Saturday, December 15, 2007

Buenos Aires Field Notes: Little salt, please?

I think we discovered the mystery to Rob's fainting. The clues were these:

1) I see a lot of people (especially on hot days) drinking this stuff , which looks like soda, through a straw. I thought it was soda, in fact, because so many people drink that too. Coca-Cola in bottles is very popular here. Then, in the grocery store, by the Gatorade, I noticed it-- water with electrolytes added. Aha!

2) People liberally salt everything. In a café, you typically have a salt-shaker on the table, but no pepper. And when everyone gets their food, the first thing they do is pour salt over everything. I thought this was a little weird.... until....

3) Rob's acquaintance (an Irishman met in the same ex-pat bar), asks him if he's getting enough salt. That's the medical advice he got when he first arrived and wasn't feeling well.

4) We're sweating. A lot. I'm not a very sweaty person, and on a normal day without a lot of exertion, my blouses are wet under the arms. Imagine how much water we are losing through evaporation that we don't notice.

So. I bought the water + electrolyte stuff at the store (which costs 1/2 the price of Gatorade because it is made in-country), and after we each gulped down a bottle, we felt like we had more energy than we had had since we arrived. And Rob hasn't fainted or felt light-headed since. We had already been drinking water, but I guess it wasn't quite enough.

Lesson learned. Don't take salt for granted. Yes, you can have too much, but you can also have too little.

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