Last night was such a beautiful night, with a clear sky and a half moon as the only source of light. I was sitting on the mountain grass, facing the valley below me where I could see the lights of the city of Cuenca, and looking up at the stars, when I just couldn’t help myself but throw up.
For context, I had woken up at around 7:00am with a terrible headache and a stomachache to match, though I never really found out the reason for either. Initially, I was able to use my phone and read a bit, but after about an hour I couldn’t do either. I found myself alone with my own thoughts for hours on end.
At about 10:00am, my host sister came into my room and found me lying there unable to move. She rubbed something gel-like from a can onto my forehead to help the pain, and went to tell my mother. She came about an hour later, equipped with a whole unboiled egg. I had no idea what was going on, but I am pretty sure it was no hallucination that she rubbed the egg all over my stomach and head. She then left, and I was alone with my own thoughts (and confusion) once more.
I could not sleep, move, open my eyes, listen to music, or do anything really for those hours. And, except for the pain, it was a much needed break towards the end of my immersion week with my host family, as all I could do was think. I find it sad that time for just thinking is such a luxury, as I thought about just about everything I had the capability to think of. Whatever randomly popped into my mind had the right to stay there for up to two hours at a time. I am more at peace with my world today than I have been in a very long time.
Around 1:00pm, my mother returned with my aunt, grandmother, and sister, and they all sat around and tried to figure out what was wrong with me. I couldn’t get out more than a couple sentences without sobbing for some reason, which led them all to believe I had fallen ill because of stress. I had no clue why I was crying, but just let it happen as it came, as trying not to cry was so much harder than just letting the tears fall. As they tried to figure out how to help me, I tried describing Advil, Ibuprofen, or Aspirin to them, any of which would have been more effective than rubbing another egg on my head, and eventually, a google image search convinced my mother to give me a pink pill which I believed helped more than anything else.
My aunt, however, was not having it. She was convinced it was stress, and decided that a neck massage would fix everything. The conversation, went a bit like this (with terribly fast Spanish on her side, and just terrible Spanish on mine):
Aunt: “It will”
As you can guess, I lost the argument.
After the most painful neck massage of my life, in which if I said something hurt she would press harder on it, I was instructed to go to sleep, which I did surprisingly well. I woke up around 3:00pm, with a much better head and the ability to move. I stumbled to the kitchen, just happy to be vertical, and ate my first and only meal of the day: a version of chicken noodle soup with tea.
When I returned to my room, I was actually able to read once more, and even edited a majority of a video I had been working on. I happily messaged friends and family until it was dark outside, and my stomach began to act up again. Thankfully, my head allowed me to carry on with what I was doing, but I eventually gave up at about 9:00pm, knew I had no choice of what was to come, and went outside to sit on the hillside.
Looking at the beautiful stars, and knowing the ugly that was coming soon enough, I enjoyed the luxury of thought for just a bit longer, knowing how lucky I was to have a day devoted to myself. I sat in the cold grass, listening to the echoes of cows in the valley and watching the clouds roll over the moon, blacking out the world for a few moments.
And with that, I lost my lunch.