things that matter

Our Abuelas Swear By These At-Home Remedies To Cure Anything You Might Be Struggling With

@afraidofthegays / Twitter

Everyone is going down right now with the cold, but not Latinos who follow their abuela’s advice like a religion. Honestly, our families have very interesting ways to try to make your illness vanish before dinner. Whether you are putting Vicks Vaporu on your feet and weraing socks to bed or gargling hydrogen peroxide for a sore throat, some are super questionable and some are genius. However, don’t get crazy and always seek medical advice if you are sick and need assitance. That being said, here are some remedies our abuela’s swear by.

Vaporu

CREDIT: @chingonainc / Twitter

Symptoms: Literally anything.

There’s no world in which VapoRub doesn’t top this list. Our mamis put it on our chest whenever er had a cough and puts it on all her warts. The healing magic of Vaporu is endless.

It was such a staple in our childhoods that we legit fantasize about its amazing healing properties.

CREDIT: @peachquintana / Twitter

We were all up in Vaporu’s business. So much so that if you look in your house, you’ll find a few containers of the magic elixir.

“Sana, Sana, La Colita de Rana”

CREDIT: @KermitTheFrog / Twitter

Alongside Vaporu, this it’s one of the only other cure-all’s we have on deck. Mom would sing the song as she made marks up your arm and end with a very intense tickle. It always made you feel better, so there’s your proof.

El Ojo

CREDIT: @world_record_egg_g1 / Instagram

Symptoms: General Lethargy / Sluggishness

Also known as uncooked eggs. If you’re feeling general malaise, you might have the evil eye. The only way to get rid of it is to rub an egg all around your body for three days straight, it will rid you of the evil eye demons.

A glass of water.

CREDIT: @StunnaB / Twitter

Symptoms: Todo de todo.

Don’t even think about drinking that. Leave it behind your bed to absorb evil spirits in the night. Then, dump it out the next morning. Do that for a few days and you’ll be cured (or the virus will have run its course, who can say?).

Sopa de Pollo Cubano

CREDIT: @pleasant_yhetti / Twitter

Symptoms: Cold/Flu

Caption: “Sopa de Pollo Cubano para mi mujer para los gringos:

Cuban Chicken Soup for my lady it’s been said to cure everything”

#facts

Salt Water

CREDIT: @starncrescent / Twitter

Symptoms: Sore Throat

It is one of the most common cures for a sore throat in a Latino home. There was no getting a day off because your throat is sore. Gargle some warm salt water, wait 20 minutes then go about your day.

Honey

CREDIT: @suzukishigefumi / Instagram

Symptoms: Cold

Okay, this isn’t a uniquely Latino remedy, but you know your abuela has told you to have a spoonful of honey whenever you even felt slightly uncomfortable. It was even better warmed up with some lemon juice. As an adult, add some tequila and really kick that cold.

Onion syrup

CREDIT: @SwiftBulk / Twitter

Symptoms: Cough / Weakened Immune Symptom.

Yep. Just peel and cut an onion and boil it. Once it’s a bit more reduced, add honey and lime and drink that onion water like your abuelita swears her life on it.

Garlic

CREDIT: @profittech_info / Twitter

Symptoms: Frio Al Estómago

We don’t get sick because we pop raw garlic cloves like their grapes. That’s because we’re warm, tropics/desert people. So if you’re eating raw salads and smoothies all day, you’re betraying that warm stomach, and better add some garlic, stat.

A Spoonful Of Olive Oil

CREDIT: @olive_fusion / Twitter

Symptoms: Stomach Aches / Colds

Spaniards conquered us and brought us olives. At this point, you can make yourself a garlicky, caramelized onion olive oil dip and call it medicine. Abuela says it’ll help fight off colds.

Wear your socks.

CREDIT: @DogsWithPoems / Twitter

Symptoms: Existing

No matter what, you should wear socks around the house so you don’t catch a cold. It’s a preventative measure, but if you’re already sick, layer those babies on.

The Ocean

CREDIT: @ACTIPHWater / Twitter

Symptoms: An Open Wound

Whenever you hurt yourself playing outside or doing something they told you not to do, your parents, if you lived by a beach, would tell you the ocean can heal it. You could use salt + water + cotton ball and do this at home, kids, but it’s not how our abuela’s cured themselves.

Sancocho

CREDIT: @johncleats / Twitter

Symptoms: Cold / Flu

Screw chicken noodle soup, mijas. The Dominican Republic’s sancocho will build strong bones.

