Saturday, March 28, 2009

The Audacity (and Resilience) of Kenya's Hope

This is my final post about my time in Kenya...

It's easy to lose hope in Kenya. There are so many deep-seeded problems that if feels like any form of aid or relief work is an exercise in futility. The government is full of officials that seek power, not to serve their people but to line their pockets. And to obtain these positions of power, leaders divide the country along tribal lines, inciting violence and displacement. Religious/political groups (like the Mungiki) whose original purpose was to curb modernization for fear of Kenya losing its culture and identity--a noble cause, I find--are now organized crime groups that extort businesses of their money and lead violent protests. Hoping to curb this group's power, the police has formed a "death squad" that takes suspected members of the Mungiki to the Ngong Hills to be executed without trying them in court first.

Add to this the natural crises occurring in the country: about 30% of adults are HIV+, malaria is rampant, and children are dying of preventable and curable diseases. And then there's the drought that in some places has been going on for more than a year and shows no sign of stopping. (If you need proof that global warming exists, just come to Northern or Southern Kenya. The rains used to come like clockwork, but not anymore.) The Maasai and Samburu are probably those hurt the most because they tend to live in dry, rural areas and because their livestock is their livelihood. But the cattle have no grass to feed on, and they are slowly dying. If the cows and goats are starving and dying, then the Maasai and Samburu themselves aren't too far behind. Rising food prices don't help the situation.

So you see, Kenya's got issues. I ask myself often how Mike and the other ICROSS staff don't burn out and just give up. How do they keep going when things seem to be getting worse and worse? But then the real question is: what other option do they have? For them, all of these issues in Kenya are motivations to keep at it, to keep trying, to keep helping one person at a time. They are the David to Kenya's Goliath. They'll never be able to eradicate suffering and starvation in one fell swoop, one well-placed hit. But they can chip away at them slowly but surely, one HIV/AIDS patient, one sick mother, one starving child at a time.

And it's not just the ICROSS folks with this audacious and resilient hope. It's most Kenyans. Unlike Americans, Kenyans know what it means to be grateful for what you have and, more importantly, what it means to be content. Yes, things are hard now, but most Kenyans are still aware of the many blessings in their lives. And many, many Kenyans have such a beautiful, tremendous faith that God is with them. His eye is on the sparrow, after all. I talked to Rose, the nurse in Sinkiraine (one of the driest and hottest places in Kenya) about this, and she said, "What else can you do? You just have to keep smiling and trust that God will provide."

I completely understand atheism. How could a god let children suffer needlessly? But I don't think God just sits back letting bad things happen. We have an active God, not just an observant one. He's in the grandmother caring for her starving grandson. He's in Rose, Ebisiba, and Pamela, who care for their sick neighbors simply because that's the right thing to do. God's in ICROSS. God's in the American, British, and Irish donors that contribute to ICROSS, making their work possible. When people suffer, it's not God's fault for letting it happen. It's our fault for not doing anything about it. And even when we fail to act, I still don't think that that's the end of the story. God continues to be with the suffering in small, sometimes imperceptible ways. No one is alone, truly. And that's something to put your hope in.

Prayer for Kenya: Psalm 20:1-5
"In times of trouble, may he Lord respond to your cry.
May the God of Israel keep you safe from all harm.
May he send you help from his sanctuary
and strengthen you from Jerusalem.
May he remember all your gifts
and look favorably on your burnt offerings.
May he grant your heart's desire
and fulfill all your plans.
May we shout for joy when we hear of your victory
flying banners to honor our God.
May the Lord answer all your prayers."

If you want to see all the wonderful things ICROSS is doing, skim through the 2008 Annual Report (I helped proofread it). If you feel so led, you can donate to ICROSS through NWI Kenya, and you can actually designate what your money will go to (e.g., a cow, a pig named after an ex!, a womens support group, etc.). Contributions are really important right now because the drought is ravaging the country and ICROSS' funds are down because of the economic crisis. And what's so wonderful and unique about ICROSS is that--except for Mike, the founder and international director--it's run almost entirely by Kenyans working together to solve Kenya's problems.

