Alicia, Student Blogger: Week 2, part 1 in Ecuador

I had a rough week, and would have preferred to be at home with my family, but I survived it!

Day 7

We didn’t have classes today; the city basically shuts down (schools, some jobs) to promote travel and tourism for the independence holiday that was a few days ago.  The two other students in the house and I met up with two other students to take the bus north.  We got off of the bus close to the soccer stadium, which I cannot wait to visit in late June to see a game.  Our gameplan was to check out Parque Metropolitano, one of the largest parks in Quito.  I was super excited, but ran into some troubles.

Background info: my tummy was upset from the time I got up in the morning.  It seemed to be stable enough to go out and about, and I didn’t want to miss out on spending time with the group and seeing the park.  Walking up the streets, and then the hills to get to the main part of the park was rough, though.  I’d only been in Quito for a week, and it became very apparent that I was not accustomed to the altitude yet.  My asthma set in, worse than it’d been in a while.  I was fine (as in not actually dying), and everyone was incredibly patient with me, stopping every few blocks for me to catch my breath.

It was a beautiful walk up, and the park at the top was full of families and dogs enjoying themselves.  I excused myself to settle my tummy, and then the others decided to do a walk/hike.  I decided to sit under a tree and enjoy the weather while they did that, which was a nice break.  There were lots of street dogs, as well as lots of pet dogs.  Later, I found out that there is a dog park, too, which explains the incredible amount of dogs!  My friends did manage to locate three llamas on their walk; supposedly there is a whole herd in this large park.  We bought fresh juice for some quick energy, and walked back down, which made me feel much better.  More oxygen, less exertion, etc…

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I picked at my lunch, and my tummy grumbled more…  We walked around the familiar part of town for a while, which was nice.  The three of us girls were going to get our nails done, but I passed because the line was so long.  Jason and Julia went to start celebrating Julia’s last night, and those of us from the same house came back for dinner.

When we got to the house, I instantly got the chills and my stomach practically turned itself inside out, which was quite unpleasant… I went downstairs for dinner, but quickly left with some bread and “feel better” wishes from the family.  Sadly, I could not go to celebrate Julia’s last night, and I spent the night trying to sleep and dealing with my fever and upset stomach.

Day 8

Unfortunately, I was sick all day this day.  I cycled between chills and sweats all night, and lost lots of fluids because of the state of my stomach.  The family was very sweet; they gave me more bread to munch on, since I couldn’t eat much.  There’s a tea for everything here, so they mixed an oregano tea bag and one of apple and honey, which they said should help.  It didn’t make it worse, that I do know.  I went back to bed for the day, and only left to gingerly walk down the street and buy some Sprite.  Mom knows best, and she always gives us flat Sprite when we’re sick at home.  Rob also gave me a rehydration packet, which I think is mostly salt, that you mix with water- it’s supposed to help you regain electrolytes.  I made it to dinner long enough to eat a bit of soup, and some eggs mixed with rice.  The family also gave me a pill for stomach ache, which I do think helped some.  My tummy continued to twist and turn, however, and it was another long night…

I knew that this meant I couldn’t go on my excursion to the Quilotoa crater lake the next day, which made me sad, but there wasn’t much to do about it.  Sadly, I have no pictures for this day.

Day 9

The night was still not great, but my fever clearly went down, which allowed me to sleep more comfortable between trips to the bathroom.  The family asked, the other students asked, my parents asked, and I still don’t know what made me sick.  I don’t think it was food.  I believe that I just caught a nasty bug, started getting sick on Friday, and the activity just set it off Friday night.

I ate my bread and drank my oregano tea for breakfast, and the family gave me more medicine.  They gave me more of the one, for stomach pain, and another for, well, diarrhea, which helped lots.  Thankfully, they gave me enough for the day, so that I didn’t have to buy more until the next day.

**FOR FUTURE TRAVELERS: The medicines I took were Sertal, for stomach pain, and Diaren, for diarrhea.  Neither are sold in the USA, but they were lifesavers!!  You can buy them at any pharmacy, and I bought 18 of one and 20 of the other for like $9.50.  I talked with Jason, who’s a nurse, to make sure they’re safe to take together, and he said they’re really good medicines.  Between the two, they had an antibiotic that only works in your gut, meaning that it doesn’t work in the rest of your body unnecessarily.  There was also an antispasmodic, which means that it calms the movements of your gut and helps keep you out of the bathroom, which I desperately needed.  I read reviews of them, and there are people who have these medicines sent to the States by family in Latin America; they claim that they work better than anything they’ve been given in the States.  They weren’t a miracle, but they’re worth knowing about, as I couldn’t find Imodium in the pharmacies here.

