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Practical tip: How to pronounce "Diarrhea" in Spain

2020 Camino Guides
Camino(s) past & future
See signature. Too many to list here.
Ok, this is meant to be sort of funny, but also practical.

On about 1/3 of my Caminos at some point, along the journey, I have suffered with diarrhea. It's not fun.

I have no clue what caused it, but I have noticed that in my latest Caminos I have not experienced it as much. I think it may be because I am more discerning with my water sources, choosing to fill up reused bottles from regular tap water devices (faucets) rather than some random fountain in a cow pasture, and regularly purchasing new bottles as well. I know it sounds like common sense, but it took me a while to learn it.

Now, should the same discomfort befall you on your next spiritual journey, its important that you learn how to pronounce "diarrhea" in a Spanish pharmacy.

Spanish pharmacies are great. The workers take their jobs very seriously. Its not like in the US when you walk into a CVS and some dork behind the counter doesn't know much. I think the workers at Spanish pharmacies take actual classes and training (or it appears so because at least they wear white coats.) If you can accurately describe your symptom (diarrhea, knee pain, cellulite on your backside, etc.) they can often sell you the appropriate remedy.

Now, I was in Ponferrada, sick out of my mind, choosing to stay at a hotel rather than an alburgue because I knew I'd be spending some extended time on the toilet. After checking in and relieved with the recently unfamiliar privacy, I decided a pharmacy was in order. NOTE: Tiendas or SuperMercados do not have the goods required to cure this or other everyday medical issues, I think the pharmacies have a union or something, or its some government regulation.

I walked into a pharmacy nearby, and proceeded to have the following dialogue while very embarrased:

Me: Hola

Pharmacist (in fancy white coat): Hola

Me: Tiene algun para [Die-a-re-ah]? (Do you have something for diarrhea?)

Pharmacist: Puzzled look.

Me: [Die-a-re-ah]

Pharmacist: Same puzzled look.

Me: (totally embarrased that this exchange has taken 2 requests but practicing Spanish) Mi mierda es como agua. (My bowel movements are like water.)

Pharmacist: Ahhhh [dee-a-ray-ah]!

Problem solved. Pills handed over. Discomfort ended.
 
Last edited:

SYates

Camino Fossil AD 1999, now living in Santiago de C
Camino(s) past & future
First: Camino Francés 1999
...
Last: Santiago - Muxia 2019

Now: http://egeria.house/
...NOTE: Tiendas or SuperMercados do not have the goods required to cure this or other everyday medical issues, I think the pharmacies have a union or something, or its some government regulation. ...
Great post! I can solve at least that mystery. A pharmacist has actually studied pharmacology and is therefor allowed to sell / hand out medications and a shop assistant in a tienda has rarely studied pharmacology ;-) Buen Camino, SY
 

Lachance

Me llamo Deb
Camino(s) past & future
Part Francese 2016
Haha. I went to check the Google Spanish/English translation window, The Spanish speaking lady, who usually drawls in a pretty laid back way, muttered it so quickly under her breath that I had to turn up the vol and replay 4 times.
 
Ok, this is meant to be sort of funny, but also practical.

On about 1/3 of my Caminos at some point, along the journey, I have suffered with diarrhea. It's not fun.

I have no clue what caused it, but I have noticed that in my latest Caminos I have not experienced it as much. I think it may be because I am more discerning with my water sources, choosing to fill up reused bottles from regular tap water devices (faucets) rather than some random fountain in a cow pasture, and regularly purchasing new bottles as well. I know it sounds like common sense, but it took me a while to learn it.

Now, should the same discomfort befall you on your next spiritual journey, its important that you learn how to pronounce "diarrhea" in a Spanish pharmacy.

Spanish pharmacies are great. The workers take their jobs very seriously. Its not like in the US when you walk into a CVS and some dork behind the counter doesn't know much. I think the workers at Spanish pharmacies take actual classes and training (or it appears so because at least they wear white coats.) If you can accurately describe your symptom (diarrhea, knee pain, cellulite on your backside, etc.) they can often sell you the appropriate remedy.

Now, I was in Ponferrada, sick out of my mind, choosing to stay at a hotel rather than an alburgue because I knew I'd be spending some extended time on the toilet. After checking in and relieved with the recently unfamiliar privacy, I decided a pharmacy was in order. NOTE: Tiendas or SuperMercados do not have the goods required to cure this or other everyday medical issues, I think the pharmacies have a union or something, or its some government regulation.

