Solitary Confinement

Stewart Decker

 I’ve made a huge mistake, I thought.

The fever had come back. The fever had come back, and I was stuck on a bus. The first of five buses, actually….

I am a fourth-year medical student at the University of Minnesota, but right now I’m a long way from home. I am spending a year in South America, studying international public-health issues by working in emergency rooms, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), social projects and surgical suites.

When this story began, I’d been living in a small, remote town called Central Yuu, in the Ecuadorian jungle, helping the villagers to build a potable-water spring-protection system. It was on a rainy day there that I collected a connect-the-dots pattern of insect bites on my ankles.