On being sick in Chile. And I hope you never are.
I have spent the last two days in stop-animation. Move, freeze in position (bundled to the teeth and under all the blankets) for an hour or three, then move again, occasionally shuffling to the kitchen to make some juice (good thing I bought all that juiceable produce on Sunday, did I know this was going to happen?), freeze in position again. In between I have been sweating to beat the band, freezing, listening to a low crackle in my breathing and wondering if this means I should go to the doctor (it’s gone now, so I think the answer is no).
This all started with the visit to see a friend, her child and the child’s grandmother, all of whom I like very much. However, two of the three people I went to visit were suffering from some kind of ick, and if I learn one thing from this experience, may it be the following: When I am told “we’re not going out today because the tiny adorable toddler is feeling a little off, but you can come here,” I must run screaming, and not get on the metro to go visit them, little tow-headed toddler with adorable expressions such as “boca ow” (my mouth hurts) notwithstanding.
I’ve had a lot of time to think, and in between kitchen shuffling (yesterday I was able to eat rice, rice I tell you!), I’ve had a lot of time to think about what I had/have. In the US, I’d say I was “sick.” What do you have, friends would ask, and I’d say, I don’t know, something with fever. And we would all go on our merry way, and they would alcohol gel their hands on their way out of the house. (And I am not making fun of you at all Nathan, though I still have to look of those pictures of you in the giant hamster ball, and then I might, a little)
Anyway, back to the descriptions of sick. Not so in Chile. People want to know if I have “gripe” or “influenza.” First of all, gripe looks like the word grippe, which reminds me of frappé, but less frothy (oh, but I could have a frosty decaf coffee drink, doesn’t that sound amazing). It also reminds me of the word catarrh, which is to say, these are French words you see written down, but you never really say (if you were born after about 1950. Influenza seems like a specific virus, not just what you should call a serious cold.
Anyway, words. Love them.
So I thought I’d put together some vocab on how to explain your illness if you’re wandering through Latin America and you find yourself suddenly seized with the desire for lots of horizontal, a whole bunch of water, and maybe just a touch of your momma to come and take care of you (but not bring you green jello, because eew, that was just not right).
resfrío- a cold
resfriado- adj, cold (estoy resfriado/a=I have a cold)
influenza- technically a specific virus, used in Chile sometimes for generalized sickness)
romadizo- nasal congestion
And now I leave you to your regularly-scheduled hopefully cold-free day. I have to do the laundry of doom and take a long-awaited shower and make more juice. I’m on the upswing but gripe or influenza, this thing just isn’t quite over yet. Qué lata! (what a bummer)