Have you ever sniffed rubbing alcohol to prevent vomiting? Steeped ginger root in hot water to cure nausea? Rubbed lemongrass oil on mosquito bites?
Well, you know who has? Mama Pearl.
And so have I, thanks to her.
Real quick: If you ever find yourself in a similar situation as what follows, don’t feel badly. I mean, if it happens, you’ll actually feel really awful, and hindsight will make a mockery of what you’ll eventually refer to as “the incident.”
But don’t despair. Just find Mama Pearl.
It was during my first trip abroad without my own mother—I was just 15 years old and ready to conquer the world—when I found Mama Pearl. Coincidentally, that was also when I learned that no matter where you go, mothers really do know best.
It’s not like my mom let me go unprepared. My mission was to help build a school and run a children’s camp. Meals and lodging would be provided by the local community. Mom triple checked that I had my Pepto Bismol and bug spray, among other things. But spending your days laboring beneath a tropical sun, fighting humidified Caribbean heat exhaustion, it’s hard enough to remember to take regular water breaks. So, when a friendly local offered me slices of juicy, freshly-picked mango, my first thought wasn’t, “I need to wash this in clean water first.”
If properly cleaned, local fruit can be delightful. If not, a single bite can lay waste to an entire trip. Pun intended. At that point, the best thing you can do is take solace in the fact that we’re all alike—when we’re sick, we want our mothers—and go find Mama Pearl.
Mama Pearl is your travel angel on earth. Bearing the haloed status of the local Mama, she knows all the natural remedies that work so much better than the over-the-counter pills and potions you’ll so quickly forget in your haste to seize the day. And once you do indeed seize something, Mama Pearl won’t have to ask what it is. She’ll know just by looking at you. Because yes, she’s that good, and yes, you’ll look that bad.
But she’ll care for you with the same sense of tender urgency that your own mother would (or that you wish she would). Even after you’ve recovered, she’ll smother you with instructions for further healing. She’ll sneak you special food at meals. She’ll notice and treat other unrelated ailments, like the mosquito bites covering your DEET-bathed extremities. And then she’ll send you back to work—because you still need to do what you came to do—with extra water and a snack.
Because no matter where you go, a Mama knows.