Sickness

Rachel Swartz - Ecuador


April 1, 2015

Sickness Day 1 – Started From the Bottom

I awoke with a jolt during my first night living in San Pedro de Aucaparte. My cloth window had been blown across my bedroom allowing steady gusts of wind and rain make their way into my room. The pitch black was emphasized when the lightning hit, illuminating every corner of my room and shaking my mosquito net.

I awoke the next morning from what little sleep I did get, with a cold sweat beading down my forehead, and pain like needles in my stomach. My mosquito net was my force-field; it kept me hidden away from these strangers- mi familia?

Sickness Day 2 – Isolation

They didn’t know me, and I didn’t know them. How could they possibly know how I felt? They didn’t say but four words to me and I had been there almost two days. I felt guilty just sitting in bed all day. I imagine they were wondering why I didn’t just push through and go to work.

Sickness Day 3 – Treatment?

From cleaning my body with Ortiga (stinging nettles) to rubbing my head with three white stones, and a mixture of various medicinal herbs soaked in grain alcohol ‰ÛÓ they had finally exhausted all possible forms of medicine that they knew of.

Sickness Day 4/5 – Confusion

Dark crescent moons sulk below my eyes. My skin has broken out in red bumps from the Ortiga. My body is weakened by my inability to keep food in my system. Fever Р103.6䋊.

And the bugs‰Û_. oh the bugs.

I was an outsider. I didn’t understand why they had to blow cigarette smoke in my face. I thought it was absolutely ridiculous when they told me the source of all my symptoms lead back to sleeping with the fan on.

Most of all didn’t understand how I could possibly last here after this week.

Sickness Day 6 – Recovery

Fever broke.

Anti-Parasite Medicine Kicks In.

Sickness Day 7– Clarity

The sickness kicked me clear out of my comfort zone and straight on into culture shock. As I searched for a sense of comfort or familiarity I put myself in a bubble. In this bubble the concept of “curiosity before judgment” is lost.

I was 6 days overdue for a shift in paradigm.

They looked at me with the same look new parents give their baby when they cough for the first time.They were scared and tried to help in the ways they knew how, and I see that now.

Just because I didn’t agree with something – or had never heard of it before – that doesn’t make it bad or good, just different‰Û_ and that is ok.

Rachel Swartz