Postcards from Ecotopia

old new lefty

old new lefty
alienation, discontent
September 16
Making trouble whenever possible
virgin novelist, middle school teacher for the morally handicapped, government bureaucrat, most famous unknown photographer in LA, PhD dropout, coat hanger sorter, presidential campaign worker, sewer worker, and retired guy -- but not in that order.


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MARCH 26, 2012 8:44AM

The Case of the Deadly Frijoles

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My wifey owes me TWO FREE PASSES!  Not one, but two.  I had already made arrangements with Steve for my next great Mexican adventure (profusely illustrated!), but wifey gets a phone call from Brenda.  Brenda says, "Do you have an extra space for dinner right now?  We need a hen fest!"  Lucky for Brenda, I could accommodate here.

It was a shrimp, bok choy stir fry.  Since I had well over a pound of shrimp that had been thawed and cleaned, it wasn't anything to just go out to the garden and cut some more bok choy growing, throw it chopped up in the wok, and add a combination of plum sauce, freshly pressed garlic, and lots of ginger into the mix.  I served it with some rice, boiled in water with dried chicken stock.  Then it was served with an Oregon white wine we had brought down.  And voila!  Now you know that when I go to Ejido Wonderful, I say I can eat in the best restaurants in Los Angeles.

You know how hen sessions and guys are.  The gals can chat on and on for hours, and it's all "yadda, yadda, yadda."  In one ear and out the other. Several days later, I announce that I'm off to my next great Mexican adventure, and the wifey says, "NO YOU'RE NOT!"

Apparently, the gals had decided that I was to attend the very important Red Cross breakfast in town today.  Call up Steve, and tell him no go. Sheesh!  You know how women are when they really mean it. So off to to town we go.  Surprise, surprise, surprise.  It turns out to be yet another hen session, this time with lots more women.  I had a pretty excremental meal of eggs and frijoles with bits of Chihuahua cheese sprinkled on the refried beans.  Being a guy, I ate it all.  Hell, I'll eat anything.  The meal wasn't a total loss, as I ran into Olivia, who'll be able to get me a deal as well as be translator on the Mexican adventure, but I digress.

Little did I know, but about one microbe of something nasty was on the cheese. Now the funny thing about bacteria growth is that there are probably a score or more of different bacteria that are residing in your body at any time.  So when just one infiltrator slips into your system, it's hardly noticed until it multiplies to the point where it can exponentially take off.

In the afternoon, it had multiplied just enough so that my immune system was getting a painless workout.  I actually had more pep than usual, so I went for a swim in the ocean -- a long distance swim.  That's one of the things I do for exercise. Matter of fact, I swam probably a mile and a half non-stop -- a personal record  for me. Unfortunately, I did not rehydrate after my swim.  Instead, I'd made a ceviche of raw fish in lime juice, tomato juice, and chopped vegetables.  There was a lot of liquid in it, and I went to bed.

About 3:30AM, I woke up.  I felt mildly uncomfortable, and I went downstairs.  Wifey was up, and I was carrying on a conversation -- being a bit cranky. I had a glass of leftover wine.  I got crankier.  The pain in my lower, left gut was getting more demanding, and I went to the bathroom to take Shit #1.  This would be the first of several following BMs, each one getting progressively more gross during the course of this story.  As there may be children younger than 123 years old reading this, I will spare you the gory details on further said bowel movements for the rest of this story.

After I got out of the bathroom, I was really cranky.  Unfortunately, I was also getting mentally disoriented. I tried to go upstairs, and suddenly I felt as if I was having a serious brownout.  Not good.  Go to bedroom downstairs and lay down.  Turning the corner, I fainted -- just long enough to fall down and take some books with me.  I crawled into bed, and I immediately puked out the wine and the water I'd drunk. More not good. I felt temporarily better enough to go to the bathroom one more time, where I managed to spew everything out of both ends while feeling faint.  Perhaps it's time to visit the emergency room. I vaguely remember telling my wife that -- perhaps a little more forcefully than what I've described.

She calls Guillermo, as there's no way that she's going to drag this big lug all by herself to the car. So I remain on the throne in my bathrobe, in a pixelated state -- feeling worse and worse by the minute.  Eventually, after what seems like an eternity, Guillermo arrives, and they buddy-carry me to the passenger seat of my car.  No way close I'm even thinking of driving.  

I'm pretty much okay for the journey into town until Mr. Large Intestine makes himself known, telling me to get out of the car immediately.  It is with some poetic justice that we manage to stop in front of Brenda's Motel.  And I think I did the most disgusting Dump #3 or #4 yet.  And then it's on to the hospital.

By now, my IQ has probably dropped 40 points, and I'm helped into the ER waiting room.  The nurse has bad English, and my Spanish isn't so hot, but we communicate.  Guillermo finally arrives, and he interlocutes for me and wifey.  The bathroom is waiting for me one more time. Now imagine my shock, when I go into the bathroom of the ER and there's no toilet paper, and no soap or hot water!  This hospital is primitive by American standards!  I grunt to wifey for some paper, and it's back outside to the waiting room to wait for the doctor to show up.