Sinkiraine, Part 2: I Am the Luckiest

On a more positive note, while I was in Sinkiraine, I spent quite a bit of time with a Maasai guy named Nixon. He gave me a maasai name, which I still can't quite pronounce: Olamunyak. It sounds like a mix of "almanac" and some name you'd hear on Star Trek. Nevertheless, it was really sweet for him to give me a name, particularly because "Olamunyak" means "the luckiest person." Not that I am already very lucky but that I will be with this name. But I actually do feel like the name already applies to me.

I've met so many wonderful people over the past six weeks. I've learned so much and seen so much. Every moment has been a gift. I've just been so lucky--or is it blessed?--during this leg of the trip. Blessed to have visited the projects I did, to have survived the illnesses I had, and to have spent time with the people I met. And the circumstances surrounding my first contact with IROSS in 2005 were pretty providential as well. (Getting Miek's e-mail address through a friend of a friend and then meeting Mike for lunch at Duke, where he just happened to be for a conference. Crazy.)

I am blessed/lucky/fortunate/whatever to have ICROSS in my life. Olamunyak indeed.

PS- Nixon also told me that he'd give me a goat the next time I came to Sinkiraine. Um, thanks?

Sinkiraine, Part 1: The Hardest Part

I spent my last week in Sinkiraine, another Maasai village where ICROSS has set up a clinic. I stayed with the clinic's two nurses, Rose and William, who are married. I was only with them for four days, but I wish I could have stayed there longer. They were both really lovely people, and I loved being around Rose because she actually spoke and told stories! The other two Maasai women I stayed with were pretty quiet and kept to their "duties" of cooking, washing clothes, watching the children, etc. But Rose was different, and that's probably because she's not Maasai herself. She still has those same responsibilities, but she (not her husband) is the head nurse at the clinic. I felt there was a more equal relationship between William and Rose, which was refreshing to see.

Yet despite the "fresh air" that was Rose and William, my time in Sinkiraine was probably the hardest part of my time in Kenya. There's a drought all over Kenya (the past couple of rainy seasons haven't been rainy enough, thanks to global warming), but it's probably the worst in Sinkiraine. It's so unbelievably dry and hot there. It's so hot that everyone stays indoors and rests during the early afternoon. Grass and plants don't grow, which means that the Maasai people's livestock are starving (I've never seen skinnier cows) and even dying. If the cattle are bone-thin or dead, there goes the Maasai's source of income. And to make matters worse, there's no water in Sinkiraine. They either have to walk 30 km one way to a borehole, or they take the train 55 km to Magadi to fill up 10 or 15 20-L jugs with water. It's awful. The animals are dying, which means that there's no money for food, which is exacerbated by the fact that food prices are really high right now. When that happens, people starve.

I saw a lot of kids with rickets, a condition where children's leg bones are so weak that they bow out due to a deficiency of vitamin D and calcium. It doesn't cause any pain, which is good and bad. It's good in that the children aren't hurting, but it's bad in that it might not be noticed, and if it is, it's just chalked up to the child being born that way. Luckily, ICROSS has given the clinic nutritional supplements for the children, but there are some kids whose rickets are so bad that they need braces and even surgery to correct the problem. But without healthy livestock (i.e., money), how will the family pay for that?

The most heartbreaking patient I encountered was David. David is almost 4-years-old, and he only weighs 8 kg. A healthy 4-year-old weighs 16 kg. David weighs as much as Rose's 5-month-old baby girl, and he's almost four! David's parents live in Tanzania, so he's raised by his grandmother, but she doesn't have any money for food thanks to the drought, so she and her grandson are starving.

David had nothing. He was wearing only a dirty t-shirt that said "C'est tout moi" ("That's all me" in French). Literally, you could see all of him. He was so unbelievably thin that his bones and ribs were clearly visible. But the most devastating thing about David was that he had no affect. He wasn't happy for sure, but he wasn't sad either. He wasn't anything. His eyes looked like the life had been drained out of him. He looked tired from being so incredibly hungry. The children with rickets were suffering, too, but they still had energy and smiles on their faces. Not David.

Rose gave him some supplements to take, but what he really needed was food. I gave his grandmother 50 Kenyan shillings (about 63 cents), which is all I had, for beans. But that won't last very long. ICROSS will be bringing enriched porridge (the best stuff for malnourished children) next week, but how long will that last if this drought keeps going? And it doesn't look like this upcoming rainy season is going to be enough.

