Never in a million years did I think I would spend my first night in Ecuador wrapped in a homemade diaper skirt crafted from a bath towel.
Let’s start from the beginning, shall we?
Ciprofloxacin was one of the medications I was prescribed. It’s used to treat traveler’s diarrhea, and is capable of knocking pretty much any bug out of your system almost instantaneously. I anticipated I would probably need to use the Cipro at some point during the trip…but I most certainly didn’t expect I would need to pop one of the pills within ninety minutes of landing in Quito.
After an entire day of traveling, my roommate and I were exhausted by the time we finally set foot in our hotel room. Our trip coordinator had provided each of us with a few bottles of purified water for drinking and brushing our teeth. The water in Ecuador doesn’t agree with sensitive American tummies, and we were advised not to ingest any of it unless a date with the toilet was our idea of a good time.
Come to think of it, I don’t think that’s anyone’s idea of a good time. And if it is? Well…you should probably never admit to that.
Anyway, by the time we had set down our luggage, I was ready for bed. I literally don’t think I’ve ever been so tired as I was that night…partly because I had spent the prior evening with friends in Minneapolis and was out until three in the morning. I groggily dragged myself into the bathroom to wash my face and brush my teeth before passing out for the next six hours.
Thirty seconds later, I realized I had made a terrible mistake.
Roomie: Whoa! What’s wrong?
Me: You’re not gonna believe this. I just brushed me teeth with the tap water! I don’t know what I was thinking!
Roomie: Oooh….yeah…that’s definitely not good.
Me: I know! I can’t believe I just did that! So…what do I do now?
Roomie: Umm…rinse your mouth out with the bottled water, I think?
Me: Yes. Good call. Lots of rinsing.
Insert me rinsing mouth and then proceeding to brush teeth a second time with tap water. I was really exhausted and out of it at this point.
Roomie: You okay?
Me: No! I did it again!!
Roomie: Wow. You’re really bad at this game.
Me: I know! I must be really tired. Do you think I’m totally going to get sick now?
Roomie: Probably. One of my friends came down here and she said she had to shower with her back facing the shower head. Apparently even one drop of the water on your lips can be enough to do you in.
Me: Seriously? One drop of water?!? I’m doomed!!!
Roomie: Relax. Do you have any Cipro?
Roomie: I’d take one of those…like right now. Then you should be fine.
Me: Okay…good idea. Hey–you don’t think I could get a parasite from this, do you?
She chose not to dignify that last question with a response. I can’t say that I blame her.
I immediately downed the Cipro. Roomie and I said our goodnights and I crawled into bed. But despite being completely wiped out and beyond sleep-deprived, I was unable to drift off into peaceful slumber. You see, my mind kept wondering how much it would cost to replace the mattress I was sleeping on.
I know, gross. But I was tired. Like, really tired. I figured this meant there was a pretty significant chance of me sleeping so deeply, I might just get sick in the middle of the night without even waking up.
And you know what’s not sexy? A do-it-yourself Jackson Pollock mattress.
Apologies for the visual. I just couldn’t pass up a chance to flex my art history muscles. Also? I think that analogy really demonstrates just how unsexy this entire thing would be, if it actually occurred.
Unfortunately, dropping a few hundred bucks on a new bed was the least of my worries. Subjecting my roommate (who I had known for all of five hours) to the wrath of my digestive system seemed like something that would permanently scar the both of us. I mean…I’m not an expert or anything, but I’m pretty sure soiling your bed in a foreign hotel room at two in the morning is not a good way to make friends.
I am almost positive it’s an excellent way to end up in therapy, though. Although…do they even have therapy for stuff like this?
I decided not to find out. After five minutes of visualizing the worst-case scenario in the dark, I slowly crept to the bathroom to grab a bath towel.
Roomie: Are you okay?
Me: Oh…me? Uh…yeah! Totally fine.
Roomie: You sure?
Me: Yup! No problems here.
Roomie: Katrina — are you feeling sick at all?
Me: No…not yet. I just wanted to grab a towel. Just to be safe.
Roomie: A towel??
I then went into an explanation of my reasoning for the towel, which may or may not have been way too detailed to share with someone I had just met that day. The fact that all of this was going down in the pitch black dark while we were lying in bed just a few feet away from each other only added to the awkwardness.
But it was worth it. With the plush towel triple wrapped around my lower half in a homemade diaper that slightly resembled a pencil skirt made out of mummification cloths, I was finally able to fall asleep.
I awoke six hours later, still tightly wrapped in my clean, white diaper dress. Talk about being worried for nothing.
Later at breakfast, I learned that brushing your teeth with the tap water isn’t that big of a deal– I probably didn’t even need to take any of the medication. I had really been worried for nothing.
I think we can all learn one thing from this horrible, horrible overreaction.
My digestive issues don’t even hold a candle to my mental issues. And you know what? I’m kind of okay with that.
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