I Got The Flu in a Hostel

| May 31, 2019

I am currently in Lima, Peru. And, as I knew was inevitable when I first travelled to another country, I have been incredibly sick the past week or so. We decided we would travel to Huarez, a smaller town that is about 10 hours north of Lima into the mountains for a few days. High altitude, lack of running water, and the flu all contributed to me not having the best time. But it wasn’t all a loss, let me tell you all the things I learned from being incredibly sick in a hostel in a developing country.

Western Culture has invaded

From the food to the entertainment, I was surprised to see little bits of the West everywhere. People who lived on isolated farms without their own supply of clean water had smartphones with Facebook. In a restaurant we visited I could order Cuy, a roasted guinea pig or a burger with fries. To help with my sickness I was offered some tea made from Coca leaves (i.e. what cocaine is made from), but could also walk to the cornerstore to pick up some American-branded drugs.

Some people may say that Western Culture has corrupted and hurt these people, that all the ways we’ve influenced them has only served to create a bastardized version of their own culture. But those people are wrong. The people I met and things I experienced were all still distinctly unique, even if they had some splash of West thrown in. And many Western inventions have helped people immensely. Phones have connected people who would otherwise need to travel for hours to see each other. Bottled water provides much needed fresh water on the go in a country where most the natural water you find is undrinkable. Very western themed restaurants and shopping stores provide a much needed respite from most people’s six-day work week.

People live normal lives

If I am going to be honest, I figured going into a developing country with high levels of governmental corruption and poverty rates that there would be more unease within the people group. But there seemed to be very little concern. Peruvians are not anymore afraid of crime than we are, even though it is statistically much more likely to happen. I think the difference comes in the reassurance that strong governmental infrastructure brings. For example, if you are robbed in the United States, you can file a police report knowing that they are going to attempt to apprehend the robber. You can go to court. You essentially have avenues to fight for your own justice. If you are robbed in Peru… that’s pretty much it. You could notify the police, but chances are not much is going to come out of it.

My biggest fear was knowing that I had a serious case of the flu in a hostel room without running water. Knowing that if I had any serious medical conditions, it wasn’t as simple as calling 911 or getting a ride to a hospital. It would be a long time to get any serious medical attention if I needed it. But despite my many preconceived notions and inner fears, it honestly wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. People here just live.


I think one of the most egregious sins that people in the U.S. commit is that of intellectual colonization. Many people I meet think that we are either helping these countries by bringing them into the modern age, or that we are corrupting them with our culture and technology. I think both those views are incredibly misguided and incorrect. People learn and develop off each other. It’s vanity to assume that our culture has significant impact on theirs at all. Honestly, I enjoyed my time being sick in Peru.

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