So what do you do with something like this? Do you pray? Or do you blame God for letting this happen? Or maybe both. But the only two true responses to seeing someone like David is to do something or to do nothing. Blaming God won't change anything. As hard as it was, my few minutes with David were really important for me. I now know that I will never be satisfied or content working in a hospital in the States, where everyone can get food or health care, whether that's provided by one's salary or by government assistance. But like most developing countries, there is no welfare system in Kenya. If you don't have any income, you don't have food. If you don't have food, you starve and die. No matter what career path I take, I have to be doing something that serves the world's poorest. How can I ever feel fulfilled or comfortable with my work and life if there are Davids out there slowly starving to death? It just wouldn't be right. More on this later...

I hate that I feel at home at a supermarket

I got a beef with the wizungu ("white people" in Swahili, plural of "mzungu"). The country used to be a British colony, and though Kenya became an independent country in 1963, it doesn't feel like British imperialism is over. But instead of it being a political iimperialism, it's now more of a corporate and economic one. I feel like wizungu are here--and have always been here--to plunder Kenya of its wealth. And to be fair, it's not just the British. There are people here from all over Euope and North America (except Mexico...I think finding a Latino in Kenya is like finding a unicorn.)

But what really gets me, and this might be a bit presumptuous on my part, is my suspicion that a lot of the wizungu hate Kenya. Many of them live in big Western-style houses, watch only Western satellite TV, eat only Western foods, and shop only at the big Westerner-targeted supermarket (Nakumatt). It's as if they don't want to be here in Kenya at all. They have transported their Western lives to Kenya, creating this perfect bubble that they never have to leave. The best illustration of this is a conversation I overheard between a British woman and a younger Kenyan man who was presumable her potential house cleaner. She told him, "and I cannot stand the sight of dust. So don't let any dust get in the house." WHAT?! That's all Kenya is! Dust, dust, and more dust! If she hates dust, she hates Kenya.

Clearly, I'm different. I love Kenya. I serve the poor; I don't use them for money or any other self-serving purpose. But is that really true? I think I got so upset by the wizungu in Kenya because I'm just as guilty. I'm angry with myself. I resent the fact that I feel most at home at Nakumatt, the big Western supermarket chain. I hate that I daydream so much about the food I'm going to eat when I get back to the States, and I must admit that I've given in and have eaten at both the burger chain and the Mexican food chain. I'm angry that I sometimes need to sit down and watch an American TV show or movie. (Kenyan TV is pure crap.) I hate that I get so frustrated and imptient with the inefficiency and tardiness of Kenyans. This is Africa, after all! (Not America.) And worst of all, I suspect that I also use Kenyans for selfish reasons. Not for money, but I'll take picture of people without asking sometimes, or maybe I'll use them for a story or blog entry that coiuld win me admiration from my family and friends. (I'm not trying to do that now.) I didn't come to Kenya or ICROSS for self-serving reasons, but in any act of kindness, there's always that voice (that "little dude") that asks, "Now what can I get from this?"

Maybe I'm being too hard on myself and on the other wizungu in Kenya. I shouldn't forget that wizungu have done a lot of good in Kenya (humanitarian aid, tourism, etc.). And we shouldn't have to totally abandon our culture and lifestyle when we're here. But whether we want to admit it or not, we all kinda hate the dust... At times, we all hate Kenya.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Ategelua Barack Obama

("I voted for Barack Obama" in Kimaasai)

When I'm traveling, I usually don't tell people where I'm from unless I'm asked. But in Kenya, I'm VERY proud to be an American. (I don't think I've ever told so many people who I've voted for!) In case you didn't know, President Obama's father is Kenyan, from the Luo tribe in Kisumu. Everyone in Kenya LOVES Obama. When I was here in 2006, Obama was here, too, visiting the country for the first time. Even then, Maasai men living in cow-dung huts were asking me about him and wondering if I would vote for him. I didn't know much about him at the time, but I said I'd vote for him, and I kept my word.

So now when I tell Kenyans that I'm from the States, they almost always make some coment about our President. When I was in Kisii, I attended an HIV/AIDS seminar for high school students. I was asked to introduce myself, so I told them my name and my nationality and said that I voted for Obama. I got a very warm response from the crowd. (Many fo the studnets wanted their picture taken with me, and that might have been part of the reason.)

I've beent old that the entire country stayed up to hear the elction results (they're 8 hours ahead of EST) and that the government declared the following day a national holiday. No joke. And I've been in several rural huts with Barack Obama posters and calendars on their walls. He's a rock star.

