Title: What a feast...? Location: Quetzaltenango, Guatemala
Well, it has finally happened- I am going through a minor GI upset problem. It started Friday night after our weekly graduation dinner for the students that are leaving the Spanish immersion school. This week it was the students' turn to prepare food for the dinner. Our Spanish language school alternates between students and teachers bringing in typical food from their representative country. We had quite a feast- fruit, pasta salad, vegetarian lasagna with fresh vegetables, chicken and of course plenty of beer from Guatemala. It was an amazing feast- I think we were all craving fruit and wanted anything except bread and beans! Towards the end of the evening, my stomach was aching a little, but I thought that it was related to my sudden consumption of a large meal. I came home to my house around 10 pm and prepared to go to sleep. I was going to wake up at 6 am the next day for a hike up a volcano with some of my friends. Around 12:30 am, I woke with a huge stomach ache. I curled up into a ball in my bed while sweat poured from my head. I didn't have the strength to move. The aching resolved and I was able to return to sleep. However, throughout the night I awoke frequently with stomach cramping.
Finally, at 5 am, I awoke and went to the bathroom. I had a bad stomach upset and I felt better. A little later I made a cup of tea for myself, and had a piece of toast. I took some Tylenol (my entire body felt achy) and napped a little until 9 am. I awoke to my host mom and grandmother eating breakfast. They were surprised to see that I was still around (I had told them the night before that I was going on a walk with some friends) but I explained to them my minor GI upset. They were sympathetic, and offered to make tea for me. I told them I was ok. And really, I was. I felt a little better.
I spent Saturday with my friend Andrea, and we walked around various markets and explored more of Xela. I started to feel bad in the afternoon, so we took a little bus back home and I took a nap. I felt better after the nap, and met up with Andrea in the evening. We went to a cute little cafe that serves amazing food (all fresh and natural). This cafe also provides a movie library, where you can choose the movie that you wish and watch it in a little living room for $1.25. Andrea and I chose this Italian flick called Cine Paraiso that was subtitled in English.
Today I went to Catholic mass at 10:30 am. I have been to mass before while in Nicaragua, but that was in a small little church. Xela has a huge cathedral that has been around for over 100 years. This cathedral is in the main square of the city (called Parque Central). The mass was all in Spanish, but it was pretty easy to follow around since it is very similiar to mass in English. What surprised me was the amount of Mayan people in the congregation. The women and little girls all wore their traditional clothing- with the skirts, embroidered blouses, ribbons in their hair, and a scarf hanging over their shoulder (on some women I see the scarf hanging on their right shoulder, and others on their left- I am not sure why).
After mass had ended, everyone gathered outside of the church. I waited around to see what would happen. I saw a statue of Jesus erected on top of a platform. Beneath the platform ran two long pieces of wood; of which 12-14 men carried the statue of Jesus using the support of the two long pieces of wood. It reminded me of carrying a casket during a funeral procession. There was a band with trumpets, saxophone and percussion. The procession started from the church and wrapped around the main park. I did not follow the entire procession, so I am not sure where it ended. I am not sure why they had the procession (Alfonso, maybe you can give me some insight here).
My stomach is a little touchy today- but no GI distress. I probably got exposed to something through food or water. Although my host mom uses bottled water for drinking, we still wash all of our dishes with tap water. It is pretty common to have amoebas, parasites and worms around here. I plan on going to the pharmacy on Monday and getting a dose of Mebendazole (1 tab in am and pm for three days) and that should cover me for the time I am here. We also have a doctor at our school that can evaluate and run tests if necessary. GI distress happens to everyone, not just the gringos.