I was able to sit up and watch movies today, and talk to Mom and Dad on the phone.  At this point, I really wanted to go home.  I was concerned about becoming dehydrated and I was scared that I’d get sick again in the future, an experience that I’d rather not repeat…

Obviously, I didn’t buy any plane tickets home, but I was definitely homesick.  I ate my soup for dinner, and tried to sleep enough to feel better, as we had class the next morning.  Sadly, I don’t have photos for this day either, besides this one.

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Day 10

I slept!  I was only up twice, and I slept like a normal human being.  This, plus the medicines that I was taking, made me feel better.  The housemate who I usually walk with had afternoon classes, so I bought more medicines and Gatorade, and then took a taxi to school.  Usually we walk, but I didn’t want to upset my stomach on the walk and be in a bad situation.

Jason, my saving grace during this week, went to eat with me after class.  He checked out my medicines, and told me that I probably just had Montezuma’s Revenge (aka: Latin American traveler’s diarrhea).  Harmful: not really.  Miserable: definitely.  We went to a Chinese restaurant, where I ate Chinese chicken soup.  Not quite like Mom’s, but it was easy on my stomach.

I took another taxi back to the house, and the driver was my favorite so far.  He asked me lots of questions, was very welcoming and interested in my life and why I’m here.  I managed to eat some of all of my dinner: soup, broccoli, and an omelette.  Being able to eat more helped me feel better, too, but it took several days to be able to eat as much as my appetite demanded.

Day 11

Feeling even MORE human!!  And I even got jelly with my bread again, so I guess the family thinks that I’ll live, too.  My teacher was in the hospital today, she hurt her back it sounds like.  Because of this, my classes got moved to the afternoon with another student and a different teacher. I went back to bed for a while, then decided to be productive.

The family does our laundry once a week, but the rain had thrown off the schedule.  It rained yesterday, and the laundry got wet, so they couldn’t wash ours today.  Plus, they didn’t do my laundry my first week since I’d only been there for a few days. Sparing the details, I was short on undies.  Really short.  So I took my shower, and washed them in the shower, since there isn’t hot water for the sink.

After a quick stop at the supermarket, I met with two other students for lunch.  We went to an awesome vegetarian restaurant close to school.  They have a restaurant, or a market-type option.  The food is set out, and you bring it to them to either cook or warm up.  I had vegetarian lasagna, with noodles and tofu (maybe sausage, couldn’t tell) and a fantastic sauce, and I’ll be going back for an apple turnover another time as well.

Class was fun, as the other student and I are at different levels of Spanish.  To benefit both of us, we watched music videos and Family Feud, or 100 Latinos Dicen (100 Latinos Say).  We talked lots and it was light on grammar, which is always a welcome break.  We also had an excuse to take a taxi back to the house: it was raining.  Dinner was delicious, as always, with tomato soup, rice and beans, and juice.  The family says juice is bad for the stomach when you’ve been sick, and I would agree with that, so I still can’t have my juice for dessert.

Day 12

Breakfast was bread with a slice of ham (I can’t have my fruit, either).  We don’t deviate from our usual foods for breakfast, sometimes there’s cheese too, or sometimes bologna. The fruit changes too, but the plan is the same.

My professor was back today, with a cold and a hurt back, poor woman… She was a trooper!  Today was a tasting day, the topic was sweets.  I had to buy Espumilla to share, which is similar-ish to a whipped cream.  It’s made by whipping together, by hand or machine, guava, eggs, and sugar.  It’s usually served with sprinkles and blackberry sauce, and it’s pretty cheap. I bought a cup for $0.50.   There were chocolates, saltier treats, and liquor-filled candies (strange, I know).  Hide those candies from the kids, folks.

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We couldn’t manage to find the market we wanted to eat at, so we ate at a chicken restaurant instead.  The roasted chicken, soup, and rice were delicious.  They also served a boiled potato (very typical), with mayonnaise on top.  I didn’t like that as much, I prefer cheese sauce on my boiled potatoes.  Fred and Jason went to check out some volunteer opportunities, and I went to buy some things I needed.  With the current laundry crisis, plus being sick (which makes fabric smell like germs), I needed more pants to sleep in.  I found a lovely store that sells these neat pants for $5, they’re super soft and I could wear them out during the day, too.  I also bought more socks and an umbrella, both for obvious reasons.

The rest of the night was uneventful, for the most part.

 

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