April 13, 2010

Brand Conditioning in the Amazon (or pretty darn near)


By Sara Holoubek

It's 11pm and the party is going on downstairs. I can hear the music evolve as the number of voices increases. The barbecue smells strong and the festivities are clearly good.

Upstairs I am repeatedly vomiting from some very deep place in my soul. The force and strain are absolutely incredible, and I see that my throat is bleeding. Delirium sets in as I lie down on the bed.

I am simultaneously sleeping, dreaming and hearing the party. My inner party girl wants so bad to descend, but my physical self simply cannot. Sometimes, it's just as well that we succumb to what the body demands.

The next day, we wake up early and take a minibus to a dry place between the city and the sea. It drops us off 20 minutes short of our destination, and so we walk under a hot sun. When we arrive, the smell of herbs is strong.


We have come to see "O Indio de Yrapuan," the native Amazonian healer whose shelves of powders, teas and syrups are only outweighed by the number of verbal consultations he offers. Our list of provisions are to last a year in New York, and though I was not seeking a remedy, Claudio offered up my symptoms. The result was a small plastic cup of grainy liquid placed in my hand. Despite the "maca's" wonderful healing properties, I felt like gagging. I refused, clearly insulting everyone. In these cases, it is sometimes better to be the stupid foreigner, as all can be blamed on lack of culture and ambiguous origins.

We leave with our booty and somehow make it home where my body repeats the malaise of the previous day. A chill sets in and I am reintroduced to my slumber of strange dreams. I wake up at that point of day when the light hits the curtains just so that one is not sure if it is morning or evening.


Downstairs, familiar faces ask how I am. My body is weak, and the stomach fragile. It has been two days without nourishment, yet I can’t imagine keeping anything down. I politely say no to the soda crackers, mashed potato and banana.


At this point, I am offered the global elixir for all gastro-intestinal ails: Coca-Cola. Far from a soda-drinker, old wives tales and some brand conditioning from years past produce an answer for me.

"Yes, that sounds quite good."


Sara Holoubek is a free agent consultant serving the interactive sector and its investors. She can be reached at saraholoubek@gmail.com.

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