Kisii, Part 4: I've never eaten milk before...

During one of my days in Kisii, we had lunch at Pamela's house (she's one of the CHWs). I was tired and hungry from riding the bike and visiting HIV/AIDS patients, so the meal of beans, greens, and ugali (corn flour + water = white, mealy brick) tasted really good. And then Pamela poured us a drink. I could see from the pitcher that it was milk. I assumed it was straight from the udder, which I had gotten used to in Maasai land. But when Pamela poured the milk and it hit the bottom of the glass, it made a "plop." Uh oh.

I think the look of horror on my face was so clear that Malloy and Pamela immediately explaiend to me what it was...sour milk. Milk is boiled until it's sour, bottled, sold, and then mixed with fresh milk to make this "delicious" concoction. The chunks produced are not filtered out at any point in this process. I'll try anything once, so I took a sip. The taste actually wasn't too awful (just like sour cream). The real issue was the consistency. Sipping this sour milk is impossible because it's all chunks. You don't really drink it: you eat it. You pour it in your mouth and chew.

Needless to say, I struggled with it. I tried to just sip it, but a few chunks of milk would slip their way into my mouth. So I just focused on eating instead. Noticing that I hadn't made much of a denty in my glass of sour milk, Pamela offered me another drink: pineapple juice. But this was no ordinary juice. Pamela mixed a bottle of pineapple concentrate with some water. Where this water came from, I don't know, but it was pretty safe to assume that it didn't come from a bottle at the grocery store. And Pamela offered me the pineapple drink in such a way that I had to choose either the juice made from questionable water or the sour milk filled with questionable chunks. I was faced with quite the conundrum: do I choose the chunky drink that will probably make me throw up? Or do I choose the drink with unfamiliar African bacteria that will probably give me diarrhea? (FYI: I had an hour-long, pothole-filled ride on the motorbike to look forward to.) I chose the latter, and it was delicious. However, I did have some loose stools the next morning, but thankfully that was it.

But then on my last morning in Kisii, I had some bad fruit salad. I'm not really blameless in the matter because I noticed that it didn't taste very good, but I ate the whole thing anyways. Well, bad fruit salad and a five-and-a-half-hour ride in the back of a matatu don't mix. (Matatus are privately ownded 11- to 14-passenger vans. They are the only means of "public" transportation.) I felt nauseous the entire trip. I had no appetite, and I thought I was going to throw up until finally I did... We were in the Nairobi city center, no more than 10 minutes away from our destination when a large amount of saliva suddenly flowed into my mouth. I tried to fight it by swallowing, but you know at that point, it's too late. Fearing the worst, I opened the window and then...fruit salad out the side of the matatu. Four times.

(Medical sidenote: When I got back to the ICROSS base, Mike had me swallow a raw egg. He said that vomiting is caused by an irritation int he lining of your upper digestive tract. The egg coats the membrane of the tract, making it impossible to throw up. But there's always the chance of getting salmonella...)

Kisii, Part 3: I want to hold your hand, man

Kenyan men are very physically affectionate with one another, especially outside of the big cities like Nairobi. I especially noticed in in Kisii, and it always caught me off guard. I saw so many males wlking down the street holding each other's hands--boys, older men, and macho-looking twentysomethings. I also witnessed two secondary school teenage boys sitting with the smaller boy leaning into the larger one while the latter had his arm around the former. (Does that make sense?) And most bizarre of all--for an American--was seeing straight (inebriated) Kenyan men dancing together at a club. This wan't men dancing near each other, checking out the ladies. These were men dancing WITH each other, holding hands, looking into each other's eyes, and making smooth hip and pelvis motions that American men would reserve for a woman. It was so unusual to me that I was mesmerized...

I also experienced this male touch firsthand. Malloy, the ICROSS guy in Kisii, often would take me by the hand when he was showing me around. I never knew how to respond. Do I grab back? Or do I leave my hand limp? I tried to do something in between. Not too hard. Not too soft. Just right.

What makes all this so interesting is the fact that Kenya is so extremely homophobic. A couple of weeks ago, there was a motion in the Parliament to outlaw homosexuality! Yet there's so much physical intimacy between men. Why? The only explanation I can come up with is that homosexuality is so far removed from daily thought that non one would think that two men hodling hands is "gay." It's as if there's this common societal belief that everyone is born straight and some random people in the cities choose to be gay. That's probably why I haven't noticed the hand-holding as much in Nairobi.

