suffering so I took the slip they gave me and headed for the other line. There, I got 3 or 4 tablets and instructions on how to take them. I have no idea if the tablets helped or if the mosquito bites simply wore off on their own. My feet are fine now.
Back in Lima I got a cold. I wanted something for my scratchy throat. In the U.S., I could visit various grocery stores or convenience stores and buy any number of throat lozenges. Here I had to look around for a pharmacy. It was around 8:30 in the morning and the first one I found was closed. The second one was open and there were two attendants. One was busy with some sort of paperwork and the other was busy helping another customer. I waited for my turn – and waited and waited. I don’t know what the woman in front of me needed but the attendant kept asking her for information, mostly numbers. This went on for a while and I was ignored. Finally, I’d had enough and walked out. On the main street I found another pharmacy that was open. An attendant was available for me and I told her I just needed something for my throat. She suggested a large bottle of syrup, which was expensive and probably overkill; all I had was a cold. I told her I’m not in the hospital, I’m not bed-ridden and I don’t need any sort of major medication. I just needed something to soothe my throat. She asked me for how many days and I guessed that 3 would be enough. She then produced several pills and told me to swallow one every 8 hours. I guess you can’t get throat lozenges in Peru.
My guess is that the high profile of cocaine here, and the proclivity to use recreational drugs that comes with it, has lead to an attitude of extreme caution, with the public, when it comes to all drugs. Also, at some point there may have been a problem with foreigners walking into drug stores to buy pain-killers or other medications that are highly regulated in the U.S. This might have led the U.S. to pressure Peru into being more strict about such things. Just a guess.