Friday, February 1, 2008

My last full day in Canada for four months

... was full of great people. After spending most of yesterday having fun with my brother (which was totally worthwhile) and not getting anything done, I was all agrumble and anxious this morning until A.G. called from Nicaragua, which really just perks a person right up. It's been strange not hearing certain voices every day, and it was really comforting to get that hit of familiarity this close to departure.

Later I got to grab some food with T.G., who I'm excited for - I'm happy to hear that people are noticing that she's way too competent for her current job, and there may be people out there who will go out of their way to help her out in the near future. Also, the moving to the UK.

Finished it off with my grandparents and J.P., who is getting married next summer. I'm to keep an eye out for plate-sized mirrors and jewelry for the bridesmaids (which includes me). And the full series box set of X-Files DVDs - of course there's a reason we've been friends for so long.

I'm realizing, partially through talking to some people who have experience in the area, that a lot of the advice in our guidebooks is really ethnocentric, and proceeds from the assumption that any decent white person will be traumatized by any degree of exposure to anything (or -one) not Judeo-Christian and North American / Western European in origin. This is not totally surprising. One of the "resources" I was given at the travel clinic I went to was a booklet on different types of diseases found in different parts of the world (eg. cholera, typhoid, dengue fever) accompanied by maps of where the diseases are high- and low-risk. Pictured below: the entry for Traveller's Diarrhea.

The entry states that the cause of the "disease" is exposure to unfamiliar bacterial cultures. As you can clearly see by the map, unfamiliar bacterial cultures apparently ravage everywhere outside North America, Western Europe, and Australia. Baffling. I understand that my pamphlet is geared at Canadians, but surely this map incorrectly suggests that something is just wonky in the microbial life of all developing areas which isn't wonky where we live. (Of course that's not true; any perfectly healthy person born and raised in any of those dark-blue places is likely to get sick as death when introduced to 'benign' Canadian bacteria [-ae? -um?].)

So, within reason, I'm going with a new strategy: Ask The Locals.

I can't believe how many new things I've had to acquire for this trip. New backpack, new shoes, new camera cards, new first aid supplies, new water purification stuff, new thermal leggings, new hot/cold long-sleeved shirt, new immunities... I got new glasses today, because my prescription was 2 years out of date. Apparently my eyes have disintegrated way more than anyone's eyes should disintegrate in two years. I blame Robert Lecker, my computer screen, and the hours 3 through 7am.

I got the "why India" question a total of 4 times today. I've more or less resorted to "Read this... you'll see."

But, in case anyone is still unconvined:

See you soon!

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