Kisii, Part 2: Honestly, who steals a mosquito net?

The "roads" are so bad in the small villages outside of Ksii that the only way to visit HIV/AIDS patients in the field is to go by motorbike (i.e., dirtbike). So I spent several hours on the back of a motorbike. It was usually a lot of fun because the Kisii landscape is made of hills and hills covered with green grass, green trees, green maize, and, most beautiful of all, green tree bushes. The tea leaves are a dark green near the ground, but on top the leaves are this beautiful, luminescent yellow-green. It's stunning. But the bike rides were also quite painful and terrifying at times...

One day, Malloy and I were driving on the motorbike to visit some patients when we turned a corner and the car ahead of us was stopped and surrounded by a group of 20 or so men. Going too fast to stop, we couldn't pass them on the right (people drive on the left in Kenya, a former British colony) because a car was coming in the opposite direction. So Malloy had to try to pass the car on the left through the crowd of men, but the men didn't move, and we basically ploughed into them. Even though the bike's handlebar left a HUGE scratch on the car, I'm sure the driver was thankful we arrived. Apparently, the men had been trying to mug the car (!), demanding--unsuccessfully--that the driver roll down the windows. Fortunately for the car (and unfortunately for us), we created the diversion it needed to drive away unmugged.

Now we were the mob's center of attention. All of the sudden, men were pushing me and pling at my helmet and backpack. But I didn't feel anything because my helmet was on tight, the hip belt on my backpack was clasped around me, and I had a down coat on to shield me from the dust (and apparently an angry mob's blows). And the bike was so full of mosquito nets and boxes of rice and beans that I couldn't have gotten off the bike even if I had wanted to. With Malloy and I impenetrable to the crowd, the men went after the nets and food instead. But again, the food was so tightly packed that they couldn't open the boxes. They demanded to know what was inside. Malloy took his helmet off--a big gesture--and explained to them in Kisii--another big gesture--that we were carrying nets and food to HIV/AIDS patients. They then asked what the mzungu ("white guy") was doing, and Malloy told them I was there to help and to learn.

They really appreciated Malloy stopping and giving them the respect to talk to them. Next thing I know, they're patting us on the shoulder, packing mosquito nets back on to the bike, and helping Malloy put his helmet back on. O fcourse, I had no idea what was going on. Men were shoving me and then 60 seconds later, they were patting me on the back and saying "pole" ("sorry"). It all happened so fast.

Thanks to Malloy's smooth talking, we drove off unscathed, losing only one mosquito net from the whole ordeal. Meanwhile, I was left asking myself, "Did that just happen?"

Kisii, Part 1: "You can't break my heart..."

"...It's liquid. It melted when I met you." -Flight of the Conchords

After a week at the ICROSS base in Nairobi, I spent 6 days in Kisii, a largish town about 5 hours to the west. I spent the majority of my tiem in Kisii visiting HIV/AIDS patients, about fifteen in total between the ages of 3 and 60. The majority of them live in circular mud huts with a pointed straw roof, completely bare save a table, some chairs, and a mattress or two. Each patient is looked after by a volunteer community health worker (or CHW) that is trained by ICROSS. The CHW visits each patient (up to 28 per CHW), gets them meds and other available aid from the ICROSS office, and leads HIV/AIDS support groups. And they do all of this unpain, from the goodness of their heart. They are saints. So Malloy (one of the ICROSS Kisii people) and I accompanied some of the CHWs to the homes of their patients that were suffering the most. We checked up on them, monitored their medications, and gave them food and mosquito nets.

Talk about poverty. The patients we visisted were all bed-ridden and unable to work, and oftentimes their spouses (if they had not already died of AIDS or abandoned their sick husband or wife) had to stay home and assume the role of caregiver and could not work either. Where are they supposed to get money for food for themselves, for their children, and for any orphans they're looking after? Unfortunately, ICROSS doesn't have very many funds at present because of the economic crisis and because the Kenyan Ministry of Health "misplaced" (aka stole) money from the Global Fund meant to support organizations like ICROSS.

