Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Flashback: Georgia: A Story of Poo

I ran across this story recently. It's the kind of experience that's not funny at all at the time, but crazy-funny looking back.


Friday, October 21, 2011


Georgia: A Story of Poo

When I thought of the things I'd be doing in Georgia, I thought of a lot of fun and interesting things.

Carrying a stool sample on a marshrutka, en route to the doctor's office, was not one of those things.

Marshrutkas, Rustavi, Georgia. 2012.

And yet there I was. 

A cold and rainy day. Plagued with diarrhea for the previous five days, now on the sixth.

On Wednesday, I finally went to the doctor's building to get things checked out.  

I often say there are no secrets in Georgia. This is especially true in Georgian medical facilities. Privacy? Confidentiality about medical matters in Georgia? [Insert laugh track here.]

No, two doctors share an office, their desks side-by-side. Patients describe their complaints simultaneously to their respective docs, while other patients sit on the examination table awaiting their turn.

So I did all that on Wednesday, describing my symptoms. The doctor eventually prescribed a bag o' drugs for me, and then asked if I wanted to bring in a stool sample the next day for testing. Yeah, I did, because I don't think I've ever been afflicted with diarrhea for so long, and I wanted to nail down the cause, if possible.

Nodding agreement, the doctor then gave me a specimen container.  Hahahahahaha! That's a complete lie! No, they don't have such things at this medical building. It would be up to me to figure something out.

I went home to my empathetic hostess, who, nevertheless, was confident that the nature of my problem was simply the "change in the weather." At this point, I was feeling a little exasperated with the firm beliefs, held by most Georgians, that the following cause illness:
  • Change in the weather
  • Drinking cold water in cold weather
  • Not wearing slippers in the house

I had a bit of a tantrum, pointing out the Missouri sometimes experiences HUGE swings in weather from one day to the next - FAR more volatile, in fact, than Georgian weather, thank you very much - and that, by God, Missourians could kick Georgians' asses any time of day from our hardiness, and that I have been around the block a few times, for Christ's sake, and I think ..... oh well, need I go on?

At any rate, Nely, who graciously remained unfazed, rooted around in her medical-supply drawer and pulled out a round-bottomed, unlidded, glass thingie. A pretty little thing. In the past, she used it for home-remedy "cupping" where you heat the glass then apply it to the sick one's back to create suction. She said this would make a good specimen container. I protested, saying it was really an antique and had value, but she shrugged and insisted that I use it. She boiled it in readiness for the big do the next morning.

[Note: Since we're talking about poo anyway .... When we were children, my siblings and I were taught to use the word "go-go" to indicate the need to use the toilet, as in, from parent: "Do you have to go-go?" Or from one of us, desperately: "I have to go-go!"  In Georgia, "gogo" means girl. Thank God my siblings are grown-ups now because if we weren't, we'd be giggling every time we heard the word. Though I think we brought one sibling to tears once when we called him "gogo-wicki" over and over and over again.]

So the next morning the specimen was captured and pretty well sealed and I carried it gingerly within my big festival bag and onto the marshrutka (with the plan to look meaningfully at a fellow passenger in the event an odor emanated in the van, hoping to deflect suspicion onto that innocent soul and away from me), then off the marshrutka and up to the doctor's office.

The actual bag in which I carried the poo.


Oh wait, I forgot to mention that I'd forgotten that the container had that round bottom, so when I did the capture, I set it atop the toilet tank and .... oops. Fortunately circumstances were such that getting an additional specimen was not an issue.

Is all this TMI? Hell, don't blame me; you made the decision to read this far.

So I carried my little specimen to the doctor and subsequently found myself, still carrying it, following a woman through the corridors of this building to the lab. Robust women populated the lab; none looked pleased at what I brought for their consideration and review. My escort, however, prevailed upon them to take it and do something with it. Based on the body language I observed, I'm guessing the conversation went something like this:

Lab woman: "What the hell are you bringing us here? We don't have time for this shit!"
My escort: "Yeah, I know, but this American woman, you know, we have to deal with her because she's part of that program the president has."
Lab woman: "I get so tired of this shit!"
My escort: "Yes, I know my darling, but you know what they say -- shit rolls downhill, so what can I do?"
Lab woman: "Goddammit! Give it to me, then, and get out of here. Jesus. Same old shit every day. My job is shit ... ."

