Chameleon Chapter 7 - Activating International Eating Rules
After the sickness, we recuperated in Dunedin for a couple of days before heading to Te Anau with Deb to stay at her coworker’s “batch” (Kiwi for cabin) on the lake. We sandwiched our stay at Allen and Helen’s on the lake with a cruise to see the fjords on the Doubtful Sound. Allen and Helen were staying at the batch that weekend as well, and when we first walked in I could immediately smell the pot roast in the oven. Saying Sara and I were hungry at that point was a serious understatement. Deb liked to graze instead of sitting down for meals and she assumed that since we had been sick we still must have been recovering our appetites. So meals were scarce and unsatisfying and neither Sara nor I were being assertive enough to make our needs clearly known. So we were hunger.
By the time we arrived Te Anau it had been five days without what I would consider a proper meal (including the last day in Nepal plus our 30 + hours of travel). I had been tested in self-control, using all my willpower to restrain myself when Deb grabbed a bag of chips from the cabinet, poured some into a tiny bowl to share, and then placed the bag of chips back into the cabinet. I could have eaten that entire bag of chips. What made it worse was that there wasn’t a lack of food available. It was around, but somehow it felt like we weren’t supposed to eat too much. It got so bad for me on the car ride to Te Anau that I got carsick. When we stopped at the gas station, I got out and bought a loaf of bread and a chocolate protein bar. I got back in the car and proceeded to sullenly sit in the back with my headphones in while I shoved slices of bread into my mouth and ripped off bites of the protein bar. Not my best moment.
Dinner rolled around in Te Anau after “we” had declined the tea and biscuits Helen had offered when we arrived in lieu of a speed walk around town. At that point, I had already made up my mind. I was going to eat whatever was available, even if that meant consuming red meat for the first time in three years. So when Helen told us she made a pot roast (ach! one of my favorite meals growing up) and asked if I was vegetarian, I responded with a timid no. I caught Sara’s delighted expression out of the corner of my eye – our shared cuisine opportunities had just expanded significantly. Dinner was delicious and didn’t make my stomach hurt, which felt like a miracle! This was coupled with the relief of not having anyone make a fuss over what I could and couldn’t eat. It was easy to eat vegetarian in Nepal and India so this was the first real challenge – and I promptly failed or won (depending on how you look at it). I wouldn’t look back for the rest of my trip.