The Tourista Strikes in Quito

August 24, 2012

Home » Commentary » The Tourista Strikes in Quito

I don’t know which foods polluted, or at least agitated, my digestive tract, but I believe this misfortune began at one of Quito’s most beautiful hotels, a place graced with superb artwork and guarded by suave young men in suits. Downstairs, at a Thursday breakfast buffet before an early-morning conference about internet business opportunities, I gorged myself with one of the healthier options, fresh fruit smothered by yogurt. Most conferees probably had one small serving. I downed at least five, but felt fine through the morning session. For lunch I dined in one of the hotel’s five restaurants, an enormous buffet that offered some vegetarian options and cost twenty bucks.

The plain pasta and rice and bread and salads didn’t taste right, and I was beginning to feel out of focus, so I may have already been getting ill from the morning bombardment. Whatever the source of distress, I spent the final two hours of the event either planning to dash to the men’s room or doing so. That afternoon, rather than attend the official opening of the conference about living in Ecuador, I lay in my hotel bed, my head being rung by downtown cars, trucks, buses, horns, and sirens.

The following morning, a Friday, I wobbled into the conference and tactically selected a seat at the rear of a large second-floor room holding more than three hundred people eager to become expatriates. The speakers presented information about the capital city and Cuenca, an Andean haven of culture and mellow living, and the coastal cities and towns, and lawyers and real estate agents and others explained how to move there legally and with minimum difficulty and what to consider buying and how to do it. I’m sure they offered even more insights but my comprehension was faltering when present, and I was absent from about half the sessions.

Despite having become a vegan – save for nonfat yogurt – a year and a half earlier, I decided to take emergency measures and resume drinking milk. I hadn’t been able to find my new liquid foundation, soy milk, in any restaurant or hotel and didn’t have the mental or physical energy to go to a supermarket. The milk did not help. Neither did buying and eating fresh fruit that looked just like the bananas, apples, and pears I consume every day at home. At least I wasn’t worsening. And I had time to recline in bed and watch the Olympics on ESPN in Spanish. Great sports proved a modest consolation.

The final day of the conference, a Saturday, I naturally sat near the exits. After distractedly listening to a few speakers I was preparing to leave when the lady at the podium, Sarah Dettman, a registered nurse, who’d been discussing health care, mentioned that in almost thirty years in Ecuador she’d treated hordes of foreigners beset by diarrheal difficulties. As she moved to the rear of the room I hurriedly walked to her and explained the problem.

“How many times a day?” she asked.

“Fifteen, at least.”

“That’s a lot.”

As Sarah Dettman requested I reached into my notebook and handed her a paper and pen, and she wrote the following: Cipro 500 mg three times a day for three days, six pills; luperamida (loperamide in English) 2 mg, six pills, take two tablets and then one after each problem; and a bottle of suero oral (which is used for rehydration.) I was also told to drink as much water as possible.

“Where’s the nearest clinic I can get a prescription for the Cipro?” I asked.

“You don’t need a prescription for most medications. Just go to Fybeca pharmacy near here. I’ll draw you a map.”

I thanked her in the deferential way one often does helpful medical professionals, walked downstairs, got a taxi, soon arrived at the pharmacy where the pharmacist, perhaps protecting national pride, said “changes” in diet cause these problems. He quickly provided the medications for which I paid $7.65 and took the first salvo immediately upon reentering the taxi and was back at the conference twenty minutes after departing.

I felt I was getting better immediately. Taking something often makes one optimistic. I still didn’t have much stamina and only attended half that day’s sessions, but after a rough Saturday night and fearful Sunday morning during which I dared not eat breakfast prior to flying to Cuenca, I was cured and have felt fine since.

George Thomas Clark

George Thomas Clark is the author of Hitler Here, a biographical novel published in India and the Czech Republic as well as the United States. His commentaries for are read in more than 50 countries a month.

Recent Commentary


HITLER HERE is a well researched and lyrically written biographical novel offering first-person stories by the Fuehrer and a variety of other characters. This intimate approach invites the reader to peer into Hitler’s mind, talk to Eva Braun, joust with Goering, Goebbels, and Himmler, debate with the generals, fight on land and at sea and…
See More
Art history and fiction merge to reveal the lives and emotions of great painters Vincent van Gogh, Pablo Picasso, Frida Kahlo, Diego Rivera, William H. Johnson, Lee Krasner, and many others.
See More
This fast-moving collection blends fiction and movie history to illuminate the stimulating lives and careers of noted actors, actresses, and directors. Stars of this book include Humphrey Bogart, Clark Gable, Marilyn Monroe, Bette Davis, Alfred Hitchcock, Clint Eastwood, Cate Blanchett, and Spike Lee.
See More
In this collection of thirty-eight chiseled short stories, George Thomas Clark introduces readers to actors, alcoholics, addicts, writers famous and unknown, a general, a lovelorn farmer, a family besieged by cancer, extraterrestrials threatening the world, a couple time traveling back to a critical battle, a deranged husband chasing his wife, and many more memorable people…
See More
Anne Frank On Tour and Other Stories
This lively collection offers literary short stories founded on History, Love, Need, Excess, and Final Acts.
See More
In lucid prose author George Thomas Clark recalls the challenges of growing up in a family beset by divorce, depression, and alcoholism, and battling similar problems as an adult.
See More
Let’s invite many of the greatest boxers and their contemporaries to tell their own stories, some true, others tales based on history. The result is a fascinating look into the lives and battles of those who thrilled millions but often ruined themselves while so doing.
See More
In a rousing trip through the worlds of basketball and football, George Thomas Clark explores the professional basketball league in Mexico, the Herculean talents of Wilt Chamberlain, the artistry of LeBron James, the brilliance of Bill Walsh, and lots more. Half the stories are nonfiction and others are satirical pieces guided by the unwavering hand of an inspired storyteller.
See More
Get on board this collection of satirical stories, based on news, about the entertaining but absurd and often quite dangerous events following the election of President Donald J. Trump in November 2016 until January 6, 2021, shortly after his loss to Joe Biden.
See More
Join Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, Jeb Bush and other notables on a raucous ride into a fictional world infused with facts from one of the roughest political races in modern U.S. history.
See More
History and literary fiction enliven the Barack Obama phenomenon from the African roots of his father and grandfather to the United States where young Obama struggles to control vices and establish his racial identity. Soon, the young politician is soaring but under fire from a variety of adversaries including Hillary Clinton, John McCain, Sarah Palin, Sean Hannity, and Rush Limbaugh.
See More
These satirical columns allow startlingly candid Saddam Hussein and George W. Bush to explain their need to control the destinies of countries, regions, and, ultimately, the world. Osama bin Laden, Dick Cheney, Condoleezza Rice, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Karl Rove, and other notables, not all famous, also demand part of the stage.
See More
Where Will We Sleep
Determined to learn more about those who fate did not favor, the author toured tattered, handmade refuges of those without homes and interviewed them on the streets and in homeless shelters, and conversed with the poor in the United States, Mexico, Ecuador, and Spain, and on occasion wrote composite stories to illuminate their difficult lives.
See More
In search of stimulating stories, the author interviewed prostitutes in Madrid, Mexico City, Havana, and Managua and on many boulevards in the United States, and he talked to detectives and rode the rough roads of social workers who deal with human trafficking, which is contemporary slavery, and sometimes used several lives to create stories, and everywhere he ventured he witnessed struggles of those whose lives are bound In Other Hands.
See More
In compressed language Clark presents a compilation of short stories and creative columns about relationships between men and women.
See More