When Nature Calls

Captain came running into the room and hopped into bed.  “Warm me up!” His teeth were chattering.  Typically I am the cold body but I was actually hot this evening.  I tucked Captain in and wrapped my body around his.  His forehead was burning up and beads of sweat were forming on his brow.  As Captain’s chills continued, it was difficult to convince my patient to not pile himself with blankets.

Moments later, he states, “I am going to get sick.”    I hopped up, ran for the kitchen, doubled bagged a grocery sack and returned to Captain at lightning speed. Rarely will you see a nurse move faster than when she is told someone is about to get sick!  Later he confessed how relieved he was when I did not grab the trash can from the bathroom where we dispose of our toilet tissue.  Touching that thing would make me puke!  The nausea continued for about an hour and then with only a second’s notice, the vomiting began.  To Captain’s relief, it happened only once.  If only this had been the worst of it…

In researching Montezuma’s Revenge, we learned (from Wikipedia J) the incubation period for this bacteria is reportedly 7-14 days.  Two weeks! Who knows where he could have acquired this bug? I just hoped I hadn’t eaten the same thing!!!  The next days were spent at home as Captain was frequenting the bathroom at least every hour.

The carefree nurse that I am, I just told my patient to ‘drink plenty of water and it will surely go away’.  By day 4, it clearly wasn’t going away. Our day pack was stocked with an emergency stash of TP, Captain made one last pit stop and we caught a ride to Tonchigue.  We opted out of the mile plus walk to the village for obvious reasons. The journey would consist of a quick trip to the “farmacia” and the local “medica” if necessary.

Captain had his Spanish dialog prepared. “Banos. Banos. Banos. No bueno.” The lady behind the counter held her tummy, made a face of discomfort and Captain acknowledged. She pulled off 2 different boxes of medications. She gave Captain 4 pills, 2 for the first day, the other two for the second.  Describing symptoms to a person who doesn’t understand and taking medications when the prescriber doesn’t know the extent of the issues? This sounds like Western medicine! Captain was desperate and at this point would take anything given to him!

After examining the pill boxes briefly, I was convinced the pharmacist understand Captain’s situation. One pill was named “Dairen” and the other had the sound of an antibiotic. Captain pulled out $20 expecting to pay a large medical bill. Total price for consultation and medication: one dollar.  Of course, everything is a dollar in Ecuador.

Understandably, Captain had been lacking an appetite for days. While getting his medicine in Tonchique, we happened past a woman selling soup.  Nothing could soothe Captain’s tummy like some fresh chicken soup.  So I got him a bowl, to go, of course…there was time to fart around!   An urgent trip to the pot could occur at any given moment and in Ecuador, restroom is a loose term!

Captain didn’t feel much like eating when we got home but he grabbed a spoon to try the soup while it was still warm.   He took the first bite and shrugged his shoulders-he wasn’t impressed.  Feeling obligated to try everything I dipped the spoon in and up floated something I couldn’t quite identify.  I quickly passed on the taste test.  Captain grabbed the spoon and dipped deeper into the bowl to get a closer look.  It was a chicken’s foot!  Who knows where that foot had been?! With a hopeless look on Captain’s face, he made his way to the bathroom-probably to vomit!

Much to Captain’s relief after 4 days spent in the bathroom with diarrhea, the 4 pills did the trick.  I was relieved we didn’t have to make a trip to the hospital for dehydration.  It is not a third world experience if someone doesn’t get the shits…

As Captain’s trips to the bathroom became less frequent and he began feeling better, our search for our dream property along the coast continued.

We found ourselves sitting on the corner, yet again waiting for a ride down the peninsula.  A man in a van stopped to offer us a ride.  His response to our destination was lacking but he just kept repeating the name of the one tourist destination along the peninsula.  Many of the drivers think this is where we’re going whenever we hitch a ride- this is probably the only place all the other gringos visit here in the boondocks.  Like usual, we attempted to explain that we were going further down the way but he didn’t seem to understand.

Captain and I are speaking much more Spanish with the locals and feeling more confident and comfortable in conversation.  None the less, miscommunications occur naturally.  Once we reached the ‘tourist destination’ he hopped out of the van and opened the door.  We explained again that we were going further.  Our misunderstanding then became clear.  The tourist hot spot was his final destination!

Again, we were waiting for a ride having got only halfway to our destination.  An hour must have passed, as we sat waiting for someone to come along. This wait was much more tranquil than the normal wait at the corner ‘truck stop’.   Not a minute passed that a butterfly didn’t flutter by.  There were butterflies of all varieties: small and yellow with soft tipped wings, white ones of all sizes, big and little monarchs, and, my favorite, a bright blue and black butterfly the size of my hand.

The butterflies held my attention as we hopped in the back of a pickup truck.  Hundreds of butterflies, black with neon markings, filled the sky as we made our way to our destination.  Hours later when we boarded a ranchero home, the blanket of butterflies was still draped over the blue sky.

