Sunday, May 11, 2014

Getting Sick (From the Food) While Traveling

I've gotten sick, diarrhea, multiple times while traveling. A lot of people get sick traveling in Asia and Africa. A lot of people, even former locals of these countries, eventually get sick of the food. It's funny, dal bhat apparently is even not liked by some Nepalese who live in the western world and return here to visit family, yet I could eat the stuff every day. Dal bhat is generally vegan, and reminds me a lot of the vegan meals I ate last year. Plus, they keep giving you seconds and thirds. Most meals, especially the western ones, are pretty limited, but rice and dal they just keep giving and after nine hours of backpacking that's pretty nice.

I'm pretty stunned that I didn't get sick this time. I was really expecting to get some sort of sickness. I did have some loose bowel movements on the trek in, but one Imodium cleared that up. Gut bacteria is the new genome, the cure for every ailment is supposedly linked to gut bacteria now. I'm pretty sure that on my 11th country now, and after spending over a year of my life living in the mountains, I've got some pretty awesome bacteria. It's no surprise that after time our bodies get hardened to the environments we subject them. Other people were sick, some multiple times, and I had no real problems.

The standard tips are to drink only bottled water, or boiled water drinks like tea, and wash you hands often. It's pretty simple, carry a bottle of hand sanitizer and use it after going to the bathroom and before meals. I didn't worry about clean water as much on this trip as I have in the past. I mean to say, I drank a whole lot of tea, and you never really know if they boil the water or just heat it up. Also, the way they bottle water locally everywhere, after paying 25 cents for a one liter bottle I have to wonder how pure it really is.

Nepali food and I got along quite well. Indonesian food was really spicy and the fish with all the scales still on and bones still in was intimidating. Pakistani food was a shock at the time, but in hind sight only the goat was really not an enjoyable experience. Rwandan food was basically the same as the three above with more sweet potatoes and chicken instead of goat or fish. Costa Rica is the same rice and beans three times a day. The challenge in these places, as it is in the USA too, is of course their cleanliness standards for washing things, but also they use different oils and I think that the shock of changing the type of oils used makes things slide through a little differently. Also to my benefit, I can be pretty good at boring monotonous tasks, like running over an hour a day or eating the same meal every day and that helps me cope in places where, because of the money, they eat the same meal every day and sometimes multiple times per day. It might also be worth noting that as far as my engineering career is concerned, I've never had a sick day. I've taken personal days for hospice and a funeral, but not for being sick. Huh, I didn't realize that until just now.

By the way, I hate porridge. It's gross. I'll take oatmeal 100% of the time over porridge.

Well, I leave Nepal in like six hours. The next time you hear from me I will probably be blogging from my parents basement. It's been an interesting trip to say the least.

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