Hem·or·rhoid (hm-roid) n. (1.) An itching or
painful mass of dilated veins in swollen anal tissue. (2.) A bodily
malfunction that can make one dread a 5 day, 40 mile walk through
one of the World's most pristine National Parks, Torres Del Paine, Patagonia Chile.
Sorry if that is too much information for you, but I cant help
but share a this story about a conversation I had with a Spanish-speaking
pharmacist incorporating the international language of charades and
First, I need to back up to where I left off. I was in Buenos Aires
catching up on the creature comforts I had been missing in the home
of my friend Erin and her husband Craig. We ate lots of meat and drank
lots of wine, both specialties of Argentina. I was also able to catch
up on some sleep and basically just take it easy. Thanks again to
Erin and Craig for hosting me and for welcoming me as a member of
I left Buenos Aires with Jacq -(short for Jacqueline, a friend from
Boston that is joining me for 10 days to hike these trails) for El
Calafate, Argentina, which is the world famous Patagonia area of Chile
and Argentina. Our first stop was the Perito Moreno Glacier - which
you will see from the photos is Amazing- with in minutes of arriving
we saw a 300 foot by 50 foot multi-ton slab of ice calve (fall) off
of the Glacier wall and crash with multiple explosions into the icy
lake below the sound was like dynamite going off. It was a humbling
and exciting experience (sorry I didnt get
any video of it).
At some point during the day, my poop hole had a malfunction, which
turned sitting or even just standing around into great discomfort.
So with a 5-day, 40-mile long hike only a few days away, I knew I
needed to seek the help of modern medicine rather than let nature
take its course. Can you imagine how embarrassing it would be to have
to be rescued by Chilean park rangers from the deep woods of Patagonia
because of anal inflammation? I couldnt bear to tell that story
to my grand kids, let alone have that story be told when I run for
I needed Preparation H like I never needed it before...well actually
I have never needed it before. Anyway, I stopped in to the Pharmacy
in El Calafate, and to give you and idea how pharmacies in Chile work,
they are part Home Depot, part Toys r Us and part CVS. So a
little old lady comes out from the back and says "Buenos dias,"
and something else in Spanish, which I assumed was, "Can I help
you?" I asked, "Tengo Preparation H?" which I think
translates into, "I have Preparation H." The gentle old
lady smirks and then gives me a look and shoulder shrug that translates into, "I dont
understand." I correctly guessed that Preparation H must be marketed
under a different name outside of the US.
I then told her, "Es esta Creama." (Translated: its
a cream.) She immediately starts guessing like a contestant on the
$60,000 Pyramid, and motions with her fingers rubbing an invisible
acne cream on her face. I responded, "No, its not an acne
cream, but it does treat inflamed tissue." She then motions with
her hand as if brushing her teeth with a toothbrush and toothpaste.
To which I replied, "No, not toothpaste, but at least were
talking about an opening of the intestinal tract, but I need to treat
the other end," while simultaneously making a hand motion pointing
to my nether regions. As if she had finally won the game, with a big
smile she shouts, "Herpes!" As my face floods with blood
in embarrassment, I mumbled, "No the other side," and made
a more descriptive hand gesture."Hemorrhoids?!" "Si!
Si!" I responded, and in no time I was buying some hydrocortisone
cream and running out of the store (as fast as I could with Hemorrhoids)
with my head down, totally embarrassed. Ill be vague now and let you fill in
the blanks about the application process, but Im hoping that
by tomorrow Ill be able to start the 40 mile trek, and hopefully
I wont be flown back to Boston Medical Center to have surgery
on my back side.
Sean at the Peirto Moreno Glacier- 27 miles of ice and growing!
From Jacq: This much I know: Sean has a wonderful self-deprecating
sense of humor, which makes for a great travel companion and a really
embarrassing friend. There are no limits.
Anyway, this place is amazing - we're about to embark on a four-day
hike through a part of the world none of you should fail to visit
before you die. And the people are incredibly friendly. I just spent
an hour solo killing some time while Sean told you about his "issues."
During that time, a really sweet old man sat next to me in a cafe
and we spent a solid 10 minutes trying valiantly to communicate, but
he couldnt speak English, and I dont speak a word of Spanish.
15 minutes into the effort, he decides to tell me (in English) that
he's a drunk from Alaska and that I need to learn to speak Spanish
if I'm going to visit Chile. That was my lesson for the day. Off to
the trails tomorrow! THANK YOU Erin and Craig for keeping us overnight
in the city! Jacq
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