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Published: November 26th 2008
My first meal after being sick for twenty hours.
The animal in my belly bit, tearing into my soft skin. The pain smiled at me, blood dripping from black teeth. I moaned, whispering words in tight gasps, twisting my legs beneath me to release the pain. The bathroom floor floor was wet from the shower and soaked through the blanket I had pulled from my bed upstairs. The door was locked, the light reflecting off the white tiles. Shivering in pain and cold I continued to thrash and moan, rising only to empty the little that was left in my stomach.
My head rolled from side to side, cheeks pressing into the soft fleece of my jacket I was using as a pillow. To my right was my plastic water bottle, the lable peeled away long ago by bored hands. I drank a sip, waiting for my stomache to reject it once again.
By four I was still shivering, waking to pain and cold. I thought I heard birds outside the window. I was in one of the two shared bathrooms in a hostel of at least nine rooms with two people per room. In the morning poeple would stumble, toothbrush and towel in hand, to the bathroom
Pirate night at Oliver´s Travels.
to prepare for the day. I pulled my crumpled body, tightened with pain, into a standing position. Gathering my wet blanket in my arms I climbed the stairs back up to my room. Rosalinde woke as I fell into bed, moaning in pain. She rubbed my arm and talked to me, before returning to her bed. Warmed by dry sheets, I slept.
In the morning Rosalinde left to explore the streets of La Paz. I slept, waking often, until she returned at two. As soon as I opened my eyes I realized the pain was gone. Whatever creature that had taken residence inside was destroyed, its bones cleaned and burned as white as the inside of my stomache.
That afternoon and evening I ate cabbage leaves stuffed with rice and lamb, papaya fruit shake, and a bowl of museli with yogurt and bananas.
Never again would I eat unwashed tomatoes from a market, no matter how innocent the faces that look at me through skin wrinkled and dark like the potatoes they sell.
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