As far back as I can remember I have been a lover of nature.  My parents allowed us kids to have many childhood pets.  The family always had a dog, usually a cat or two and occasionally pets like iguanas, parakeets, guinea pigs and hermit crabs.  It’s interesting to be on the other side of the equator and seeing these ‘exotic’ animals in their natural habitat.  With a different perspective these days, I am saddened to think of these creatures torn from their true home and domesticated into mine.

Every morning we are woken up by the neighbor-lady’s parrot.  Captain thought he wanted a parrot until he realized how loud one can be!  If the parrot or the rooster doesn’t wake us, her barking dog surely will.

Captain calls the dog Barky but when I first met her, I named her Sandy.  I was meditating peacefully on the beach watching the sun set. When I came to, she startled me as she had been sitting so quietly next to me.  We have been best friends since. When Captain and I leave for walks down the beach, we hear Sandy as she cries to her elderly owner who is rarely seen outside her gated property.  It is only a matter of minutes before Sandy is sprinting for us down the beach.

Dogs are everywhere here; trotting along the road with an agenda, taking a poo along the beach, intimidating one another in the streets or scavenging for leftovers. I have come to know the local dogs; this one is well-behaved, that one belongs to them, he is horny, she is nursing and who is surely is a stray.  Even the dogs that belong to people are mangy like the strays. I notice the local kids are entertained by spooking dogs.

For some time, I thought Sandy walked with us because she is a loyal friend and adores us.  But I have seen her hitching rides with others passing by.  She isn’t the only dog that does this either.  It seems as though if a human isn’t going to tease, trick or kick him, the dog will join the pack to keep from being tormented.

Compared to the number of free running dogs, seeing a cat is less frequent.  But of course, I stumbled onto a new litter of these.  The moment I saw the kittens, Captain looked at me and said “No!”  Obviously I knew we couldn’t take them home but the thought did cross my mind.  Captain reminded me, we will not be bringing all the strays back to our future home.  My reply was, “not ALL of the strays…”

Captain and I are both outdoor lovers.  As our journey deepens, we know nature is going to be a necessary element in our future together. Our draw to Ecuador is the beautiful landscape and the diverse animal kingdom.  Affordable property was a big plus too! I see a life immersed in Earth’s natural environment and know this is necessary for the health and wellbeing of my future family. Nature is calling and I am ready to find a home…

The end of June marks the beginning of whale watching along the Ecuadorian coast.  Humpback whales make their way from Antarctica to the warm waters of Ecuador to mate.  They are huge creatures and very playful during mating season; watching them out at sea is magnificent.  Many mornings we spent watching for the whales with our binoculars but had no luck from afar.  So we took a short boat ride and had the opportunity to see a few of these gentle and graceful creatures.

We also had our first encounter with a blue footed boobie.  Captain was not impressed with the cleanliness of their living space. But I reminded him, as if he quickly had forgotten, everybody poops!!!

Ecuador is a bird watchers paradise and is known for its variety of hummingbirds, which are my favorite. I was sad to have only seen a few zipping around during all our days along the coast.  Captain concluded we must be further inland to see the small birds.  The other day, we happened past a tree that produces long red tropical flowers and it was buzzing with hummingbirds.  I counted at least 14 in this single tree!  I surely will be planting these trees all over our land!!!

The amphibian life is flourishing in Ecuador also; toads, snakes and lizards, oh my!  While walking near tall grass, iguanas can be spotted as they rush for cover in the brush.  Our apartment is shared with several geckos.  They spend the evenings scurrying between the walls and windows, targeting the insects that frequent our lights and munching on unsuspecting moths.

Hermit crabs were one of my favorite childhood ‘pets’.  While manifesting my dream home, I visualized hermit crabs. I wondered how I would have hermit crabs but not keep them caged.  Yes.  This has been a concern on my anxious mind… On the small stretch of beach in front of a prospective property, I encountered a hundred hermit crabs hanging out the beach.  This magical moment was a reminder from nature that everything is as it should be…and that I could quick worrying about caging my ‘pet’ hermits.  I know where they live.

My attention was grabbed by a social interaction between three crabs.  There were three shells and three crabs but the last was not wearing the third shell. I was captivated with the nature of the hermit. The first crab was helping the second move out of his current home by holding the second crab’s shell with his claws. Does it always take the help of a second crab for the first to change homes?  Are crabs social creatures or do they open up to others only when necessary for property gains?

The last crab was waiting so patiently that I hadn’t realized there was a conflict; this guy was not part of the house-warming party.  He was without a shell and moving in.  And, as the other two were fussing about, this is precisely what he did.

I feel like the last crab waiting patiently to move into my own shell.  Nature is calling and I just want to find a place to call home…

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