Now, finally, to answer the question that I know has been in the back of all of your minds this whole time: my stomach has been just dandy all throughout the trip thus far. I’ve had some spots of unsettledness here and there, but otherwise have been just great. Whether this is due simply to the anti-biotics or whether the probiotic pills are really making the difference is a question that is best left up to scientific research. The first week that I was here, my stomach did make some interesting noises and burble about quite a bit, but nothing came of it. Also, I haven’t been eating anything too sketchy, except for that street vendor-concocted shrimp cocktail last night on the beach, which was delicious and which I highly recommend trying if you are ever in Santa Marta. This old dude plopped down his bags, pulled out a plastic cup, filled it partway with camarones, then some onion salsa type thing, then squirts of mayonese and ketchup, a couple squeezes of fresh lime, and mixed it all up and handed it to me with a spoon, crackers, and a napkin. It was a great sunset watching snack, that’s for damn sure. I’ve also been rinsing my mouth with the tap water after brushing my teeth since I’ve got here as well, and that hasn’t been a problema.
In other news, I fucked up my beloved pair of travel pants (see link above) when I placed a pen in my pocket and it leaked out, forming two large, undying black spots right on the outside of the pocket area. I’m heart-broken, and have been trying to cope by drinking lots of tintos and jugos naturales.
As for Santa Marta, it’s fucking hot. The sun in mid-day heat is no joke. You have to dodge it from shadow to shadow in the city streets like a civilian from snipers. About the best thing that can be said about it is that your clothes dry extremely fast after washing them in the sink.
As for insect bites, the first day here my ankle swelled up so much that you couldn’t even see the bone. What’s especially perturbing about the whole thing is that these mosquitoes, or whatever it is that are biting, are completely invisible and soundless. You don’t hear or see anything. Suddenly you are just aware of this palpatating itch coming from your ankle, or elbow, or neck, and you’ve got to exercise Zen-like restraint to prevent yourself from scratching at it. Although I suppose in the long run it’s actually a good thing that you don’t have to be further tormented by listening to the little buggers buzzing at you all day long.
However, I seem to have found a repellent that works! No, it was not the all-natural Burt’s Bees which I had expressly brought along for that very purpose. And no, you sceptical nay-sayers, it is not simply that all-natural things do not work. My girlfriend has been applying her supposedly effective DEET based formula and still getting bit up the ying-yang as well. What I observed is that I was not getting bit on the areas of my body to which I had been applying my suncreen. So I’ve been slathering it all over my ankles and hands and arms and neck as well, and it seems to be doing the trick. What is this wonder repellent? Why, it is my all-natural Badger 30 SPF sunscreen! This stuff is not your everyday kind of sunscreen: when you first apply it, it makes you look like a ghost due to the whiteness of it. You’ve got to really work it into your skin, massage it in, and then it disapparates into your pores and does it’s duty quite efficiently, as well as moisturizing and making your skin smell herbal-y. I think the repellent qualities may be due to all the essential oils in it, blocking the pores or something, who knows. But it works! ¡Sweet!