Well, I certainly made up for all the nothing I did yesterday! I woke up a little later, but had eaten and was ready to go before 1. Then, I hopped in a car with two coworkers, Tim and Olivia, and Tim’s two daughters. After about an hours drive south, we reached our destination and climbed out. Tim hadn’t mentioned what we were doing, but apparently, we were meeting some others to go to a fish market! I don’t think I’ve felt more out of place since getting here! It was a crowded place with shelves full of fish, eels, crabs, shrimp, snails, and clams of varying aliveness. At one point a large shrimp tried to jump to freedom and hit my leg. I also got spit on by quite a few clams. The smell where the fresh fish was wasn’t so bad. It was only when you got to the dried section that it got very strong. At one point, I was almost grateful to the vendor smoking, since it dispelled it a bit. It was hot and humid, but there was also a breeze, which was nice.
For lunch, we stopped and my hosts had all the fish they had bought cooked. I hadn’t known we were going to be eating and had eaten lunch beforehand, but they seemed concerned that I wasn’t hungry, so I tried some dragon fruit, mango, and rice to ease their minds. Unfortunately, they still noticed I wasn’t eating any seafood. To quote Dr. Sweeny from Atlantis, “I hate fish. Hate the taste, hate the smell, hate all them little bones.” I tried to say fish makes me sick (which is true; the taste and small tend to make me nauseated) but before I knew it I was given a spoonful of sea urchin.
There was no other way out.
It was bad. It was so, so bad. I should have asked if it was cooked, because it wasn’t. Instead, I ended up gagging on a large, cold, mucus like glob of very fishy slime with bits of what might have been sand in it. I tried to be polite about it, but it was clear I was struggling since they offered me a napkin and to pour me a shot. When I declined, they gave me a glass of non-alcoholic beer, which unfortunately still had all the taste of real beer. I was full pretty soon since I hadn’t been hungry to start with, but lunch lasted over an hour, so I nursed my cup and a bowl of fried rice. I felt bad that I hadn’t eaten much since I really didn’t want to appear rude, but after the urchin and several cups of various teas, my stomach was tapping out.
After lunch, we drove a short distance, and stopped at the ocean! It was incredible! there were packs of stray dogs, crabs all over the rocks, and a large breakwater made out of cement bricks. I took off my shoes and socks and tied them to my bag to wade in. It was WARM. I couldn’t believe it. The sand was soft and the water was warm. After wading a bit, we climbed onto the cement wall, and I sat down on one to look at the water and crabs. We stayed for a while, but I honestly hope I can go back again soon, but this time to swim and stay all day.
Driving back, I started feeling really bad. Luckily most people in the car were asleep because I didn’t want them to know I was nauseated and weak. Call it revenge of the sea urchin, but I wanted to throw up anytime I thought about eating or being around fish for the foreseeable future. Before we got back, we stopped at a supermarket so I could grab some food. I ended up buying laundry soap, milk, nuts, and some chips. back in the car, Tim’s daughters surprised me with a bag. They had bought me some KFC from down the road. Honestly, I was really flattered but also extremely embarrassed, since I know they did it because they were worried I didn’t get enough to eat. No matter how many times I tried to tell them I had eaten beforehand, I don’t think they really believed me. Anyway, I’m back in my room now, chasing down what is the spiciest KFC sandwich I have ever eaten with gulps of milk and Pepto Bismol. Despite some embarrassment, I’m glad I got to go today.