Traveling is the best experience to get a deeper understanding of the impact of culture and habits.
To hear, study, or see all the things people did while training in the gym or while working in the hospital is one thing, but to learn first hand the why’s of what makes people do certain things and what the impact of these habit have on their health is entirely different.
To actually travel through Africa and visit the formally nomadic tribes of the Masaai and Samburu and speak to and touch people that showed me life so far different than what I ever found in the North America. While it was amazing to see how these people survived on a diet that is nearly void of fresh water it also showed me how their bodies suffered despite them being able to endure these conditions far longer than any of us could. While I saw how living on a mixture of cows milk, urine and blood kept them alive, I also saw how breathing the smoke in their enclosed huts gave them blood shot eyes and asthmatic symptoms, how the lack of water dried their skin to leather, blocked their liver and kidney function and decreased all other organ function. Not exactly conditions to long for and it is no miracle that the death rate among people who are dehydrated and breath smoke at this level is quite high. Life expectancy is still lower than ours…
The dry lands makes it difficult to grow their own crops and when they do only the elephants come and eat them. The Maasai and Samburu still use the spears to kill their prey of wild pig, fowl or impala. They risk their lives at times to get water from the rivers infested with crocodiles. They boil their water under a handmade fire which is a process in itself. Making their hands raw due to the rubbing of the stick inbetween their hands. It took about eight to ten minutes to make a fire. Nights can be windy and depending on the time of year the Monsoon brings lots of rain and therefore fires are put into their huts to keep them warm but also to keep the fire going.
One night of this is all I could handle. Luckily, the Serena Hotels had assortments of foods that can tempt anyones palates even the healthiest.
Conclusion: Despite the lack of such extremes in our culture there are some lessons to be learned:
Do not dehydrate, drink filtered or distilled water and make sure to breath clean air and stay out of the sun after an hour of full blown exposure per day…unless you don’t mind wrinkles, or worse. Wash you hands regularly and do not touch your face if you want to avoid infections like the flu.