in the mind of a disordered eater with body dysmorphia, dysentery seems like a small price to pay for an express diet abroad. it would be totally worth it, i used to think (and probably still do). a few days of diarrhea for rapid weight loss and a smaller stomache. i’ll take it! i don’t have dysentery, but i’ve had some weird stomache issue for about two weeks. i blame the cookies n’ cream milkshake at the mall, but it might have been the bite of chicken i had later on that day. anything i eat is followed by belly discomfort, bloating, and immediate evacuation. i’ve had a few days of relief, but really it’s been continuous. i miss food so bad. the joy of anticipating my next meal, savoring it, and masticating without fear seem like privileges of a past life. and much like in my past life, as soon as i express bodily trouble everybody has a diagnosis and a remedy; it’s never the remedy i want, either, that of sympathy and support. folks are always trying to asses and solve your life. so i get, “that sounds like…” a parasite, bacteria, a virus, food poisoning, dysentery, or dengue; “you should get some…” electrolytes, more water, agua panela, maalox, sancocho, arroz con pollo, this antibiotic, that antibiotic, or suero en polvo. no joda. i always resist advice. i just want my body to heal itself and people to comfort me from a healthy, emotional distance. i hate being sick anywhere, but i hate having a gringo illness even more.
as much as i own my gringoness and am happy to proclaim it when the inevitable question of “where are you from?” arises, there are some extranjero stereotypes i avoid participating in and succumbing to. por ejemplo, walking around with a pack of shirtless white boys in flip flops, speaking english really loud on a bus, photographing stuff, or taking a towel to the beach. there is one that i am deeply immersed in, though, and i didn’t realize what i caught until it was too late. i am now 3 weeks into a monogamous relationship with a 21 year old samario, or santa martan. i know, right? it makes me almost as nauseated as a cookies n’ cream and poo water milkshake.
i have learned there is an epidemic of older gringo ladies (gringo meaning anyone foreign and white) coming to santa marta and taking on a local boy for companionship and sex. just like in the movies! they whisk them away on trips or cruises, take them out to eat, fill them up with all the cocaine and vagina they want, and then go home. when i walk around with my boy, this is what i imagine everyone is thinking when i get eyeballs and whispers. “she’s got gringo fever,” they say. i understand these looks, i give them to myself and would likely give them to others, but i know the sincerity and honesty in my relationship so i try to ignore their prognosis. i’m not the only one who got the bug, either. colombian girls break into sweats over gringo boys (my previous definition of gringo applies). these are average joe gringo boys paired up with obnoxiously fine ass women. this shit’s airborne, i swear.
as much as i know (hope) my lovely caribbean fling is a passing fervor, it is the most committed, fun, and easy relationship i’ve had in the last 5 years. thus far it has been completely drama free, extremely sweet, and full of good sex and outdoor adventures. riding motorcycles, smooching under waterfalls, and hand feeding each other on the beach. it’s a little nauseous. issues of class, culture, and age do inevitably seep in, and i have to take my temperature and a deep breath, but i’m still not looking for an analysis or a cure. i’m just letting it run its course.