So we left my specimen in the lab woman's capable (and ungloved) hands and returned to the doctor's office to await the results.


Word arrived that I had a lot of something or another in there. Next step - blood sample. Back to the lab. A woman (ungloved) pricked my finger, and then sucked up the rubber collection tube to allow more room for the blood to flow into it. She also smeared some blood on a glass slide, then put another atop it.

I went back to the doctor and she escorted me from one office to another, consulting with other doctors about my situation. Then we returned to her office, where she informed me that she wanted me to to the Infection Hospital for more testing. I'll cut through some of the attempted, aborted, language-barrier conversations to the point where Nana, my excellent TLG regional representative, arrived to translate and to escort me to the hospital.

We took a taxi, walked through mud to the rear entrance (hospital under renovation), wound through some corridors to an office with the infection expert, who asked me various questions, then palpated me, then ... ok I'm boring myself. Moving forward .... an employee delivered to me a sweet little glass jar with a glass stirrer, which she had poked through a hole in the paper-towel-like covering that was bound to the jar with sort of a blue ribbon. It was like a little gift package. In which I was to provide another specimen. Which I did.

Fast forward to Monday afternoon when results in. Anti-climactic. Everything normal.

Not sure what did the trick, but by Sunday, things were fine. It could have been any of the following: 
  • Time
  • Salt mixed with chacha (which does not taste good, btw)
  • The various "enzyme" drugs I took
Ah well, as long as things turned out in the end.






Monday, February 27, 2017

Mexico: Juarez: Second Date


Juarez, Chihuahua, Mexico. December 2016.


December 2016

I had my second date with Juarez a couple of days before Christmas.

On Fridays, there are food kiosks in the plaza in front of the old church. Smokes and smells and colors of delectables scintillate.

Juarez, Chihuahua, Mexico. December 2016.

Juarez, Chihuahua, Mexico. December 2016.

Juarez, Chihuahua, Mexico. December 2016.




A coffee shop has live inside entertainment by an accomplished singer.

Juarez, Chihuahua, Mexico. December 2016.

A parking lot's walls host disturbing, compelling art.

Juarez, Chihuahua, Mexico. December 2016.

Juarez, Chihuahua, Mexico. December 2016.


I don't know what the heck Don Quixote de la Mancha is doing there, but it's a tad curious, out in the open 'n all.

Juarez, Chihuahua, Mexico. December 2016.


A slide show below:

December 23 in Juarez, MX



Related posts


Sunday, February 26, 2017

El Paso: Segundo Barrio: The Turtle and the Treasure


Felhaber turtle, Segundo Barrio, El Paso, Texas. October 2016.


October 2016

Well, I am laughing as I write this. Because you just never know what incredible story lives behind a picture, a discarded item on the street, a tiny altar, a ribbon tied onto the desiccated branch of a dead tree, a half-clothed Barbie doll stuck through a chain link fence. 

So it was with the militant turtle-dinosaur(ish) on the wall above.

I snapped the turtle (heheheh) because I had a language student affiliated with a company that has a turtle logo. I planned to show him the image and we'd consider the messages it conveyed.

But I also looked up the business that shared the wall.

Holy tortoise shells!

The headlines burst at me:

The story opens like an action movie that glues you to your seat for the next two hours: The businessman arrived at the Treasury Department carrying a suitcase stuffed with about $5.2 million. The bills were decomposing, nearly unrecognizable, and he asked to swap them for a cashier's check. (Associated Press)


You can watch the real-life trailer here, in this AP video:




And people ask me why I moved to El Paso.

Saturday, February 25, 2017

El Paso: Segundo Barrio: The Pink House

Pink house, Segundo Barrio, El Paso, Texas. October 2016.



I covet this pink house. 

Pink house, Segundo Barrio, El Paso, Texas. October 2016.


I love the cheeky attitude of it within sight of El Paso's downtown seriousness.

Pink house, Segundo Barrio, El Paso, Texas. October 2016.


I smile every time I pass it, and think how nice it would be to live right there, in all its pink glow.

Sharing this pretty with you gives me a chance to revisit my Pink House Collection from New Mexico, in the slide show below:

Pink Houses, New Mexico








Friday, February 24, 2017

El Paso: Segundo Barrio: The Community


Segundo Barrio, El Paso, Texas.