The outlook is pretty bleak, and some of the patients reflectesd that. Isaac fels to stigmatized that he'll only meet with Olpha (his CHW) in secret. Robert refuses to take ARVs (antiretrovirals, or HIV drugs) anymore because he's lost hope that they'll work. But then you meet people like Henry and Rodha, whose warmth, hsopitality, and hope are palpable. And it's not as if they have it easier than the other patients. Henry is HIV+ with cancer-related problems, and Rodha is HIV+ and also suffers from TB and diabetes. Both have extremely swollen legs and feet, the pain of which prevents them from walking very far from home. I think for many of the patients, ICROSS (particularly the CHWs) is hope realized, and that happens through medical suport, free drugs, blankets, the support groups, and lots of love.

But the patient that truly made my heart melt was Alice. Alice is 26 with 2 children and after having an HIV-related stroke, she is now mentally disabled. When I met her, she was sitting on a blanket outside, laughing, smiling, and occasionally drooling. It brougth me right back to L'Arche! Every time she saw me smiling at her, her face would light up, and she'd smile right back. But all was not well. The two older adults (her parents?) caring for her didn't understand her disability. They didn't know how to support her (they asked if she could take a pill for her drooling), and it was obvious that they saw Ali9ce's disabiltiy as something to be feared, as evidenced by Alice's younger daughter. We wanted to get a picture of Alice and her family, so Alice's sister went to go fetch Alice's children. But the youngest didn't come willing. The little girl (about 5 or 6) was screaming bloody murder and had to be dragged to stand next to Alice. She was terrified of her mother.

It was heartbreaking, but I was still so happy while I was with Alice and for a long time afterwards. It reminded me of the Ignatian idea that when you're discerning something, you should sit with each option for a while. If you receive life from it while you're thinking about it and if that joy stays with you afterwards, then that's the path you should take. So maybe the "working-with-people-with-disabilities" chapter of my life isn't over yet. Time will tell...

Monday, March 16, 2009

I'm not wearing green, but you can't pinch me...

Because I'm on a different continent. Ha!

Happy St. Patrick's Day! It's been a while since my last blog post. I spent last week in Kisii, visiting HIV/AIDS patients, and today I leave to spend a few more days with the Maasai before I leave Kenya on Sunday. I haven't had a chance to sit down and update my blog, but I will do so when I get back to Nairobi later this week.

A Kenyan with ICROSS asked me what St. Patrick's Day was. As I was explaining it, I realized what a weird holiday it is. Everyone has to wear green? And everyone drinks? That's basically it.

Thursday, March 5, 2009


For the past several days, I've been at the base in Nairobi. I haven't done too much, but it's okay because I have decided to stay in Kenya longer than I had originally planned. I will leave on March 22nd, not March 10th. And what's exciting is that I have an overnight layover in Doha, Qatar (on the Persian Gulf). I've never been to Asia before, so I'm looking forward to my 16 hours in the country. But I'm also excited to spend more time in Kenya. I think I'll be heading to the western part of the country very soon.

The President of the Royal College of Nurses (the nursing union of the UK...a HUGE deal) is currently visiting ICROSS. She's a lovely lady, but I must say that I have no idea what she's saying sometimes because she is Scottish, and her accent is so incredibly thick. I'm trying to think of a way I can get her to say, "Get in my belly!" Any ideas? (Me: "So, Maura...let's say that that potato on your plate could talk and told you it refused to be eaten. What would you say to the potato?")

She (Maura) and I visited a new clinic that's being built for a Maasai clan in southern Kenya. Maura had raised some money before she came, and she used that money to buy various medical supplies, like mosquito nets, stethoscopes, and many, many other things. She handed some of her goodies out during our visit, and she was a total rock star. She was given jewelry, and some people sang for her. I assumed the role of photographer/historian, and it was nice to mooch off her "fame." I got free lunch and another beaded bracelet. Score!

I think the only other thing to report is that my dysentery is over, but according to the doctor, I still have "a lot of bacteria" in my system. Awesome! Luckily, I don't feel too bad. I only have stomach pain (and the subsequent quick rush to the restroom) in the mornings, and I'm good for the rest of the day. I guess I'm just not used to the germs here. And even though I only drink bottled water, I still wash my hands, wash my dishes, and shower with the local water. I feel it's a lost cause...unless I decide to live in a bubble and roll everywhere in a big plastic ball (like a hamster). That could make my pilgrimage in Spain pretty interesting...