I got sick this weekend, all weekend. It wasn’t a predictable and manageable travelers’ sickness, because that wouldn’t have phased me. Instead, I got the flu or something similar, with a bad fever, chills, cough, aches, delirious dreams and the like. The cure has been a shot, an hour of nebulizer, antibiotics and an inhaler. Anyway, cultural differences are fun, so this is why it sucked to be sick inColombia.

1. My host mother, and every Colombian I came in contact with, is convinced that “agua de panela” with lemon is a cure-all. Agua de panela is a hot drink made of sugar cane liquid. It’s sugar water, and it’s gross, and it is not a miracle substance. I managed to drink one serving, but I ditched #2 out the window when Edith left the room.

2. Ina lot of Spanish-speaking countries, they use the word “gripe” or “gripa” for the flu, and for a common cold. My co-workers knew I was coughing a lot on Friday, and I said I had gripa, meaning a cold. When I came back to school on Tuesday after staying home for a day, I tried to put serious emphasis on my symptoms but a lot of them were still like, oh yea, I have gripa too. No. I didn’t have that gripa! I did not go to the hospital and stay home from school because of a common cold. It was the flu, damn it! The other gripa!

3. I had to wait almost two hours after getting treated just to pay my bill at the hospital. Then about 5 different people explained to me that my health insurance doesn’t work there, and I explained to them that I know, and it works on reimbursement. Then I had to go back to the hospital a day later, because they don’t do itemized bills on the weekends. When I went back, they gave me my bill and about 25 cents worth of change from the payment the day before.

4. This was my designated planning weekend – I was so ready to get at least two weeks of lesson plans done, but all I could do was sleep and watch Drug Wars on National Geographic. I know, right? I came to Colombiato live those drug wars, not watch them dubbed in Spanish. I’m so lame.