sickPain and sickness are two things that are really hard to fully understand unless you are experiencing them. This morning I woke up sick. For the majority of the last month, I’ve been sick. The sickness seems to morph from form to form – from diarrhea to vomiting to colds and flues, not to mention injuries and infection – the symptoms seem to constantly be changing form, but the raw sickness seems to be ever-present.

Back home, I rarely ever get sick. I can often feel it close by, but can generally hold it at bay. Here, it doesn’t bother knocking on the door. Just like its Indian hosts, it prances right in and makes itself at home.

Being sick is also bad because as much as that time could be used productively – to read or to write – too often the motivation to do anything beyond just survive dries up. I am writing this now, but just barely. Up until now, I have just been surviving.

It is during these times that I realize how critical it is that we avoid sickness during our trek. As ideal as it sounds – waking up sick, brushing it off and getting to work on the brutal summer days cleaning public toilets from the pit of Hell – it’s just not going to happen. Sickness has an agenda of its own. To ignore the call of the frail body to stop and mend is to set oneself up for serious degradation and even death.

Mark and I want to be purists. We’d like to drink the water we are given, eat the food we are offered – to be one with the people. But if we don’t stay well during this, we are going to be in deep trouble or it is going to come to a stop. Staying well, will likely require creating some kind of safe bubble from which to eat and drink. As much as I don’t want any bubbles, after a constant month of lessons, it is foolish not to acknowledge and respect my limitations.

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