Mustard

CREDIT: @thecrushingcancerkitchen / Instagram

Symptoms: Cough, Congestion

If you’ve bastardized our shared identity by not having Vaporu around, you can mix mustard with an egg white and some flour. Make like play-dough and apply it to your chest to relieve coughing. We’re not scientists, we’re just messengers.

A shot of tequila

CREDIT: @JoseCuervo / Twitter

Symptoms: Cold / Insomnia

It didn’t matter how old you were. If you had a cold or stomach flu, your mom made you have a shot of tequila. The hope is that it would instantly kill the bacteria in your body, but we do not recommend this for jóvenes.

Agua Florida

CREDIT: @DrewShade / Twitter

Symptoms: Fever

Peruvians and general Miamians alike know that this is the holy water of healing grace. Pour a few drops of it over someone’s feverish head, and it’ll cool you down. Regardless, you’ll smell nice.

Manzanilla y Anise

CREDIT: @angharadlois / Twitter

Symptoms: Stomach Cramps, Nausea, Discomfort

When that stomach flu hits you, here’s a twofer. Eat some citrus for that natural Vitamin C and then boil the orange peels along with anise. Drinking this abuela-approved tea will soothe your stomach right away.

7Up

CREDIT: @TimLuijkx / Twitter

Symptoms: Nausea

Only Latinos would turn a soda into a medicine. It’s the healthiest soda in the house, so if you’re not feeling well, mami will offer you a 7Up.

Put potatoes on your feet, kid.

CREDIT: @itsjessicaacy / Twitter

Symptoms: Fever

Apparently, rubbing potatoes on your feet can also help reduce a fever.

What weird, strange, and effective Latino remedies keep your family alive and kicking?


READ: You Are Never Too Old to Try Abuelita’s Tried and True Cold Remedies

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How Working In Ecuador During The Venezuelan Crisis Helps Me Understand The Central American Asylum Seekers

things that matter

How Working In Ecuador During The Venezuelan Crisis Helps Me Understand The Central American Asylum Seekers

Courtesy of Urooba Jamal

“Señorita! Puedo preguntarle sobre—”

“Ah, lo siento, no hablo español!” (“Sorry, I don’t speak Spanish!”)

Conversations during my first few months in Ecuador often took this tune: brown-skinned and dark curly-haired, I certainly looked the part. But I didn’t yet speak it.

Once my Spanish grew conversational, I could answer the confusion — somewhat. Always in a cab, the taxista would begin his string of rapid-fire questions, beginning with, “Where are you from?”

“Canada,” I’d respond with a knowing smirk, expecting the next comment.

“But I was born in Pakistan,” would be my eventual answer and the driver’s quizzical expression would shortly dissolve out of sight.

I spent two years living and working in Quito, Ecuador, never had my identities challenge me, or take on new meaning, as they did during my time living in South America.

There were, of course, strange — and comedic — blips in this journey. My first friend there, who I met through work, was Indian, and we took on the label of desi gringas together. Desi, the general grouping of South Asians, and gringa, women foreigners in Latin America. Or so we thought.

“You don’t want to call yourself gringa,” my friend from Costa Rica told me one day, stifling back laughter. Gringo and gringa, she explained, were “annoying white people from the U.S.” We dropped that label quick.

A foreigner, but not white, brown but not Latina.

CREDIT: Courtest of Urooba Jamal

I was slowly falling in love with Latin America but I craved something familiar. So, I took refuge in Quito’s desi restaurants. Surprisingly, there were several.

There was Sher-E-Punjab, the biggest one that always came up first on Tripadvisor searches, with its fancy decor, cloth napkins, and smiling waiters. I’d have to reassure several times that I did indeed want my food “extra, extra, extra picante” (spicy) because I was Pakistani and could certainly more than handle it. It was important to add “extra” many times because Ecuadoreans add tomate de arbol — or the tamarillo fruit — to their aji, or hot sauce.

Then there was the one owned by Pakistanis, where the chefs added literal sugar to their mild curries, I assume to make them more palatable to both Ecuadorean and gringo palates.

Finally, there was the one by my workplace, which was, in all honesty, quite average, with most patrons rarely ordering Indian food, opting instead to sip on cervezas and eat a fast-food staple, papi pollo (fried chicken and fries).

I returned often because of the woman who owned the place. She had fled her abusive husband in India almost a decade ago, working as a cook and chef in many different countries before eventually settling in Ecuador.

She lived above the place she owned and had learned Spanish simply by getting to know her customers. She was so happy to speak to me in Urdu-slash-Hindi every time I came in.

