Saturday, March 2, 2013

Day 170 Forced Rest

Finally, Ecuador presented itself beneath my eager feet, in a soft warm rain and a lot of mud in an oversized world.  At first, I thought that the leaves on some of the undergrowth were big enough to diaper a baby, then saw others I thought big enough to blanket a baby, then others big enough to blanket me.  Always interesting.

My last night in Peru was spent in a village called San Ignacio de Loyola, my old friend from Spain.  I read his autobiography a few years ago and read of our commonality... severe stomach pain during a pilgrimage.  I experienced it first when I went to Santiago de Compostella, again in Crimea, and lastly in Istanbul.  I thought I had it beaten, attributed to Vitamin A D E or K deficiencies and affecting the upper digestive track.  I try to be careful about what I eat, but it's not always easy when you eat as the locals.  The Peruvian countryside diet is very meager in fat and meat.  When I arrived in Ecuador, an entirely different plate was presented - fresh whole milk instead of canned sweetened evaporated milk, 5 or 6 ounces of beef rather than an ounce or two of guinea pig or chicken in soup... richness.  I ate a rather small portion - the priest kept insisting 'eat, eat', but by nightfall, I was flat out with a rock in my stomach.  I made it through the night but in the morning, the folks at the parish office called the doctor (housecall!).  He gave me the magic shot in the rear, which arrested the constant vomiting, and prescribed rest.  I thought that would be that, as it was on the other occassions, and after a calm and restful second night in the same bed, I set off with the blissful satisfaction that it had passed.  Fooled!  Another small meal of beef and rice and milk in my coffee was enough to cause another fitful, painful sleepless night.  After walking some distance by foot, I moved ahead a town by bus at the insistance of the (rather frightened) parish priest to a hideous tourist town of expat Americans and Brits but with a regional hospital.  There, after a refreshing bag of intravenous saline, they diagnosed it as gastritis and sent me off with some tablets to set me right.  Poor Saint Ignacious, what was he to do when moving from one gastronomic palate to another?

I now have a map of Ecuador and am working out a route that includes the famous sanctuaries and historic places and will rest for the day before continuing on my pilgrimage tomorrow, after days of interruption.  Life's still good, of course, loving the pilgrim way.

I can't say for sure, of course, but I think I'm at the halfway point at just over 7,000 kms.  In Peru alone, I passed more than 3,400, more than any other single country I've walked through.  Immediately in Ecuador, the ugliness of 'gringo' is gone and people are far more inclined to smile and greet me as I do them.  Nice.

7 comments:

John Zorn said...

A town in Ecuador with US and Brit expats? The mind boggles. I wonder if they learn Spanish, as they don't in Spain?

Pity about the stomach ache - it's so debilitating when walking.

Wise to bus ahead a bit.

Sheila Phelan Wright said...

Hope the day's rest will help.Glad those folks are around to help you out, get you on a bus, and provide some nourishment. Those US and Brit ex-pats sure get around. Take care.

Amy R said...

Hello, and so good to hear from you. Leaves the size of blankets! I am so sorry you're sick, but SOOOO glad to hear that folks are greeting you in a normal way again.

Margaret Meredith said...

Glad that you are feeling better! I still remember that first attack on route to Santiago in Santo Domingo. Ultreia!

ksam said...

Happy to see that your at least able to get moving again. Nothing worse than being so ill so far from home. Even happier of the change in the personal climate. Bit worrisome reading about the Gringo bit. Buen Camino.

Anonymous said...

Fantastic to hear from you, Ann - as always! We're always telling folks about your trekking, & getting an enthusiastic reception. Suggestion: Our Lady of Good Success (Quito) in the Royal Conceptionist Convent - ? Interesting story & beautiful statue! Agnes

Winter Pilgrim said...

I visited all of the major churches in Quito and at the gilded Compaña de Jesus, built by the Jesuits, the sacristan came out a few minutes before Mass was to begin looking for readers. No one volunteered, which upset him greatly, so looking around, I stood up to take up the task - gulping at the thought of reading in Spanish at the pulpit in front of maybe 400 people - but when I told him I speak with an accent, he dismissed me for lacking the desired 'clear, strong castillano'. Ah well. Visiting the impressive colonial monuments was enjoyment enough.