Well, in Paraguay, there is a much less rigid view on the the tolerable health of kids and adults alike. Lice is perhaps the least of one's worries. Heck, that's an easy fix- we just have hair washing days at school with anti-lice shampoo. Ringworm? Oh yeah, I've already had that twice and a little tube of cream does the trick. Parasites? Giardia? No biggie- only a week's worth of anti-parasitic pills. Worms? Knock them right out with some dried papaya seeds. Disease is such a common-place reality of life here, it is hard to find a disease that really gets people going. Ok, now that I've said that dengue comes to mind- but even the Vice President was diagnosed so I guess it can't be too bad, right?
I listened to a NPR broadcast the other day about the e. coli outbreak on pre-washed spinach a few years back, and they blamed it on animal access to the crops and lack of washing. By the way- we wash our spinach and lettuce in chlorine 3 times over before it makes it into a pre-wash bag where it is air-sealed and transported in refrigerated trucks to our grocery store. The spinach farmers felt obligated to apologize for the inability to stop crows flying overhead. Listening as I stared out to my backyard, I couldn't help but giggle a bit. My spinach comes right out of my garden where my neighbors chickens and my own cat are constantly running through and is washed in my well water in my questionably clean concrete sink. I don't feel obligated to say sorry even when I can't get all the dust out.
I remember when I first arrived in Paraguay, I was concerned about all the sharing of drinks, lack of water/soap for hand-washing, and cleanliness in general from the kitchen to the bathroom. Maybe I've been here too long now, but I'm not all that phased any more. In fact, I have somewhat begun to like the ease of which I can talk about illness and deal with it. Given that sickness is so common to all, I don't worry too much when I am sick. Of course, I treat it- but isn't that just a part of life? Sometimes I wish we could all see illness this way- we are human and are thus not invincible- but hey, we get better!