El Paso's Segundo Barrio (Second Ward) isn't just about artistic murals, such as here and here.

There is a living community here, a historic one. Earlier, I posted about a walk through Segundo Barrio, an encounter with a sensory garden.

The PBS station in Austin, KLRU, has a series called One Square Mile, in which it zeroes in on one square mile of a community, and tell stories about it. One episode is about El Paso's Segundo Barrio.


You can watch it in its entirety here. It's only half an hour long.

Sacred Heart is one of Segundo Barrio's cultural anchors. I attended Mass here one Sunday.

Sacred Heart Church, Segundo Barrio, El Paso, Texas.


 Below is a slide show of Segundo Barrio, which includes my Sacred Heart photos:

Segundo Barrio, El Paso


"My mom and my dad we always had in the glove compartment a salt shaker." So reminisced (in the documentary) a Border Patrol officer born in Juarez, but who grew up in Segundo Barrio. (His family and I - we are from the same tribe.)

He alludes to Segundo Barrio as "a way to connect, it's an opportunity, an opening, a gateway, to both countries."

From a 2013 article in Texas Monthly, The Other Ellis Island:
Segundo Barrio, with its turn-of-the-century tenement buildings and dozens of brightly colored murals, is one of the most historic neighborhoods in the country. As the first community that immigrants encounter after crossing the Rio Grande from Juárez, it is known as the Ellis Island of the border, and over the years it has played a role in the Mexican Revolution, the zoot-suit pachuco counterculture, and the Chicano civil rights movement. A mural celebrating this history ... depicts well-known residents of the barrio past and present and, instead of the Statue of Liberty, shows the Virgin Mary welcoming newcomers from across the river with a flashlight and a towel.

Virgin Mary welcoming immigrants, Segundo Barrio, El Paso, Texas.


A young teacher in a Segundo Barrio school: "We have students who have never been to the inside of El Paso, who have never gone to the west side, and so sometimes that's part of my job when we take [my robotics students] to competitions, to [show them] there's more than downtown El Paso. Go and see what's out there and see how their lives are different than ours."

There are, as one Segundo Barrio resident explains in the documentary, families who've lived in Segundo Barrio for three and four generations.


A muralist in the documentary explains the cultural importance of the murals - they preserve the memories of the neighborhood's cultural experience. They remind the neighborhood residents of their shared history. A sort of family album where the pictures are on walls instead of inside a bound book. He further suggests that "We, in a way, created El Paso" by dint of the Segundo Barrio's residents who went into the larger reaches of the city to clean the houses of those more wealthy, those who went out to work in the fields that produced the food for El Paso, and those who went out to work in homes to repair and maintain and build structures.


El Paso's rebirthing of a trolley system will go through Segundo Barrio. The tracks have been laid. Streets previously in casual disrepair are now new and white. How will this affect the community, I wonder. Build it, deepen its richness of community? Or begin a process of gentrification, in which the neighborhood suddenly catches the eyes of speculators who hearken back to conquistadores of old in search for those streets paved of gold? Or somewhere in between, a place that honors the families and neighbors who've been in Segundo Barrio all along and which invests wealth and opportunities?


Thursday, February 23, 2017

El Paso: Upper Tom Lea Park: Obelisk in October


Upper Tom Lea Park, El Paso, Texas. October 2016.

October 2016


Upper Tom Lea Park in El Paso - not many parks can compete with its photogenic self. The sweeping view of the sister cities. The front row seat to pendulous full moons. The grace of the small, well-formed trees. The sturdy lines of the stone obelisk. The low stone wall. The curving paved path.

Upper Tom Lea Park, El Paso, Texas. October 2016.

It's the location of the Friday evening drumming circle from May through October.

Upper Tom Lea Park, El Paso, Texas. October 2016.


Lovers come here. Families with children. Couples with dogs.

Upper Tom Lea Park, El Paso, Texas. October 2016.


Newlyweds come for photographs.

Upper Tom Lea Park, El Paso, Texas. October 2016.


Public parks such as the Upper Tom Lea are where all people can gather freely. It's one of our inalienable rights: the pursuit of happiness.

Upper Tom Lea Park, El Paso, Texas. October 2016.


