Africa: 0, South America: 1, Central America: 0, USA: 0, SE Asia, Nepal, and India: 5. That is the score of my illnesses (not my illness – which is untouchable) while traveling, so I can pretty well say that Asia is by far and away in the lead with me getting sick. And by sick I mean traveler's sickness…..you know the one where you don't want me to write all the details but it involves lots of trips to the toilet, usually you would mention Montezuma but in this case he stayed out of it. The worst part about it is the food here is so good, I mean the other continents were great but the food here is so unique over such short distances or even within a country. For example, in India the south loves rice dishes and coconut, in the north rice is seen as sort of filler, everything is bread based and in a rich gravy. Furthermore, in India there are all sorts of restrictions due to castes and religion; no pork, no beef, no garlic and onions (that one is real), no eggs, vegetarian, pure vegetarian, and I presume more. These restrictions actually just add to the diversity of the cuisine as people still have to make really tasty things without things like garlic! But as usual I break from the point.
As you know about myself and Lu; we like food, and our plan with Asia was to eat our way across the continent leaving a trail of decimated phos, spring rolls, cau laus, hot pots, cold coffees, coconut curries, sticky rice, masala dosas, dum aloos, momos, and kaju curries. However it seems like once every two weeks one of us was lay-ed out on a hammock. Now I understand why antibiotics are sold just over the counter here…. And for like 50 cents.
It's in times like these though that we are all at our weakest and those are usually the times that I am longing for a place to stay, so we can cook our own food, clean our own veggies (I miss fresh vegetables so much, the highly-carnivorous me from circa 2007 couldn't imagine that), add our own oil, clean our hands before touching the food, clean the counters before the food…..the list goes on.
On one hand getting sick is part of travel but on the other it just pisses us off because it takes away from one of our main joys of travel. We are supposed to have travelers' 'street cred' with all the street meals we have eaten throughout the world, but it feels like we have finally started to go soft. When we are in India and I ask 'just toast and plain omlette' – which totally disappoints all the wait staff – it feels like I'm chickening out or just giving up our Indian dream. But, since we do not live here I suppose we have to suck it up as everyone who does live here must go through some of the same struggles daily. But also it makes us wonder about how it is living here, is this just a monthly annoyance, or couple of times a year annoyance?
This brings me more towards what has been looming in the not to distant future now. We are getting closer to the end and maybe it's just the sickness talking or maybe it's the grouchy old men in me (there are two, actually, Statler & Waldorf) but slowly the trip is getting under my skin. The past few times of getting sick has made me a bit grouchy and short with everyday traveler problems (also I should note that most people on the streets around the world are just trying to get by and are not bad people), but the rickshaw drivers that always overcharge are doing that because that's just what they do, the food here just makes you sick sometimes, the train sometimes just stops for an hour for no known reason….these are things that happen on the road, but maybe when they start to add up and start to actually get to us then we start to realize it's nearly time. Fortunately there is hope on the horizon, new countries, new friends, visits from old friends, and then the NEW adventure. AND PLEASE HEALTH FROM NOW ON. PLEASE ASIA, YOU WON.
Note: As you see I mention India a lot, India alone might take like 8 blog post attempts to try to get it all down and all correct.