Monday, February 9, 2009

‘Rosier than a communist propaganda poster’

This is how my good friend Alex describes my blog. It is true, I love it here and this is, as cliché as it sounds, a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and so this is how I present it. But, of course, there are also less ‘rosy’ sides worth mentioning. Amongst others, I think I should include a few lines on health and safety. This especially goes out to next year’s GEPers (applications are open by the way) and other future adventurers (like my brothers, who I already imagine on exciting travels in a few years, and already worry about, sister goose that I am).

I’ve been talking about great foods, motorbikes, traveling- you should know that we really are careful about a number of things, and though I don’t advise unnecessarily paranoid stress, I do recommend taking health and safety seriously. For example:

-Food safety: we don’t eat unpeeled raw fruits and vegetables (salad, tomatoes, cucumbers, apples) in small restaurants or from street food vendors. At home we do, after washing them with soap. We might eat meat from street vendors but it must be well cooked and still hot/just off the fire. And we only drink bottled water (or from branded bags- unbranded ones are just tap water) or water that has been boiled.

-Traveling: we don’t travel between cities after dark (by bus or motorbike- and it’s forbidden by WFP car too). I would never have gotten on the motorbike if Kath wasn’t so careful and didn’t have years of experience. Other things to consider are the large zones without telephone network and the possibility of robber ambushes.

-Health: there are pros and cons to preventive anti-malaria medicine, but with or without it’s still important to be protected against mosquitoes (mosquito net, long sleeves and closed shoes in the evening, anti-mosquito spray) and to check for malaria as soon as there are signs (as proven by Kath’s recent malaria- unpleasant, to say the least). We have a great book, ‘Where there is no doctor’, for advice on health matters, from nutrition to fever to tropical diseases to antibiotics. It’s a very useful reference even where there are doctors and can be downloaded for free at The Hesperian Foundation.

These are just a few examples. Some risks are unavoidable, but it’s about minimizing those that are and being conscious of those that aren’t. I’m not writing this to scare anyone (in fact I do generally feel safe, in part precisely because we are prepared), but just to emphasise that it’s important to think about these things too.


Blogger outreach said...

Hi Alix,

My name is Tearrie and I work as the publicity associate at Hesperian. I came across your blog today via Google Alerts and I just wanted to say thank you for linking to our website and sharing information about our organization with your peers and friends. Did you know you can also check for African-language translations of our books? Here's the link,
Check it out when you get a chance.

Good luck with your endeavors!

February 13, 2009 7:18 PM  

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