The floors creak quite loudly in the apartment where I’m staying here in Mexico City. When someone passes by my door at night, sometimes the creaking wakes me up out of a sound sleep.
Around midnight last night, I woke up to the sound of creaking floors, but this time the footsteps stopped at my door. Then I heard a knock. Still in a daze, I thought for a split second it might be the security guard. Then I heard my name, and I recognized the voice of one of my housemates.
When I acknowledged, I heard, “I’m really sick. I can’t stop using the toilet. Can you give me medicine?”
Several days earlier, this housemate and I had had a conversation about our various classmates getting sick in Mexico. I’d mentioned that I brought some medicine with me just in case, but also that I felt lucky that I hadn’t needed it yet.
It took me a few moments to make myself presentable. When I opened the door, I saw a 90-pound Chinese woman curled up on the floor, nearly in a fetal position. She looked like she was hurting pretty bad.
I took pity on her and gave her one of my pills for traveler’s diarrhea. Then I wrote down the name of the medicine and the dosage so that she could take it to a pharmacy in the morning. Most of the pharmacies here in Mexico have an adjacent clinic for diagnosing common issues, sparing one a separate trip to a physician.
I warned her she had to drink plenty of water and had to get more medicine first thing in the morning, even if she felt better. If she doesn’t kill all the parasites, they’ll just come back. The prescription I had was to take a dose twice a day for a week.
This schoolmate is a regular traveler to Mexico and Colombia where she does business in exports from China. She’d never gotten sick before and apparently let her guard down. She mentioned having eaten some fresh fruit yesterday, something I avoid like the plague here in Mexico, even though all those fruit cocktails sold by street vendors look so appealing.
I’ve been relatively careful about what I eat here in Mexico City, but I realize I’m now one of only a few people in my school who hasn’t gotten sick at some point during their stay. The knock on the door in the middle of the night was a reminder to maintain my vigilance. My diet here would probably give a nutritionist nightmares, but so far it’s kept me in class.