I went to get my Typhoid vaccination today. I thought it was good for 5 years (so I was only "expired" a year). Turns out it's only good for 2 years, so I've been unprotected for 5 years! Oops. Add that to the fact that I haven't taken anti-malarial drugs for the great majority of my trips to Ghana, and I went in this morning feeling pretty protected by The Big Guy. But then to hear the international travel nurse speak, you'd think it was a wonder I was alive!
This nurse went on for 15 minutes about all of the don'ts of international travel to Africa. My word! Seriously. I don't think I even take a quarter of the preventions she said. Maybe I did when I first started traveling. I don't INTEND to live dangerously or anything, but once you're outside of the capitol city you can't always avoid the no-nos for the CDC.
- No swimming in ANY pool because you don't know if it's chlorinated properly.
- No walking barefoot--ever--even if you're rude to keep shoes on in somebody's house.
- No eating fruits or veggies that don't have a thick skin. [Sorry, I just love my apples.]
- NO street food. [What?! That's the best part of Ghanaian food!]
- No ice, no matter what, even if they say it's safe. [I'm sorry, but there IS some "safe" ice in Ghana, and when I'm at a place that's "safe" I'm taking advantage of the ice!]
- [New one...] No soda from bottles, because they may have reused the bottle and not properly resealed it.
- No getting water in your mouth when your shower (true) but also not your nose, or eyes. They are doors for bacteria just like your mouth. [That's a tall order not to get water in your eyes when you're showering!]
- Wash your hands with hand sanitizer AFTER washing with soap and water because the water is "dirty" and/or the hand towel was washed in dirty water. [Can you say "overkill?!]
- Wash down your airplane seat with a wipe because reportedly they aren't sanitizing between flights anymore.
- Don't eat any food that isn't cooked fresh and served hot where you can see it being made. [I think I shall starve whilst in Ghana.]
- Assume every animal in Ghana could have rabies.
- Re-apply DEET insect repellant ever 2-4 hours, HEAD TO TOE. [That might be a tad inconvenient while in the taxi or at the market!]
There was more, but you get the ideas. How do we travelers make it through our trips? It's a miracle we're still alive! LOL! I don't want to try to get myself in trouble, but I also don't want to live in a bubble when I have the chance to experience a wondrous place in the world. I've eaten fried goat cheese, chicken at midnight that was sitting out all day, spicy peanut butter balls (my term), ice cream in a plastic bag, cow skin soup, and other things the CDC would tell me never to eat. I would have missed out on a lot of life if I lived it completely within the "recommendations."