A slide show of Upper Tom Lea Park, with and without the obelisk:

Upper Tom Lea Park, El Paso




Wednesday, February 22, 2017

El Paso: UTEP: Pursed Lips


Sunflower. UTEP Chihuahuan Desert Gardens. February 2017.



En route between my place and Miners Hall, I passed through the UTEP's Chihuahuan Desert Gardens.


Sunflower. UTEP Chihuahua Desert Garden. February 2017.


Tight-lipped sunflower buds drew me closer.

Sunflower. UTEP Chihuahua Desert Garden. February 2017.


Their posture was almost balletic with the graceful bent of their heads atop their slender torsos.

Sunflower. UTEP Chihuahua Desert Garden. February 2017.


Tuesday, February 21, 2017

El Paso: Chamizal: Carlos Flores


Carlos Flores, "The 187," exhibited at the Chamizal, El Paso, Texas. October 2016.

October 2016


I visited the art exhibit at the Chamizal National Monument one day. Carlos Flores was the featured artist.

"The 187," above, unsettling. I wish I knew more about it. I did look up "the 187" and discovered it is a reference to murder. The scope targets on the chests of the woman, girl, and man are obvious. The girl's eyes, she who is studying English, disturb.

Carlos Flores, "Refogios," exhibited at the Chamizal, El Paso, Texas. October 2016.

I love the painting above. The grandmother at the ready to protect the young boys. Her direct gaze, no-nonsense strength. Her beauty of character.


Carlos Flores, "La Batalla por Juarez," exhibited at the Chamizal, El Paso, Texas. October 2016.


There is this Mexican-US border art that prizes warrior women; it draws me.









Monday, February 20, 2017

El Paso: Downtown: Museum of Art Green-White-Black

Gift shop, El Paso Museum of Art, Texas. January 2017.



January 2017

My first visit to the El Paso Museum of Art. Saw some cool stuff. Not the least of which was the way the light hit the green and white pedestals on which staff placed shop items.

Gift shop, El Paso Museum of Art, Texas. January 2017.

Gift shop, El Paso Museum of Art, Texas. January 2017.


Gift shop, El Paso Museum of Art, Texas. January 2017.

Gift shop, El Paso Museum of Art, Texas. January 2017.

Gift shop, El Paso Museum of Art, Texas. January 2017.

Gift shop, El Paso Museum of Art, Texas. January 2017.


Sunday, February 19, 2017

El Paso: Downtown: High Cheeky


Levanta pompis, El Paso, Texas. February 2017.


I love this word, "pompis." 


Levanta pompis, El Paso, Texas. February 2017.



Saturday, February 18, 2017

El Paso: Downtown: Coffee Box


Coffee Box, El Paso, Texas.


The first time I heard of the Coffee Box, I was cold and had just finished attending something downtown. I saw someone with a coffee cup in her hand. I asked her where she got her coffee. She said the "Coffee Box," and waved her hand in a direction and said, "San Jacinto Plaza." 

I was so new to El Paso, I didn't know about anything.

So I heard the word "coffee" and the word "box" and "plaza." The first place I saw at the San Jacinto Plaza was the little kiosk-y cafe, and I thought, huh, this must be it.

No, no, no, no.

The coffee was groaningly bad. That metallic taste when the machine hasn't been cleaned in too long, where you're much better off with the cheap-assiest brand of instant coffee than this. Now don't get me wrong - the food at this kiosk-y place is quite popular, and I love that it's open so late every night at the plaza. Just don't get the coffee there.

I didn't discover until later that the Coffee Box, which is, actually, in a box, two boxes, one atop another - is over on the other side of the plaza, in a parking lot, really.

Coffee Box, El Paso, Texas.


Coffee Box coffee: good. Not amazing, stupendous, or out of this world. It's good, and there ain't nothing wrong with that.

Local artwork.

Coffee Box, El Paso, Texas.


Pretty tight quarters on the street level; upstairs there's a breezy deck and a cozy interior. Free wifi.

Coffee Box, El Paso, Texas.



When the El Paso wind shoos through, which she likes to do, the box shivers.

The wallpaper design on one wall. Eye play.

Coffee Box, El Paso, Texas.

Coffee Box, El Paso, Texas.

Coffee Box, El Paso, Texas.

Coffee Box, El Paso, Texas.

Coffee Box, El Paso, Texas.