I walked into a pharmacy nearby, and proceeded to have the following dialogue while very embarrased:

Me: Hola

Pharmacist (in fancy white coat): Hola

Me: Tiene algun para [Die-a-re-ah]? (Do you have something for diarrhea?)

Pharmacist: Puzzled look.

Me: [Die-a-re-ah]

Pharmacist: Same puzzled look.

Me: (totally embarrased that this exchange has taken 2 requests but practicing Spanish) Mi mierda es como agua. (My bowel movements are like water.)

Pharmacist: Ahhhh [dee-a-ray-ah]!

Problem solved. Pills handed over. Discomfort ended.
Foolish boy! simply say "Tengo las cacas" ? I have the shits! best used when hurtling thru the bar trampling grannies and infants into the ground whilst looking for the little house on the prairie? :) methinks thou hast not taken thy immodium! BE WARY for the dreaded immodium can give thee the stoppers and verily thou shall be looking for medicaments to clear the log jam and the great circle will begin again!

the malingerer
buen camino and happy yule!
:)
 

bernhugo

Active Member
Sounds a funny post but the symptoms are not funny.
Incidentally I understand that the spelling of word in Spanish that you tried to explain is diarrea.
Stephen(from my neck of the woods) suggested not saying it but just miming it.
Please do not try this if you do have the dreaded "trots"
 

J F Gregory

Portugal Central - October 2019
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (March-April,2016) finished, (October 2019) Portuguese Central Route.
:) How do you say creeping crud in Spanish : atero mugre.
 

zzotte

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
2012 Camino Frances, 2014 Lourdes to SDC, 2016 Camino del Norte
Its all in the accent LOL
 

Carol06

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (May 2012)
Frances (May 2015) all going well and with my husband this time.
Made my day. Love it. Hmmmm. Mime it?
 

William Garza

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances, The Jakobsweg
Local
Colloquial...

Chorro's
Pronounced like cho rose

"Yo comi el camaron con pollo frio y tengo los Chorros..ayudame por favor..."

I ate the cold shrimp and chicken and i have the ...
Help me please!
 

bernhugo

Active Member
On a practical note- why not write "Tengo diarrea" on a piece of paper ,and take it with you, in case the shop assistant/ pharmacist does not speak English?
 

t2andreo

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
C/F: 2013, 2014
C/M: 2016
C/P: 2015, 2017
C/I: 2018
Voluntario: 2014 - 2019
If you need to keep a note with the phrase (Tengo las cacas, mierda agua, or Tengo diarrea) written down on your person, you need to seriously consider changing your diet (eat plain food) and shifting to buying bottled water, or only refilling from known safe sources - usually tap water in most all towns and cafes. Also, moderate your alcohol intake and drink more water each day.

BTW - I try to avoid this condition by taking ONE 2 mg tablet (Loperamide or Immodium) each evening before sleep. It only works to SLOW movement down so my "gut" can absorb more water from whatever I ingested. Biologically, that is the difference between regularity and diarrhea (too fast movement / motility of the junk in your gut).

For me, it works. But, do remember, that everyone is different. After more than 60 years out of nappies, I have learned how to take control. Try this at home first.

Constipation is NEVER a problem, the typical peregrino diet takes care of having enough oil in my diet. On three Caminos, I did find that taking the small, nightly, prophylactic dose of loperamide definitely helped me regulate when and where I "disposed" of the excess... And that, my friends, is the secret to an "eventless" Camino... NEVER underestimate the value of regularity... Happy gut = happy Camino!

I hope this helps.
 

Wokabaut_Meri

somewhere along the Way
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Francés 2015
Pilgrims Way 2018
Via Francigena #1 Canterbury-Dover 2018
On a serious note, I always carry a Kwikpoint medical visual translator card. It has literally proved a lifesaver. You'll find your dee-a-ray-ah pictured in the red section under 'Symptom: Head/(LOL)Other:

dee-a-ray-ah.png
On a less serious note, when we were in Nepal many years ago (before discovering Kwikpoint cards) my husband had a similar experience trying to obtain medicine for his delicate problem. He successfully returned with herbal haemorrhoid cream and applicator. When we landed home in Australia he declared both as herbal medicine (used) on the incoming passenger form. Couldn't understand why the Customs officer didn't want to closely examine either :D
 

Jeff Crawley

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Contemplating yet another "final" Camino
but will I be fit enough for 2020?
According to my friend Therese (loony Irish, tin whistle blowing, pilgrim, paediatrician) you put your hands together as in prayer and raise them in front of you, just above your eye line; twist your hands so the backs now meet; bring your hands swiftly down to waist level, moving them apart and spreading your fingers at the same time as you say "Whoosh!"
Apparently this will be instantly understood in all farmacias . . .
 

