No Mas, No Mas: Food Poisoning in Peru

Isla de Sol, Lake Titicaca, Peru

A couple of years ago, I was on a home stay with a family. At dinner time, I retreated with the other women to the back of the house into the mud hut that served as an outside kitchen. I had to squat to get in the door and sat on a spare stool while the family matriarch, Yolanda, cooked for her husband first, then the rest of us: her daughter (named Yolanda too), her sister, herself and me. It was vegetable stew and the water must not have been hot enough to boil. It didn’t taste right going down, but I didn’t want to offend them, so I slurped it up. I was then dressed in the local attire and herded down to the town square with the daughter Yolanda to a weekend dance.

The festivities consisted of holding hands and running in circles while drinking orange Fanta. It was not a good combination: sweetness and spinning. I felt bad about tearing the teenage daughter away from the dance, being it was the weekly entertainment on this island of 700, but things in my stomach region were seriously amiss. I made it back to our abode and upstairs to my bedroom, but kept my hiking boots on all night since every 15-20 minutes I ran out the door heaving into a chamber pot. Oh yes, no indoor plumbing, instead there was an outhouse in the field with the pigs, which I visited frequently. (This episode is the sole reason I always carry a headlamp, instead of a flashlight.)

The next morning I was up at 5:00 am, pack on, ready to walk down the mountain to the boat to take me back across Lake Titicaca. Even during the 1-hour walk down the mountain I was still getting sick, leaning over the mountain path, trying to balance my pack on my back as I pitched forward. And I was constantly crying too. I was that miserable. Once on the boat, I wrapped myself in filthy blankets (I was shivering uncontrollably with a fever at that point) and slept it off for the next several hours, which was a huge bummer since we were exploring the Famous Floating Islands at that point – the whole reason I wanted to visit Lake Titicaca in the first place – Argh! 

This entry was posted on Wednesday, May 13th, 2009 and is filed under Food & Drink.

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