Say what you will about Malaria but at least you can pronounce it. I asked ten gringos to articulate the name of the virus threatening to turn the Ecuadorian coastland into a ghost-land and got everything from Chinkabinka to Charliechanuka. Chikungunya, an African word meaning to walk bent over, is also the name for this highly feared mosquito borne affliction. Even Quasimoto would think this name odd and he was bent over to begin with. Why not make important names easier to remember for the masses? After a year as a patron, I am still trying to correctly say Nucallacta, a fine Cuenca coffee shop that I have endearingly designated “NukeTheLactose” after watching an employee heat up milk in a microwave. Not that I am a fan of regulatory commissions but maybe there should at least be a disorder naming committee, point in case “Aspergers”, it’s bad enough that one suffers from it, did they have to call it something that when pronounced sounds like the worst sandwiches in the universe?
Officials claim Chikungunya is the most painful disease in the world, unless of course you count racism which I find excruciating on an emotional level. The symptoms of the virus are said not only to be joint pain but also headache and stomach cramps, very similar to the consequence of drinking boxed wine with your street stand almuerzo. I’m not even sure the boxed version is completely wine, it even says CLOS right on the label. I am still trying to figure out how to fit those boxes in the wine rack.
Apparently people who live in the Andes are safe from the virus because foreign mosquitoes cannot live up here, at least until they figure out how to get on social security. Official epidemiologist’s attempt to assuage fear from those living at our upper altitudes claim that “if you live high, you’ll be fine” which coincidentally is also the slogan for many of the Colorado marijuana dispensaries.
This plague is not only in Ecuador, but Colombia is said to have as many as 100,000 cases. The Colombians were going to seek assistance from the US until the perpetually dramatic American government began referring to it as it’s war against the Bug Cartel… Having lived through Dengue fever which I caught from the same type of A. Aegypti mosquito in the Borneo jungle while searching for a nomadic tribe, my only advice is to not live in fear of insects because the true affliction would then be Chikungunyaphobia and even if you could pronounce it, why let a tiny vampiric fly rule your world?
GRINGO LINGO (Ecuador geographic edition)
Mintanita – breath candy used to mask what you imbibe on the coast
Quitox – eliminating expensive airport food from your diet
Bañostradamus – someone who can predict the best time to visit the hot springs
Milagrowth – A miracle that your jungle borne houseplants didn’t get aphids
Ambatote – discount leather luggage
Macastle – braving the Amazon jungle in a five star eco-resort
Salinuts – 20 people vacationing at the beach in a one bedroom condo
Azoguess – arriving at a place and being unable to figure out why you visited to begin with
Ushapudding – a bit more lavish than Paute pudding
Guayakill – fear of being lost in unknown neighborhoods
Buddy Winston, a Cuenca resident, is a former film and television writer, including the Tonight Show with Jay Leno. He was responsible for writing Jay’s nightly monologue for many years. His book “An Out Of Buddy Experience” is available on Amazon.