I came down with a bit of a cold this weekend. I thought it was really mild, just a touch of sore throat and congestion until last night when I got achy and my sinuses started throbbing. I don't think the bus exhaust is helping. Right after getting out of bed, I walked down to the pharmacy to get some medicine. Just like the English drug store in Sicko, it's only a place to buy medical supplies. No candy, no magazines, no makeup. And you can't buy medicine at the grocery store or gas station. You have to go to a proper drug store. In fact, I'm told, if you're in the hospital, you still have to find someone to go get your drugs from the pharmacy, since hospitals don´t dispense drugs.
If you've ever seen an old-fashioned, historical store, like the general store in the ghost town I visited on my way back across the US, you're aware that they used to keep the merchandise behind the counter. It's still like that in most shops here. You have to ask for what you want and they get it for you. I don't love this, because of my limited vocabulary, but I suppose in general it's faster. You don't have to wander around looking for what you want; someone who knows where everything is does it for you. I'm not sure what the advantage is for the stores. It takes more labor, but that's cheap, and I suppose it cuts down on shoplifting (as does the guy with the big gun at the door.) I'd bet the big reason that American stores let you wander is to increase impulse buying. With the products controlled by the clerk behind the counter, there's no "hmm, maybe I'll buy some chips and a bottle of Coke, while I'm getting my medicine, oh and how about a a candy bar and a copy of Us Weekly."
I made it up to the counter, after several people tried to squeeze in front of me in "line" and asked for something for congestion and sinuses. I was expecting a look of "oh, I know the perfect thing, but instead she stared blankly and typed something into the computer, said they cost $.48 a piece, and asked how many I wanted. I was hoping for something that wouldn't make me drowsy, and preferably with something other than pseudephedrine, which makes me feel funny, but I really wasn't up for sorting that out in Spanish, especially when the girl seemed to need to look up in the computer what congestion was, so I just decided to trust whatever the computer had said. Of course you have to trust it, because they take the appropriate number of pills--I'd chosen 6--from the box and give them to you without any sort of documentation, except what it says on the back of the blister pack.
The capsules are transparent and filled with little white and pink mini-pills. I was always fascinated with commercials for these kinds of drugs when I was a kid. They seem so fun, like a gumball machine, and I don't think I'd ever actually taken one--at least not one that was clear so I could see the contents. They do contain pseudephedrine (which you have to show ID to get in the US these days), but it hasn't made me feel as out of sorts as it usually does, and the cetrizene dihydrochloride, whatever it is, doesn't seem to make me sleepy.
I hope I feel better tomorrow, because the Spanish school is taking people to the Ecuador vs. Bolivia fútbol game tomorrow, and a Latin-American soccer game is something you really don't want to miss.