I came to Chile with the expectation that, claro, living in a foreign country I’d experience some digestive issues. It comes with the territory right? Hence the birth of the poop update. Up until now, however, I’ve been quite fortunate with my intestinal systems. For you my faithful readers, this has meant relatively lame poop updates.
Well my friends, the tides have turned. I spent last week living with a Mapuche (indigenous) family in a small community in southern Chile called Chapod. Wheat is central to the Mapuche diet (although interestingly enough, it was unknown to them before the arrival of the Spanish in the fifteenth century) and my family of wheat farmers was no exception. The answer to what literally every cultural dish was made of was “trigo” (wheat). All week my breakfast and once (aka snack you eat at what Americans consider dinner time) consisted solely of a piece or two of bread, and often lunch also pretty grain dominated (one day it was rice and meat—for me meat, one day it was potato soup with noodles in it). Although the bread was always freshly baked and delicious, protein and fiber were seriously lacking in my diet. If that wasn’t enough to stop me up, it’s much cheaper to use mantequa (pig lard) than mantequilla (butter) in the bread. This new food item came as a pleasant surprise to my taste buds (a lot of the “bread” I ate was basically fried dough—sopaipilla—and it was delicious) but a not so pleasant surprise to my stomach (an innocent Jewish virgin to all things pig). Suffice to say I went through the week with a constant but slight gnawing nausea and very little in the poop department, but the story does not end there.
When I returned to Santiago and a world of queso, fruit, vegetables, and whole wheat fiberful bread, my system unblocked, and all that week’s worth of bread and pig lard came pouring out of me. Twice within the last two days have I feared clogging a public toilet, once in Starbucks, and once at the SIT office. Fortunately, both times I managed to clear the toilet (after three or four flushes) without so much as a track mark. You really appreciate a good poop a lot more after having gone without (also showers and beds that aren’t flea infested, two other things I lacked last week).
Despite the impediments to my digestive functioning, last week was an experience I would never in the world have traded for regularity. I learned a lot more than how to make sopaipilla, and I completely fell in love with the people who fed me all that bread. Now that you’re fully updated on my fecal happenings, I’ll commence with some more substantive reflections on my slightly constipated but nonetheless rich experiences of the past week. I hope I haven’t overstepped the boundaries of any relationships or ruined any appetites too permanently.