La Gripe and La Costa: The Struggle

Trip Start Jun 16, 2009
Trip End Jul 27, 2009

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Where I stayed
Pastor and Wife“s Lodging

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Monday, July 6, 2009

La Gripe means "flu" and La Costa means “the Coast.” I don't think “flu” and “Coast” make a good pair, but sometimes bad pairs happen.

It starts off with a tickle in the throat, and an occasional dry cough; it progresses onto a violent cough (as if something is buried deep in your lungs, and your body is trying to get rid of it), a series of strong fevers, chills, a headache, and congestion. This is the virus that accompanied us on our trip. Me, ¾ of the kids, and other staff members were affected by this virus.

Our vacation did not begin as smoothly as we may have liked; apart from the flu, the second van arrived 3 ½ hours late, so we used that time to nurse the kids back to health, if possible. Two cooks, 3 staff members, 6 sick children, and I were left behind; the previous van left with the majority of the staff members and children. We ate broccoli soup and added popcorn to the soup.

Finally, the other bus arrived and we took off in the early afternoon. Space was a luxury. Along the way, we listened to an orchestra of a baby crying non-stop, a child vomiting in the back seat, and salsa music blaring in the front. Cristofer, the sickest of the kids, sat on my lap, whose fever added to my already rising fever. Uncomfortable would be an understatement.

We arrived late at night. A staff member told me, “You are in charge of one child…Edison, because he is like three children.” I fully agreed with her statement. After feeding the kids seafood soup (which they were not too fond of I realized) and fried fish (on the Coast, it’s all about the oil), Edison and Jonathan decided to try to eat my sweater, which I was not too happy about.

We arrived around 10 pm at a site owned by a pastor and his wife. The lodging was very simple: cement floors, bunk beds, and sparsely running, cold water. The kids, however, were not that simple. Just imagine approximately 30 children running around the site, all dirty, all sick, and all wild!

I woke up the next morning, barely able to maintain my balance. The social worker told me that I should go to the doctor with the kids who are sick also. I was somewhat hesitant about going to the doctor, especially since I am in a foreign country, but I was desperate. When we arrived, I heard medical staff talking amongst themselves, “All of these kids came from Quito-sick; this is the biggest one (referring to me).” Even in my stupor, I laughed. They ended up giving me a white pill, which apparently was magic because I slowly felt better. Later on, I looked on the back of the package: acetometaphine. Just the common Tylenol.

It was hard to get better on this trip due to the high level of activity involved. I did not get to enjoy the beach the first day, but was able to join the children on the second and third days of the beach. We built castles, looked for snails and shells, and some of the kids even found starfish and sand dollars! Perhaps this was not the ideal vacation, but despite all of the coughing and fever, and tiredness, I was able to witness the happiness on the kids“ faces as they indulged in the sand and white foamy water.

I realized that they appreciated being there. To be honest, I was thinking negatively throughout this trip, including about how bad I felt physically and emotionally. At times, I caught myself thinking, ahh, too many kids who deliberately choose not to listen to me, who eat my clothes, and kept turning the lights on and off when I tried to sleep…I felt spoiled, selfish, and was sorry for myself. I obviously have to take care of myself in order to care for the kids, but I also have to have an attitude check. This trip to the coast was definitely not about me; this trip was about them. And it still is about them.
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