Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Reality Check

So far I have been posting about how great our experience has been, but recently we saw the flip side of the coin.  On Sunday we drove someone to the airport in the capital and took a tour around.  Before that, though, we stopped in Valley of the Angels, a tourist-centric town to walk around and get some lunch.  
We think the juice that we had there, or the ice in the juice, was contaminated with something, because the three of us who drank it started feeling a little ill Sunday night and ended up sick as dogs all day yesterday and, for me, into this morning.  We thought we would be ok drinking the juice there because it is such a tourism spot, but it just went to show us that we can never let our guard down.  I don’t think I have ever been that sick before, but then again, I have never contracted a Honduran bug before.  
When I had to leave work yesterday morning, the sisters sent me over to the clinic, where they diagnosed me and Tori as having amoebas, so they treated us with their magnets, gave us a small amount of a mystery liquid in a cup for the pain, and then gave us a few packets of electrolyte mix to drink with lime juice and a liter of water.  
The magnets were...interesting.  They put one on my left temple with a metal head band type thing that stretched across the top of my head, taped three more onto my lower abdomen, and then taped one each onto the sides of both of my hips.  They asked if I had my cell phone, because apparently that messes it up, so I checked the pocket I usually keep it in and didn’t have it so they started the 20 minute countdown.  There was one moment, about five minutes in, when I was pretty startled because I felt my lower abdomen and hips vibrating.  I thought, “Wow, are these magnets really working?!  Is that them compacting the bad stuff? (that’s what they said happens).”  Then a split second later, I realized that I had put my phone into my other pocket and that I was getting a text.  So yeah, I felt pretty stupid.  I respect traditions and alternative medicines, but I have to admit that I’m a little skeptical of these magnets, especially since I felt a lot worse last night.  But, who knows, maybe the magnets kept it from getting even worse.  
So, last night we were all struggling, minus Chris, who hadn’t drank the juice on Sunday.  To make matters worse, Tori stepped on a large green caterpillar with spikes, and somehow it also got into her pants and stung her leg.  She began having pretty bad pain and those areas swelled up, so she called the sisters to see if she was dying from a venomous caterpillar.  One of them showed up here with Mary, the worker in the health clinic, to give her some cream, which made it better almost immediately.  It wasn’t venomous, but Mary said that some people have an allergic reaction to it, while some people, like her sons, aren’t affected at all.
Ranger must have know that the three of us were sick but that Chris was healthy because he tried to even it out a bit.  Chris went out to feed the dog, but didn’t see the package that Ranger had left on the porch, and of course he stepped in it with bare feet.  Later, Chris went out to get a shirt that he had left on his bike and found it in the grass...soaking wet and stained yellow with Ranger juice.  
This morning, when I was still waking up getting sick, I decided to just take some antibiotics the travel clinic back home had given me and see if that helped at all.  I can’t tell if I just have nothing left in me or if the antibiotics are working, but I haven’t been visiting the bathroom since then.  I didn’t take it last night because I knew that it would just go straight through me, but while I was sleeping it slowed down enough to allow me to take it around five in the morning.  
This I will not tell the sisters because they could have given us antibiotics, but they’re apparently broad-spectrum, so they decided to just do the magnet treatment instead.  That and the electrolyte mix, which just tastes like salt water, so I mixed in the limes they had given me.  Unsurprisingly, the citrus in the limes upset my stomach.  They also suggested to drink some basil tea, but I almost vomited when I smelled the basil leaves, so I opted for some Eastern alternative medicine instead and had green tea.  
So, this was a pretty long-winded way to describe us staying home sick.  I swear, I’m not just whining!  I thought all of the alternative treatment stuff, and the bugs (microscopic and caterpillars) we had never encountered before were pretty interesting.  Again, it just goes to show us that we always need to stay cognizant of our surroundings.  We might start to feel at home here, but we have to realize that “home” does not mean the same thing it does in the US. 


  1. Ouch! Maybe the juice was in an 'unclean' container?
    I've heard about the magnets. Apparently it is some form of standard entertainment for local health caregivers when Gringos experience Montezuma's revenge. (joking)
    Hope it is all out of your system by now and you're recovering.
    BTW, sounds like Ranger and Lady would get along just fine. And, tell Chris to stop walking around barefoot.

  2. Matthew, I hope that all of you are feeling better. Lucky for Chris! We tried calling you tonight but couldn't get through. I hate to hear those things, but I guess that can be expected. As wou said, you'll have to be on guard. I am excited for you that your teaching experience will start soon. You will be GREAT! Hi to all of your housemates and stay healthy! Love Mommy

  3. A slice of life that reinforces the marvels of modern infrastructure we take for granted up here. Very sorry to read the struggles, Matthew... I hope the events can help avoid similar future circumstances. You are definitely in a 2-way learning experience!

  4. Thanks! We're all doing better now, but experiences like these are definitely one of the things that makes you compare the two lifestyes.
    So...tonight our dog got into the back area where he's not supposed to be and almost got into the house before we caught him (yes, him and Lady would get along very well), and as I was literally dragging him out, I put my hand on the cement part of the fence. It was dark so I couldn't see what was there, but I found out pretty quickly...definitely one of those nasty green caterpillars with the spikes.
    According to Mary, it's an allergic reaction, and fortunately I must not be allergic to it, because all I felt was a little tingling afterwards, whereas Tori described her encounter as the most painful experience of her life. I tried telling her that it was all mind over matter, but I don't think she bought it, she just seemed a little ticked that I didn't have to go through the same pain.

  5. Oooo, somehow I think the 'mind-over-matter' phrase will be one that Tori has now stored away ready to lob back at you...

  6. Expect some trouble from Tori for awhile for that comment, Matthew... Your dad has clearly not given you the scoop on the perils of ribbing the ladies.