On one of my early visits, I asked the restaurant owner why she had chosen to stay in Ecuador. She smiled, then replied with a laugh, “Because they don’t think we’re terrorists here.”

CREDIT: Courtesy of Urooba Jamal

A decade ago, under the former government of Rafael Correa, Ecuador ended visa requirements for foreigners, earning the credit of having one of the most lenient visa policies in the world. Many South Asians, including many Indians and Pakistanis, as well as people from the rest of Asia, Africa and the Middle East, began migrating to the equatorial country for the first time.

According to Ecuador’s National Immigration Office, while only 92 Pakistani citizens had entered Ecuador in 2006, shortly after the policy came into effect in 2008, 178 had entered. By 2010, 518 — an increase of 550 percent in just four years.

Just last year, the UNHCR applauded Ecuador for its then-new Human Mobility Law — which regularized status for all refugees, asylum-seekers and trafficking victims — but it now appears that the new government of Lenin Moreno is set on reversing many of these policies. Blaming an influx of Venezuelans migrating to the country, it still stands to be seen what this means for migrants to Ecuador from other parts of the world.

While I met many migrants from many places in the region, such as Cuba and Colombia, it wasn’t till more Venezuelans started arriving in 2017, that I became aware of a changing tone in the country.

I was taking Spanish classes at a local university in Quito, one of them a conversational class with a fiery, expressive professor who was half-Colombian and half-Ecuadorean. Always impeccably dressed, she led our class — often just me and another young woman from Norway — with no structure. Instead, she would incite class discussions on hot-button topics from abortion to the death penalty. It was hard to place where her own opinions lay, as she wove in tales of everything from family members kidnapped by guerillas in Colombia, to the first time she snuck out from under her Catholic mother’s eyes to go party at a discoteca.

On one particular day, she started off class sharing news of a taxi driver murdered in the country by a passenger. The man who had stabbed him, she explained, was Venezuelan.

“Since Venezuelans have started arriving here,” my professor started off slowly. “Crime has gone up.”

CREDIT: Courtesy of Urooba Jamal

I sat there stunned, unable to string a sentence together in Spanish — or any language for that matter. This story would be the topic of discussion in my grammar class the next morning, where my other professor implied the same. I began noticing headlines from local papers, eyeing newspaper vendors as they snaked through Quito’s traffic, and their use of the same alarmist tone about Venezuelan migrants.

For the restaurant owner from India, along with many other migrants from around the world, Ecuador was a chance to start over. The country that is Latin America’s largest refugee-hosting country became their refuge.

Elsewhere in Latin America, thousands from mostly Honduras and Guatemala are currently fleeing their homes, hoping to escape poverty and violence by seeking asylum in the United States. Their own governments have long been allied with the country they hope to reach, with the United States having backed military dictatorships and coups there. These coups are as recent as 2009 in Honduras, and as early as 1954 in Guatemala. The migrants stay stranded, having been met with tear gas by U.S. border patrol agents, amidst threats of deportation.

Before the migrants had even reached towns bordering the U.S. in Mexico, where thousands are still awaiting their destiny, U.S. President Donald Trump made inflamed remarks against them, chastising the caravan as one “full of criminals.” Residents of Tijuana, Mexico have also marched against the migrants’ arrival — with even Mayor Juan Manuel Gastélum echoing Trump’s comments.

As I follow their journey, I often flick through my Canadian passport, stamped with visas from Latin America and the world: my own family immigrated to Canada when I was two years old, leaving Pakistan forever.

Getting my Ecuadorean visa with my Canadian passport my first year was as simple as gathering my forms and picking it up four days later. By my second year, it required several more trips, many more forms, and a couple hundred dollars more; I got it four months later. The lines and wait times had multiplied: many were Venezuelans who may not receive visas at all, in not four days or even four months.

I think about these Venezuelan migrants, fleeing Central Americans, the Indian woman, about my own experiences.

CREDIT: Courtesy of Urooba Jamal

I’m finally reading Eduardo Galeano’s “Open Veins of Latin America,” the classic 1971 literary indictment of five centuries of pillage and plunder on the continent. Galeano once said: “We must not confuse globalization with ‘internationalism’…We know that the human condition is universal, that we share similar passions, fears, needs and dreams, but this has nothing to do with the ‘rubbing out’ of national borders as a result of unrestricted capital movements. One thing is the free movement of peoples, the other of money.”

Despite the despair in his writings, Galeano remained hopeful all throughout his life. On this (open) vein, I probe: What if we never had to escape to find refuge?