Montanita, Ecuador: Part 2


To those who subscribe to our emails, Montanita Part 1 was sent out incomplete. If you missed the ending to the story of our arrival, you can read the full post here.

Imagine sitting at your favorite hole in the wall restaurant, where the expensive dinners cost $4. You finish your meal and find your "amigo" to pay him, and hand him 10 dollars. He wanders into the back, presumably to get change. The you hear a loud commotion and all of the staff leave the front of the restaurant. This was the scene at the conclusion of our otherwise typical dinner.

We heard a loud yell and some commotion. A few other family members who work at the restaurant walked into the back of the neighboring restaurant.The man we gave our money to sprinted out the door and down the street yelling something about change. Daniel and I looked at each other. "I don't think he's going to get change... they never run that fast for change," I said.

Daniel had the gut feeling that something was wrong, and was sitting on the edge of his seat. The man returned shortly in a taxi and ran back into the house. A minute or so later, he emerged at the doorway attempting the carry the neighboring restaurant's owner, who was completely unconscious. Daniel ran faster than I have ever seen him move to help him carry the man to the taxi. All I could think of is, "Oh crap, I am the only medically trained person here, and I am going to have to figure out how to do CPR in the back of a taxi!" I managed to find out that the man was still breathing, although very shallow. Daniel and the other person helping carry him managed to get him pushed into the back seat of the cab, which is when we realized that Daniel had blood all over his shorts. Someone slid into the cab under the unconscious man for the ride to the hospital.

It turns out that the man had cut his wrist and was bleeding profusely. In the kitchen, they wrapped it tightly with a rag, and Daniel was able to conjure the word "Arriba!" (up!) and instruct the person to elevate the man's arm before they took off toward the hospital. We immediately went back to our room, cleaned Daniel and his clothes, and took a few minutes to calm down from the adrenaline. Amazingly, all of the blood came out of the clothes and a very minimal amount of blood came in contact with his skin. Regardless, I am very happy that we opted to get all of our vaccinations updated prior to traveling.

There were no ambulances, police, firemen, or paramedics... just an unconscious man bleeding all over the back of the taxi heading to the hospital. Everyone acted as if nothing unusual had happened at all. The next day, we ate there for lunch and the incident was not acknowledged at all until we paid. They gave us the $2 we were owed off of our meal, and we asked if the man made it to the hospital in time. It turned out that he was sleeping upstairs.

I got sick two days later. I didn't have much of an appetite all day, and started to feel terrible during our afternoon class. I went back to our room around 5:00pm, skipped dinner, and laid in bed. My entire body ached, I was feverish, and my stomach was off. At around 5:30am, I woke up with intense stomach pains. I went to the bathroom, stood up to get back in bed, and proceeded to get so weak, dizzy, and sweaty that all I could do was lay on the floor and cry. My muscles and bones were aching. My head was throbbing. I didn't want to take any medicine out of fear that my stomach would get worse.

I woke Daniel up after a few minutes (he sleeps like the dead) to help me get back in bed and find some gatorade. I was miserable for the rest of the morning, and it was an easy decision for me to skip class. Since we are the only people in our class this week, the teacher obviously asked where I was. When Daniel started describing what my symptoms were, the teacher told him that she thought I had dengue.

It's been awhile since I've studied dengue fever, but I knew that it was a tropical disease transmitted mosquitoes in developing countries. There is no vaccine and no treatment, it just has to run its course. Two people who work at the school had been diagnosed with dengue a few weeks earlier, and there are a few PSA fliers about it posted around town. I could go to the hospital to have blood drawn to be diagnosed, but I decided against it. I figured that since the treatment is rest, tylenol, and hydration, there was no reason to expose myself to other hospital germs and risk having a needle stuck in my arm by someone who doesn't know what they are doing just to have them say, "yes, you have dengue".

In the afternoon, I decided that it would be a good idea to try and eat something. I sent Daniel to the same restaurant to get some plain white rice. The man, of course, asked why he wanted plain rice and where I was. "Ella esta enferma." "Tiene dolor de estomago?" "Si..." and the man ran into the house, not even allowing Daniel to finish describing the symptoms. He yelled for someone to go upstairs and get something, and came out with a mug with some liquid in the bottom. He proceeded to pour a huge packet of a salty powdery substance in, and squeezed two limes into it. It foamed, and he instructed Daniel to bring it back to me with the rice and that my stomach would feel better.

So here I am, laying in bed, waiting on Daniel to come back with my rice when he steps into the doorway carrying the mystery remedy. It looked pretty sketchy... a little bit of cloudy, foamy liquid at the bottom of a mug with chunks of lime pulp and seeds stuck to the side of the glass. I could have dumped it, but I felt guilty since the man was nice enough to go through the trouble of making it for me. I managed to choke down about half of it, and it was quite possibly the nastiest, most salty and sour thing I have ever consumed. Miraculously, my stomach felt entirely better about 30 minutes later. I managed to eat the rice for lunch and have a normal dinner that night. I don't know what was in that mug, but it worked! I spent a few more days generally run down, but was back to normal after about 3 days.

The rest of our time in Montanita was significantly less eventful, and will be covered in Part Three.