Back in La Paz and a lot can change in two years. Not only has the city changed (WHITE TELEFERICO ANYONE) but so have I. My mind is in a way different space. I have overcome a year of anxiety and depression…2016…what a crappy year. I am more serious than the doe-eyed 21-year-old who arrived two years ago with an eager heart to serve others. With that said, we can totes talk about all those details later…why did I come the first time? Why did I come the second time? Right now we have to address more pressing issues…such as the fact that I am 97 percent sure I found parasites in my poop like over an hour ago (writing this on 4/6/17) and all I could think was “here we go again.”
Week three in La Paz and I have introduced what I am sure are pinworms into my system. The thing with living in a developing country and contracting any infection or sickness of the sort is that the patient zero or “epicenter,” as I like to refer to it, is hard to place. After my encounter of a strange kind with the alleged parasites, my mind flooded with a million possible ways I could have contracted them:
- Perhaps it was that bag of uncleaned coca leaves I got from that lovely hostel owner during my trip to Isla del Sol.
- Or it could have been from my first week when I decided to make tea using boiled tap water as opposed to bottled water.
- Or it could have come from contact with one of the many impoverished children I interact with almost daily.
- Perhaps I didn’t clean one of my veggies or fruits well.
- Or from contact with a dog or another adult.
The listicles and possibilities are endless. You may be grossed out but I can tell you that is the life I live. Although I’m bummed I may have intestinal parasites, I am not shocked. I expected to contract parasites…though not this soon. I am curious about food, people and experiences. The more curious you are, the more costs you have to count for your curiosity. Some of those costs includes sickness: parasites, diarrhea, etc.
So what did I do next? As coolheaded as I would like to be…I ran over to Papa Google to find a natural remedy**. What I found, or did not find, only reassured the fact that I would have to return to the U.S. with plus ones in my body. Another cost of living in a developing country, especially one what is not too keen on commerce with certain countries***, is that you have to do without certain “basics.” Such as Dove hypoallergenic soap, ground turkey, wormwood, and grapefruit seed extract****. So I despaired a bit, missed the comforts of home (being able to have anything at the click of a “confirm order.”), and went to my local clinic to submit a stool sample.
In this case I am lucky because the remedy (medicine) I need is available but not in the way I would like. Making do with the little I have is something I learned during my first stay in Bolivia. Surprisingly, the minimum always ends up being enough. I realize that I do not need half of what the media, and my envious nature, offers me on a daily basis. Upon returning home after my first couple of months in La Paz two years ago, I remember feeling drowned by the overload of options at the aptly named Giant Food store near my house. I solely needed the bare necessities. Although visiting Giant still overwhelmed my senses, within time I sort of adjusted. For my second visit to La Paz, I looked forward to having access to those bare necessities. I knew I could “go without,” adjust quickly, and actually be truly happy.
Parasites are the worst. Update on that in future posts.
Do you have any South American travel stories to share? Please email email@example.com and I would love to highlight your story on the blog.
**I like to go the natural route before using medicine. Anticucho
***ahhhemm…US (Bolivia is not too keen on US business).
****Natural remedies to get rid of pinworms.
Photo details: March 25, 2017 at Isla del Sol on Lago Titicaca, Bolivia.