Saturday, September 25, 2010

The emergence of Ross (from the bathroom)

Hello! Ross here. Or, as the locals would put it, "Hola! Rrrrrrrrrross aqui". Now that I am no longer spending every waking moment sitting on a toilet moaning helplessly, I decided to seize the opportunity to offer some advice vis-a-vis eating in Ecuador. My advice is: don't. Whether it's breakfast (desayuno), lunch (almuerzo) or dinner (merienda), just don't eat it. It might taste good, but do not be fooled: that's the bacteria's clever evolutionary trick of being delicious so that you eat greater quantities of it. So treacherous is the food, in fact, that I've come up with a warning which, were I president of Ecuador, would be required to be read to all potential victims customers at the country's restaurants by the attending waiter. It is a variation on the Miranda warning, which I shall call the "Merienda warning", and it goes as follows:

You have the right to remain hungry. Should you choose to waive this right, anything you eat can and will be used against you in a toilet of Ecuador. You have the right to speak to a pharmacist. If you do not already know how to use Imodium, you have the right to watch the pharmacist enthusiastically perform a series of unnecessarily graphic mimes with regard to its usage, rather than simply letting you read the multilingual package insert. (This will be done mainly for the amusement of the other customers, who have the right to laugh heartily at your gastrointestinal misfortune.) You have the right to develop a deep and abiding anxiety about any food or condiment that isn't a saltine cracker still tightly sealed in its wrapper. God be with you, amigo.

Because it was vitally important for me to be within fifteen feet of a washroom at all times, we decided to limit our exploring to Ecuador's Andean cities: Quito, Baños (one meaning of which, rather appropriately, is "bathrooms"), and Cuenca. While each was interesting and/or charming in its own way, it was the bus rides between the cities that I enjoyed the most, because the countryside is exceptionally beautiful. Were I to visit Ecuador again I would concentrate instead on the rural areas: the coastal west, the Amazonian northeast, the cloud- and rain forests. I'd go in search of sloths and endangered spectacled bears (endangered, I'm told, because so many of them are switching to contact lenses), I'd fly out to the Galápagos and snorkel with penguins (though, disappointingly, further research reveals that the penguins themselves haven't in fact been trained to use snorkels; they just hold their breath or something, which is much less cute).

Thus my experience in Ecuador must sadly be summed up as "a bit meh", but I blame that on the intestine-dissolving bacteria I acquired immediately upon arrival rather than the country itself, and I look forward to returning some day with a much more fauna- and flora-focused itinerary.

And, of course, a dozen suitcases of saltine crackers. Or an extra-large colostomy bag, if I'm travelling light.

1 comment:

  1. The secret of not getting sick in foreign lands is to drink copious amounts of local alcohol ;) And I am not even kidding. It has been statistically proven. Otherwise your body is missing the essential component, no harmony, hence the sickness.

    Glad you are feeling better !