I was already carrying a cold when I arrived at Abdel’s house but by then, my body didn’t feel sore and heavy like it did while I was in Fez so the terror of last Wednesday night really caught me by surprise. I don’t want to blame it on the food I ate at Abdel’s house because all the homemade meals were delicious and were nothing out of the ordinary of a pescetarian diet – bread, lentils, steamed vegetables, fish. If anything I might have had too much of it, since there are a total of four meal times: breakfast, lunch, afternoon snack (what in Spain/Mexico we call merienda) and dinner.
Abdel’s sister Iman cooked dinner that night, serving a glorious platter of homemade french fries with meatballs along with salad and a sweet unknown fruit that tasted like the birth-child of a pear and an apple. Dinner was served at 10pm and while I’m not used to eating such heavy meals at that time, I blame the yummy bread and coffee that I had at 6pm for not allowing me to eat as much as I wished.
But I did eat and as soon as I was finished, I knew something was off. Abdel and I were picked up by one of his friends and we drove to a cafe. Once I got out of the car, I sensed a sweetness in my mouth that warned me something awful was about to happen. Then I vomited.
It didn’t last long and I was able to sit and listen to the love story of Abdel’s friend, who is in the process of applying for a visa to come to the U.S so he can get married to his other half. A woman who we met over the internet a year and a half ago and has only spent six days together with her but spends each night awake so he can Skype her.
Before getting in the car to drive back, I vomited on a second plant outside the cafe. This time was worse than the last, with Iman’s dinner, unfortunately, coming out of my nose. I slept for about two hours before I was woken again by the sweetness in my mouth. And because life thought it would’ve been amiss for me to only kneel in pain that night, she eventually made me crouch too. And let me tell you that using a squat toilet (Google this), at 4am while having diarrhea is exhausting.
Feeling alone and helpless, unsure of what to do or where to go, all I could think about was my mami. But she was far away and I was alone as a guest in a family’s home I had just met, unable to call her – mostly so she wouldn’t worry.
I was scared about getting dehydrated and ending up somewhere in Morocco with an IV sticking out of me. “Do they sell Gatorade here?” I asked Abdel, which my mom always buys for me when I’m sick, but I received only very confused looks from him. I asked him for some mint tea and after a couple of minutes, he came back into the room and said, “Come, my sister has other means”, which I found hilarious even as I felt I was nearing death.
I slowly made my way upstairs and into Iman’s kitchen. She opened up a bag of strong smelling loose tea and with it, made me a large pot. I drank two cups and sat very still, worried that I would awaken the monster inside my body at any moment. During this time, Iman showed me some lovely pictures from her wedding on her small cellphone. Eventually I lay down and miraculously, slept all night without any disturbance from my body.
Iman’s magical Moroccan tea saved me. She said it was called Fleo (pronounced like ‘flu’), although I can’t find information about it on the internet. No matter, I brought some with me! Before leaving Abdel’s mom gave me a large bag and although I hope I won’t need it anytime soon, it gives me a lot of comfort having it in my luggage.