And now, a parable

Trip Start Feb 03, 2006
Trip End Jun 20, 2006

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Flag of Nicaragua  ,
Saturday, March 11, 2006

Once upon a time, not so very long ago, there was a small boy named Andrew. Now, in actuality, Little Andrew was really not so small at all, but for the purposes of our story, let us imagine a small, innocent boy.

Like many boys, Little Andrew was quite curious, much like a monkey you may know. While Little Andrew was curious about many, many things, he was extremely curious about two things--food and travel.

Little Andrew loved to go to new places and to see new and interesting things and eat new and interesting foods. Alas, Little Andrew lacked the requisite funds to travel to more....developed locales.

And so it came to pass that Little Andrew found himself travelling in Central America. In Panama, he discovered seco and patacones. In Costa Rica he discovered jerked fish and casados. And then Little Andrew found himself in Nicaragua. Now, Nicaragua is both a poorer and larger place than either Panama or Costa Rica. But it was here that Little Andrew discovered a plethora of new and interesting foods. Oh! the fried cheese! Ah! the mangos dropping from trees like manna from heaven!

And then it came to pass that Little Andrew found himself in the town of Leon. For such a curious small boy, Leon was a wonderful place indeed. The mercado was filled to the brim with new foods. Everywhere Little Andrew went, he asked "What do you call that?" and "How do you eat that?" It was in Leon that Andrew discovered that jicaro is the tree with the strange round gourds hanging from it. The gourds were sold as carved cups, and the jicaro seeds were used to make a bubble-gum flavored drink! He also ate many new foods with strange and interesting names--chancho con yuca, quesillas, and more!

In the hotel where Little Andrew laid his head at night was a strange and interesting tree. From that tree hung smooth, orange colored, pear-shaped fruits, and from those fruits dangled green pods.

"What could it be?" wondered Little Andrew, and he asked person after person until he found the answer--it was a cashew tree! Armed with this new, exciting knowledge, Little Andrew went about dissecting the fruit and the pod. The fruit was quite alkaline, but edible he was assured. It made his mouth feel full of cotton balls. The pod revealed a perfect cashew nut, and Little Andrew realized why cashews were so expensive in the supermarkets at home--each fruit held only one nut!

Leon was such a good place to be that Little Andrew decided to take Spanish classes there and have more time in the city. His classes were good, and his teacher told him of even more new and interesting foods. For Little Andrew, Leon was indeed a very fun.

And then one day, Little Andrew began to scratch his arms. He looked down, and to his surprise, both of his inner elbows sported an angry red rash. Soon, the rash spread to his wrists, his neck, and his left eye became swollen.

"AAAAIIII" said Little Andrew, "what is wrong with me?"

A fellow traveller said "scabies?"

Little Andrew´s girlfriend said "heat rash?"

Little Andrew worried and fretted and gnashed his teeth. Finally, he decided to go see the doctor, who spoke no English, and Little Andrew no Spanish.

"Have you eaten eggs?" asked the doctor.

"Yes!" said Little Andrew

"Have you eaten cream or milk?"


"Have you eaten pork?" asked the doctor, the most ominous question of all.

"Yes" said Little Andrew dejectedly, thinking Trichinosis! Hoof and Mouth! Anthrax! What could be wrong?

"You have an allergy" said the doctor, "to........something."

Little Andrew scratched himself vigorously. "To what?" he asked.

"No se" replied the doctor.

The doctor gave Little Andrew a fatty injection of hydrocortisone, and sent him on his way, after a fee of $6 for the doctor and $6.25 for the injection. The price gave Little Andrew much-needed happiness.

Little Andrew returned to the hostel with some relief, but still scratching scratching scratching. He was still quite worried, and not totally convinced that it wasn´t scabies.

Little Andrew´s girlfriend, a more sensible sort of person, decided to email Andrew´s mother, the wise R.N. She asked for advice from afar...Little Andrew is sick with a rash and a swollen eye. Can you help?

Little Andrew´s mother thought long and hard. She didn´t think that the rash was from the heat because of Little Andrew´s swollen eye. So she logged on to the internet. She searched high and low, she searched far and wide. Finally, she found a website on poisonous tropical plants. THERE! The first plant on the list--Little Andrew´s beloved cashew tree.

Little Andrew called his mother the very next morning, and she explained her suspicions to him. According to the website, the beloved cashew tree was a relative of poison ivy, poison oak, and poison sumac! Now, Little Andrew was a sturdy sort of fellow, but it just happened that poison ivy was his Achille´s heel. Little Andrew was VERY allergic to poison ivy!

Aaaaah, the mystery of the rash was solved (but not yet cured)!

And of course, the moral of the story--Call your mother first!
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andrewandjacque on

Re: Re: more bad things
Jacque already wrote you, but I thought I would give you a little more info. Your daughter needs to go to a doc and explain what the problem is. The active irritating compound is urushiol oil. I was treated with a five day course of prednisone commonly called a 'prednisone pack'. I (eleven years ago) took prednisone for 9 months in a relatively high dose for an unrelated problem, so the side effects were negligible for me, but include insomnia, the shakes, and a ravenous appetite. I would also get a shot of cortisone ad a topical prescription-strength hydrocortisone creme to help with the immediate symptoms. My rash was completely gone a few days after finishing the prednisone pack.

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