Before I start writing about living in Nigeria or about the many variations of stew-with-fish that I eat, I need to pay my respects to the thing that makes it all possible: the humble Pepto-Bismol tablet. I love those little pink chewables like they were ice-cold Coke on a blazing hot day (that is to say, a lot). Tummy feeling a little funny? Chew two tablets! Going on a trip where the toilet will be a ditch (with a few curious onlookers)? Chew two tablets! Just drank a questionable cup of water? Chew two tablets! Well . . . you’ll still have to pay the price for that mistake, but the tablets will lessen the blow.
I haven’t always been so committed to the Pepto-Bismol. I used to scoff at the wimps who would get a panicked look and pop a couple of tablets at the mere mention of a dinner of pepper soup. Then one hot August afternoon in Accra, Ghana, I encountered an innocent-looking spring roll in the café at Busy Internet. It laid me flat for the next three days and I when I finally dragged myself out of bed again, I had been converted to the way of the Pepto tab. The soothing pink color, the soft powdery texture, the chalky-sweet taste: all of these things signal comfort to me, a chewable insurance policy against the great unknown. And since I’ll happily eat anything put before me, that is a lot of unknowing! With a packet of pink tablets in my pocket, here’s to the everyday adventures of living abroad . . .