22 September 2006

Common Practices to Avoid Disease

For anybody who's never been in a country that doesn't have water your body is accustomed to readily available, this explains the basics. First, you don't get to enjoy any fresh or raw food without a degree of concern. You can eat most anything normal that's cooked all the way through for more than 5 minutes. You can eat most things if you just soak it for 5 mins in chlorinated water (doesn't really affect flavor). You can drink anything that's been boiled for 5 minutes. The hard part is (1) being certain that this is true of anything you are served and (2) being certain that every single utensil, plate, cutting board, and hand, has also gone through proper procedures. Generally that means washing with only purified water or soaking it in chlorowater for 5 mins as well (kind of a pain for hands).Eating out under these circumstances is an adventure that usually entails crossing your fingers now and crossing your legs later. Don't trust any word you can't translate or doesn't list the ingredients. In Guatemala many untranslatable words are animal organs and some secret ingredients are feces (eg homemade alcoholic punches).Other inconveniences include brushing your teeth with purified water and washing your hands with purified water if you eat with them (kind of a pain in a country who has had a religious attachment to the tortilla for millenia).The nice thing is that all you have to do is boil your water for 5 mins you're fine.In the end when you follow every rule you might get sick and when you bend every rule you might not -- and in the end you bend every rule.

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