Tag Archives: public health

Living Like a Local: A Series of Unfortunate Events

This week marks the 5th week I’m living in Agua Caliente; the longest time I’ve ever been out of the country was 3 weeks. I thought I was doing so well with handling my time here, but as luck would have it, I was wrong and faced a series of unfortunate events.

As some of y’all know, I’m here working on my first practicum through school where I’m making Moringa fresh tea leaf samples for my professors, and also doing my own side project where I’m interviewing locals about their dietary practices at home and whether it’s acceptable and feasible to incorporate Moringa leaves into their diets. After successfully integrating myself into the community, I recruited an adequate number of female participants whom I would interview. This past Saturday, I scheduled a Moringa cooking demonstration, expecting at least 6 people to show, but I only had 3 (one of whom I literally had to walk over to the demo site myself). So that’s one. My host family tried to explain to me that flojera is a thing, where people are essentially lazy and will commit to something but end up not following through -big pet peeve-…

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Quesadillas with Moringa leaves and flowers

Religion was never something I was forced to embrace in my family, but it’s a huge part of the Mexican culture. It seems that the longer you hang out with someone, the more likely the topic of religion comes up, and it’s kind of a huge deal when you say you don’t practice one. I have been asked at least 4-5 times if I believed in God or practiced a religion. I would get responses like “Oh, that’s bad. You need to believe in God” or the best one from a Jehovah’s witness was a whole hour-long lecture about how I need to study the bible in order to be saved. To each their own, you know? It made for very uncomfortable table talk when I’d get preached…

And then there’s the issue of food poisoning. I posted about food safety on my public health blog after my first bout of food poisoning when I arrived, and was doing SO SO well being more careful with my food, until this weekend. We went to Colimilla and ate seafood at a waterfront restaurant (we were taken by boat!). Silly me, thinking that since we’re right by the water, that the seafood would be nice and fresh. When we ordered oysters, not only were they at room temperature, but they tasted fishy… I tried to convince myself it was because they were taken straight from salty seawater, but I think my gut instinct was correct. I suffered my second bout of food poisoning this week and was out of commission for two days and literally felt like the bacteria/viruses were having a party in my stomach. Note to self: don’t eat room-temp oysters –> when in doubt, throw it out 😡

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We took a boat to go to the seafood restaurant in Colimilla

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I think these were what caused my food poisoning 😥

And to put the cherry on top, I am very very averse to bugs and all things creepy and crawly, and I’ve had to endure lots of them while living here. Mosquitoes seem to seek me out wherever I am in the world… BUT, there’s one thing worse than a mosquito when it comes to staying safe: scorpions. I discovered my first one in my room, so now I’m pretty paranoid about shaking out my sheets and my clothes before I wear them ><

If you want a real experience living like a local, this is it. Find a home stay with a host family, and not a luxurious hotel, so that you can experience all the ups and downs of living in a foreign land! Moral of the story: expect plans to fall through and set low expectations, try to avoid talking about religion as much as possible, don’t eat suspicious foods, be careful of bugs 😐

Health Education in Agua Caliente Nueva

My love for public health doesn’t stop just because I’m not in a classroom in Baltimore! I attended a health education workshop this month that talked about the importance of breastfeeding for babies and infants, and also about the importance of hand-washing with soap and water! If you’re expecting or have a newborn or infant, this is the post for you 🙂

Source: Health Education in Agua Caliente Nueva

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Living Like a Local: Dealing with Pests!

I’m just about to hit my two-week mark living in Agua Caliente Nueva, and I don’t know if I’ve become desensitized to all of the creepy crawlies I’ve encountered, but it’s starting to not faze me as much when I see them crawling around. On night 1, I was attempting to go to sleep and I felt something on my neck, and I thought it was just a strand of hair and brushed my neck…and then I felt something more substantial on my leg and turned on my phone’s flashlight to find some beetle nearly the size of a dime just chilling on my bed! Trust, I was pretty skeeved and spent a good 10-15 minutes trying to calm myself down before trying to sleep again.

Luckily, that hasn’t occurred every night I’ve been here, but I’ve been disturbed by these bugs’ constant presence in the kitchen and around my bathroom sink! Just last night, I saw a macarena line of tiny black beetles marching in my bathroom sink, this strange-looking insect with funky, feathery antennae, and another beetle with these bright orange markings on its back. I literally can not for the life of me figure out where they are coming from when there are nets lining the windows! -.-

And then there are the mosquitoes… I’ve gotten so up close and personal to these abominations that I’m pretty confident I can identify the Anopheles from the Aedes aegypti mosquito. Bringing some public health into this post, there’s a health clinic in the town that has a poster outside to bring awareness and educate the community on the different vector-borne illnesses different genus mosquitoes can transmit to humans:

  • Aedes aegypti mosquitoes can transmit yellow fever, dengue, chikungunya, and Zika depending on what they’re infected with
  • Infected Anopheles mosquitoes can transmit malaria to humans

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I love how they included some methods to prevent mosquitoes from encroaching on people’s territories, such as emptying stagnant water and changing out uncovered reservoirs of water every few days. It would be even more effective to provide options for how one can protect themselves from mosquitoes, such as wearing long-sleeved shirts and long pants, or wearing insect repellent, using mosquito nets or staying indoors in the early morning and after dusk.

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I saw this really awesome sign on one of the houses that asks passersby: “What did you do today to combat mosquitoes?”

And then we have the lizards who like to stay out of plain sight, hiding behind my bathroom mirror and other picture frames. It’s a wonder how there are so many pests still lurking around the home when there are at least maybe five lizards/geckos I’ve spotted throughout the house. I’m just thinking, what the heck are you doing all day if you’re not eating these bugs for us?! They just slither along the walls like Spiderman and leave droppings wherever they go. What a useless bunch of reptiles!! What are they good for if they won’t help eat the bad insects?! 😡

Just thought I’d share the reality of living like a local where bugs run rampant both inside and outside of the house! Just this morning, I was negotiating with this bee that was holding my laptop hostage! It was hovering around my laptop when I had it outside on the terrace, and I had to have JUST the right timing to swoop in and collect my items before it came after me. Life’s rough living like a local when you’re used to  mainly black ants and mosquitoes in NYC! I miss my clean home free of any pests, but I’m finding living here to be a true taste of reality and cultural immersion.

Until the next post, hasta luego!