Everything begins to be very far away.  Even though I'm sitting next to wifey, I'm hardly aware of her presence.  I close my eyes.  Reality is too bright. I hear sounds selectively, if at all.  And when I hear them, they sound disembodied and poignant. Despite my pain and discomfort, I am peaceful.

I remember being led to a gurney where the nurse yells at me in broken English. "DON'T MOVE!"  He yells this several times, as he tries to jab me with this giant needle again and again.  This actually annoys me.  Most American nurses try to find relatively nerve free spots to do an injection.  In Mexico, I think nurses just pretend to be toreadors, sticking the old bull any which way they can. OUCH!  He does this again, and again, first on my inner elbow, and then on the back of my hand. Am I some kind of diabetic junkie where it's impossible to find a good vein? Muy primitivo!

The combination of bacillus, dehydration, and sedative do their work for the next six hours.  I think I have conscious memory of about 15 minutes.  I vaguely remember silhouettes of the doctor or nurse, appearing at the door or by my side.  I get cold with nothing but my bathrobe on, and I ask for a blanket.  I get two sheets, and my feet hang out a good foot and a half off the end of the gurney.  I don't mind. I ask for something to elevate my head, and they give me something (not a pillow). These are not memories that are important.

The only thing that's important are the sound of the English Sparrows in the courtyard, so distant and far away.  I hear their music, like I never heard them before.  They might be the last things I'll ever hear in my life. I feel like I'm dying.

After some hours, the doctor comes in, and he tells me that it's time to go home.  Woozily, I get off the gurney.  And I wobble down the concrete walkway to get back into my car. My first significant Mexican medical adventure is over. The next 24 hours, I say that I could have spent my time more productively if I'd been drunk all the time.  I thought nothing.  I did nothing.  I slept. Everything operated at 5% power. And of course, the most important thing in my life are my repeated bathroom experiences.  What was it that gave me a near death experience?  Was it my ceviche, where I perhaps didn't wash my vegetables well enough?  Or was it something else?

The next night, the front part of  my brain starts functioning again, and I have marvelous dreams. I'm happy to be alive, even if my bathroom experiences continue to be unpleasant.  Through repeated trials at the bathroom, I discover that my problem was the tainted cheese at the Red Cross breakfast.  It wasn't my ceviche!

Now if I had any taste or decorum, I'd leave it there.  But I don't.  So here is my recipe for ceviche.  By the way, it wasn't the fish, because Rufi had brought it over -- ready to go and just caught from the ocean.

Take one pound of any fresh fish. Chop it up finely, and put it in a bowl with the juice of ten squeezed limes.  Let the fish cook in the lime juice, while you finely chop up one bell pepper, two Anaheim peppers, and really finely chopped jalapeno peppers. Then chop up one pound of tomatoes, one giant onion, one bunch of cilantro, and bits of cucumber, celery, and carrot if you like.  Put your finely chopped veggies in a big bowl, and pour in the fish in the lime juice. Add one can of V-8 juice or tomato juice, and gently stir.  And don't forget to add three crushed garlic cloves, salt, pepper, and Tabasco sauce.

Then go swimming, but don't forget to chug a quart or more of water after you've sweated things out in the ocean, and enjoy dinner.  But don't eat the Chihuahua cheese after springtime down here.

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Oh lord.. this reminded me of something I went through. Although seeing that fish mixtures sounds completely disgusting I will put my hand up for the cheese.
bet you dont eat that for awhile.
I had a similar experience after a midnight meal in a restaurant near downtown LA... managed to stay out of the emergency room but took me three days to get back on my feet... could never eat in that restaurant again... got nauseous at the doorway. Great recipe... world wide variations on ceviche are a trip!
I think you've got a great formula for a new show on Food Network:

Talk extensively and graphically about a horrible intestinal ailment, complete with puking, several dumps, and a great deal of pain, and follow this appetizing description with a ....
Now every time we think of ceviche......

I'm tempted to run a Name That Show request on Open Call
" So I remain ... in a pixelated state" Love it!

And sorry, if you think I am going to try the ceviche recipe after that colorful story, you've got another think coming. I ate a Hostess Ho-Ho just before I came down with the flu when I was eight years old, and I haven't been able to look at the things since.
There's a Tom Lehrer song in this.
Call me comminserating. Montezuma took revenge on me on one trip to Mexico, and I was chained to a toilet for the next six months.
Wow! If that doesn't make you want to eat all your meals at home, nothing will...
Reminds me of a time eating bad fish in the UK. As Monty Python said about Australian tables wines, "This one really opens the sluices at both ends".
~nod~ No cheese, it make you squirt out both ends!! Si!! ~:D
It's stories like this, that kept me from eating anything on a day trip to Tijuana many years ago. Even though, everything looked temptingly good!