SYates

Camino Fossil AD 1999, now living in Santiago de C
Camino(s) past & future
First: Camino Francés 1999
...
Last: Santiago - Muxia 2019

Now: http://egeria.house/
... try to avoid this condition by taking ONE 2 mg tablet (Loperamide or Immodium) each evening before sleep. It only works to SLOW movement down so my "gut" can absorb more water from whatever I ingested. Biologically, that is the difference between regularity and diarrhea (too fast movement / motility of the junk in your gut).

For me, it works. But, do remember, that everyone is different. After more than 60 years out of nappies, I have learned how to take control. Try this at home first.

...
The problem with this method is that if you have already germs in your digestive tract, you will keep them there and not expel them as fast as possible, making an unpleasant situation potentially dangerous. Diarrhoea is the natural method of a body to get rid of potentially harmful substances. SY
 
Camino(s) past & future
Past? Not enough.
Future? Sure!
According to my friend Therese (loony Irish, tin whistle blowing, pilgrim, paediatrician) you put your hands together as in prayer and raise them in front of you, just above your eye line; twist your hands so the backs now meet; bring your hands swiftly down to waist level, moving them apart and spreading your fingers at the same time as you say "Whoosh!"
Apparently this will be instantly understood in all farmacias . . .
Could you post a video of it? :rolleyes:
Just for the learning effect, naturally :D

Buen Camino, Jacques-D.
 

Margaret Butterworth

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
2013 (Pamplona to Burgos)
2014 (Burgos to Villafranca del Bierzo)
2015 (Villafranca to Santiago)
2016 (Le Puy to Conques; SJPP To Pamplona)
SY, I agree with you BUT.... There are occasions when you need to stop it ASAP (in the middle of the night, or the middle of the Meseta). I always take a pack of Immodium with me, just in case. They weigh hardly anything.
 

VNwalking

Wandering in big circles
Camino(s) past & future
Francés ('14/'15)
San Olav/CF ('16)
Baztanés/CF ('17)
Ingles ('18)
Vasco/CF/Invierno ('19)
Meri, that flashcard would be incredibly useful--thanks for the heads-up!

I live in Burma, and accept what food I'm offered--and take care of foreigners who are in the same boat. So on this subject I have quite a lot of hard-won expertise!
SY's totally right. Imodium makes a bad situation worse and is only good for 'emergencies'--for example, if you can't change your plans and you have to fly or take a long-distance bus.
There are occasions when you need to stop it ASAP (in the middle of the night, or the middle of the Meseta).
We may be shy and squeamish about it, but this doesn't count as an 'emergency'. Especially not the middle of the night: if you must, get a hotel room with attached facilities, rest, and wait for the symptoms to move through. They will, and much faster than if you prevent the gut from doing what it needs to do.
 

t2andreo

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
C/F: 2013, 2014
C/M: 2016
C/P: 2015, 2017
C/I: 2018
Voluntario: 2014 - 2019
I agree with SYates. However, everyone's digestive system is different. Mine is über sensitive to spicy and oily (fried) foods. It is both an age-related and medical situation. Even one or two tapas will have me in the loo all night.

So, it is not an issue of "getting the bad germs out" as Sybilla states. In MY CASE (only) it is about slowing the process down so normalcy and regularity are the result. It is the predictability that is so important while on Camino, at least IMHO. Each person must do what is best for them.

Of course, if I did contract a gastrointestinal illness while on Camino, I would definitely hunker down in a lodging for an extra day if needed, to allow the "bad stuff" to get out, then use the standard curative dose of at least 2 loperamide tablets.

As a rather large fellow, I find that the single loperamide tablet will not glue matters up, but simply slow matters down. Fortunately, and so far, I have not yet had the pleasure of the "trots..." But, I have learned NEVER to say NEVER.:eek:

All said, I only do this when on Camino. Once I arrive, I am back to crossing my fingers every time I eat...

I hope this clarifies matters...
 

Pete Hohmann

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances in September, 2015
Camion Portugués in September 2016
I also had severe diarrhea and lost 2 days at Carrion de los Condes. I am pretty certain mine was from bad sanitation. So many restrooms did not have soap. It's easy to get careless, like using the toilet and then eating a bocadilla without fully sanitizing your hands. The priority item I will add next time is hand sanitizer and I will use it before eating.
 

