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The Amazon with back pain, Part II

I’m now back in Novo Aripuana (pictured), where the perfectly decent Hotel Tio Ze does not have perfectly decent beds for back pain sufferers. So, yesterday, with a nap aborted, I decided to take advantage of the two things the town seemed to offer me: a pharmacy, and a massage therapist.

Pharmacists take on extreme power over foreigners in small towns like this, presiding as they do over a limited stock of drugs with totally unfamiliar names. Sao Paulo has Advil and Tylenol. The pharmacy in Novo Aripuana had nothing of the sort. So I told the pharmacist my back was killing me, and she gave me something called Torsilax, which had no ingredients I recognized beyond caffeine, but sounded like something that might make my torso relax, which was vaguely reassuring. She told me to take one every eight hours, on a full stomach.

I figured I wouldn’t take one until after my trip to the massage therapist, whom the folks at Tio Ze told me about. The sign on the cute orange house read “English and Massage Therapy,” which showed that the family was somewhat sophisticated, maybe even a bit too much for this one horse town. (By one horse town, I mean 1,000-motorcycle town.) Turns out the therapist is from Goiania, a city I usually think of as a hick regional capital, but compared to here seems the center of the universe. She didn’t really give much of an explanation as to why she had moved here, but it struck me that if Brazil has a witness protection program, this would be exactly the kind of place it would send people.

She gave a decent massage, which relieved much of the pain. But the best part was meeting her husband — the English teacher.  And not just any ordinary English teacher: he had arrived in Novo Aripuana from India as a Catholic priest, met the massage therapist and … you can imagine the rest. (Though you may not want to.)

Walking back to the hotel, I decided it was time to pop a Torsilax, but soon felt my stomach churning and realized I had taken my Torsilax on a completely empty stomach. Bad decision. To be followed by a terrible one: a stop at the Rei do Espetinho, the "King of Kebobs," a street stand with a disco ball near my hotel.   

At the King of Kebobs, you choose your own mostly-cooked kebab, they cook it the rest of the way, and serve it to you with rice and coarse manioc flour. Could there be a worse decision than eating street food that involves fatty sausage and gristly chicken at a place with a flashing disco ball? I ate most of it, passed the rest to a surprisingly unmangy dog who was scrounging around for a bite, and went back to the hotel.  The good news … the pain has left my back entirely. The bad news … it's moved to my stomach.

http://www.globalpost.com/notebook/brazil/091106/the-amazon-back-pain-part-ii