On the bus, my belly started to grumble. It wasn’t a good sign. Maybe I needed food? At a roadside stop I didn’t fancy all the usual snacks and picked up a banana from a fruit stall. The woman wouldn’t sell it to me. Said it wasn’t meant for eating, needed to be cooked first. In the end she gave it to me, refused to take any money. My guess is it was plantain. It was a little… different… but it gave me some energy to keep me going a little while longer.
Arriving back into Quito and it all started to go wrong. The next day came, and I was in a mess. So much for my stronger stomach following the last bug. The old Emperor Montezuma was laughing at me, getting his revenge on my gringo ways, tarring me with the same brush as the Spanish invaders all those many, many years ago. It was my Spanish teacher who told me to look up Montezuma II:
Montezuma II (also spelled Moctezuma II) was Emperor of Mexico from 1502 to 1520 and was in power when the Spanish began their conquest of the Aztec Empire. The sickness, colloquially known as the ‘squits/runs/trots’ and more formally as ‘Traveller’s Diarrhoea’, is usually caused by drinking the local water or eating food that visitors aren’t accustomed to. It is a bacterial illness, always uncomfortable, and occasionally serious. Most cases are caused by the E. coli bacterium.
The revenge element of the phrase alludes to the supposed hostile attitude of countries that were previously colonized by stronger countries, which are now, in this small but effective way, getting their own back.
It wasn’t the banana, it wasn’t necessarily the milkshake that I had before leaving Mompiche, but it most certainly wasn’t fun.