Last trip to South America, I was nearly constantly beset with intestinal problems due to the influx of bacteria from the food and water. This time around, I’m comin’ prepared. I’ll be taking along some Culturelle, which contains the clinically researched bacterium Lactobacillus GG, a probiotic which has been proven to make its way intact through stomach bile and colonize the intestinal tract with “good” bacteria (as opposed to the bad bacteria which tend to gain the upper hand whilst traveling). Also, the malaria prophylaxis which I will be taking, Doxycycline, will of course be killing all the bacteria in my stomach indiscriminately like a pesticide kills all insects, both good and bad, so the Culturelle will doubly serve to re-populate the bacteria down there to keep everything functioning as it should.
I also have discovered another product called Florastor, which is a type of probiotic made from a strain of yeast, which will serve pretty much the same function as Culturelle, although it is also more specifically oriented towards battling the sorts of yeast problems which can afflict women when taking antibiotics. But I figure I’ll take it too, because it will also help battle the introduced bacteria from water and food. It certainly can’t hurt having an influx of the good bugs in there since there’s about to be a daily influx of the bad ones.
Furthermore, I also found some info on berberine, such as Oregon Grape, barberry, or tree tumeric, which can also serve as herbal antibiotic assaults on all that diarrhea inducing bacteria. So I might pick up a bottle of one of them as well, in the case of any cataclysmic outbreaks of vomit/diarrhea such as occurred on my birthday the last time I was in South America. So I’m being proactive this time around. As much as I enjoy losing all of my excess fat within a few days, I would really rather not spend my time engaged in a cyclical traversing back and forth to the john all day long.
Other items I’ve obtained for este viaje:
1) A new, phatty Jansport daypack with 10 million different compartments, as well as a reinforced laptop carrying pouch so that its function will switch right back into an urban laptop transporter once I’ve returned from the trip. I also found this particular bag for 1/2 off, somehow. I asked one of the REI workers to make sure I was seeing it right. Once confirmed, I hung onto this find with both hands through the check-out line. Thanks for the gift certificate to REI, camp!
2) A new pair of lightweight travel pants with a sweet little zippered pouch at the bottom of the leg. I wanted a pair of pants that would be easy to care for and able to breathe well for the tropical weather and even be used for possible trekking adventures, but also look good enough to ostensibly serve as going-out pants. These are pretty much what I was looking for, other than for the weird little plastic snap buttons for rolling them up. Which I guess will be fine for the Caribbean coast beach strolling, in any case.
3) A new Moleskine notebook for recording thoughts and observations, as well as for jotting down new words and placenames. A friend of mine (thanks Vince!) had generously gifted me one of these for my Peru trip, and it had been just exactly the right size for capturing the journey, sliding neatly into my pocket and easily accessible for quick reference when I was trying to remember that one word I had just learned the other day, or for love poems in Spanish from pretty local girls, or for inscribing complex addresses of recommended discoteques. So I had to get me another one for Colombia (along with an extra fine point pen, because I can only write neatly when I have a finepoint pen, for some reason).
4) A new pair of earbuds for my Creative Zen Touch mp3 player (I highly recommend this mp3 player, by the way; I’ve had it for over 3 years now with nary a problem). The ones that came with it hurt my ears so much as to nearly be unusable, and so I decided that it was high time I got something that wouldn’t feel like a continuous raping of my ear canals. I found this pair at Brookstone, and I’m pleasantly surprised. The sound quality is much better than the ones I used to use, and they fit very comfortably on top of my ears without inducing any discomfort. Perfect for long bus rides.
Other than that, it’s just listening to my Spanish CDs and trying to read my grammar book. So far, the Spanish studying hasn’t been going too well. I’m being lazy. In any case, though, I’ll be speaking it one way or another once I get there.