Entry #13:Body "issues"

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 can’t help but share a this story about a conversation I had with a Spanish-speaking pharmacist incorporating the international language of charades and embarrassment.

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 their family.

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 didn’t 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 couldn’t bear to tell that story to my grand kids, let alone have that story be told when I run for public office.

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 don’t 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: it’s 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, it’s 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 we’re 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. I’ll be vague now and let you fill in the blanks about the application process, but I’m hoping that by tomorrow I’ll be able to start the 40 mile trek, and hopefully I won’t 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 couldn’t speak English, and I don’t 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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