Somehow, Meg thought that getting away from junk food would be the key to losing weight this summer. She was sure she had read statistics somewhere that the reason obesity was so bad among people living on food stamps or at the poverty level was that they bought the cheapest food they could find. That was always starchy, sugary, over-processed, full of salt and fat. It was cheaper to buy a couple boxes of sugar-laden cereal or donuts than invest in fresh fruit and omelets for breakfast, for instance.
Going to this part of Mexico, just an hour over the border from Texas, was supposed to remove the junk food and limit her to fresh food. Well, the made-fresh-every-day part of the menu was right. Nobody told her that they would be eating tortillas three times a day, often fried, heavy on the beans, or fried plantain chips. A carbohydrate-lover's paradise, but murder on someone who was already afraid she was on the verge of turning diabetic. Worse: what sort of treats did the missionary teams bring down with them for the children in the orphanage? Lots of hard candy, bubble gum, gummy candy. Sugar, sugar, everywhere.
Forget the trick of filling her stomach with water whenever she got hungry, in case she just needed to re-hydrate. Nobody went anywhere without bottled water, and they all got three bottles every day, rationed more carefully than the chicken or the locally made sausages (don't ask what's in them, just eat and say "thanks").
There was always the "diet trick" of drinking the local, unfiltered, unpurified water, infested with who knew what microbes, diseases, and microscopic creatures. Good for losing lots of weight, fast -- if she didn't mind carrying something home that would prevent her donating blood ever again.
Meg made sure she walked for exercise every morning and evening, just because she spent so much time sitting down with the girls in the main house of the orphanage. All that sweating should have done her some good. So how come her jeans felt as tight as they did when she climbed on the plane in May?
"It's only mid-July," she told herself.
Unfortunately, that just made things worse.What had she been thinking, coming down here with just two years of high school Spanish -- and definitely Spain Spanish, rather than Mexican Spanish, because nobody understood more than half of what she tried to say -- and expecting to be able to teach anybody anything? The only saving grace was that the girls didn't talk much when they came for lessons, and they seemed to understand what she was trying to teach them through just signs and sketching little diagrams on the battered old chalkboard at the front of the long room. Meg loved the mismatched group of girls, always scrubbed rosy clean, their hair neatly and tightly braided out of their faces, so eager to learn.