Albertagirl

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (2015); Ch. d'Arles: Oloron Ste Marie to Aragones; Frances (2016); V.d.l.P.; Sanabres (2017)
I have carried loperamide with me on extended backpacking trips for most of my life, as well as on the camino. On the rare occasions when I had diarrhea I have taken one tablet, which has always stopped it at once, without any side effects. If you feel that you must put up with diarrhea for health reasons or fear of side effects, go ahead. I shall continue to use loperamide when I need it, with gratitude. Fortunately, I did not need it on my recent camino, but I had it with me.
 

Wokabaut_Meri

somewhere along the Way
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Francés 2015
Pilgrims Way 2018
Via Francigena #1 Canterbury-Dover 2018
Meri, that flashcard would be incredibly useful--thanks for the heads-up!

I live in Burma, and accept what food I'm offered--and take care of foreigners who are in the same boat. So on this subject I have quite a lot of hard-won expertise!
SY's totally right. Imodium makes a bad situation worse and is only good for 'emergencies'--for example, if you can't change your plans and you have to fly or take a long-distance bus.

We may be shy and squeamish about it, but this doesn't count as an 'emergency'. Especially not the middle of the night: if you must, get a hotel room with attached facilities, rest, and wait for the symptoms to move through. They will, and much faster than if you prevent the gut from doing what it needs to do.
..and that's how my hubby got haemorrhoids and then an anal fissure :eek: Imodium made a passing problem a much more painful one!
 

peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
And incidentally, they always seem to know the best places to eat in their towns!
Nuala, that has been my experience too. I ALWAYS ask in the pharmacies for places to eat. Here is my theory -- they live in town, they know a wide swath of the population, they have to be connected to be successful. Yet they are not likely to be either so low brow or high brow to suggest places that wouldn't be suitable for me or my budget.

I can't recommend this technique highly enough when you are in a new place. Asking a random person on the street might also work, but I swear by the pharmacists!!!
 

VNwalking

Wandering in big circles
Camino(s) past & future
Francés ('14/'15)
San Olav/CF ('16)
Baztanés/CF ('17)
Ingles ('18)
Vasco/CF/Invierno ('19)
I can't recommend this technique highly enough when you are in a new place. Asking a random person on the street might also work, but I swear by the pharmacists!!!
Great idea, Nuala and Laurie--I never thought of that. Not only for the reasons stated, but also because they're on the 'medical front lines' and so will surely know the 'trouble spots' where hygiene is a bit lax.
 

peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
Great idea, Nuala and Laurie--I never thought of that. Not only for the reasons stated, but also because they will surely know the 'trouble spots' where hygiene is a bit lax.
Not wanting to derail this lovely thread too much, but I will also say that when in a pinch, I always find the pharmacists will help me out. I remember once in Bandeira on the Vdlp when I needed to get an email to my parents ASAP and couldn't get any wifi. A pharmacist took me to the back of the store and gave me his computer to write on. Things like this happen to me regularly with pharmacists. They are wonderful people (I know that's a stereotype) but think about it -- pharmacists are interested in public health, they live by choice in these small towns, they like helping people, they are educated -- in short, they are my "go to" guys in any small place when I have a problem or a question!!!
 

t2andreo

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
C/F: 2013, 2014
C/M: 2016
C/P: 2015, 2017
C/I: 2018
Voluntario: 2014 - 2019
Thank you for the pharmacist tips! They are very useful. After three trips, I find I still have a lot to learn and share.
 

SYates

Camino Fossil AD 1999, now living in Santiago de C
Camino(s) past & future
First: Camino Francés 1999
...
Last: Santiago - Muxia 2019

Now: http://egeria.house/
... I ALWAYS ask in the pharmacies for places to eat. Here is my theory -- they live in town, they know a wide swath of the population, they have to be connected to be successful. Yet they are not likely to be either so low brow or high brow to suggest places that wouldn't be suitable for me or my budget. I can't recommend this technique highly enough when you are in a new place. Asking a random person on the street might also work, but I swear by the pharmacists!!!
Two pharmacists chatting at the annual Spanish pharmacological convention:

"Do you also get harassed by pilgrims asking where is the best place to eat in your town?"
"Yes, me too, somebody might have mentioned that trick about us on a forum!"

:confused: SY
 

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