Project Sekong 2013: Two Rules To Follow Here If You Want To Stay Healthy

March 26, 2013

To remain healthy here I stick to some unwavering standards. The most important self-imposed rule is to never drink questionable water. I used to raise sheep and one thing you’ve got to admire about sheep is their demand for wholesome water. A sheep will die of thirst standing next to a pail of dirty water. When it comes to water I’m proud to say I’m a bit sheepish. I don’t drink water unless I’ve opened the bottle myself, or watched the kettle come to a boil. (I guard the kettle myself because I’ve seen well-meaning hands top off a pot of boiled drinking water with river water).

Another rule that has served me well is that here, in a village with no refrigeration: only eat small animals. Our guys will buy an enticing chicken, duck or turkey whenever an opportunity presents itself. Then, they’ll tether the animal to a tent peg until the day that it’s needed in the cooking pot. That meat will be fresh and wholesome—from death to dinner in less than an hour with no leftovers to worry about.

Big animals? Big difference. Yes. It takes a village to raise a child. But it may take two villages to devour a water buffalo. (Those suckers can weigh two thousand pounds!) Families invite friends and neighbors to join them in eating what best be eaten immediately. Then, cooks will boil leftover chunks repeatedly until, days later, the last of the carcass is finally consumed. If the weather is cooperative, people will preserve some portions for later use by salting, smoking, or drying them in the sun. But, often the places where those pieces languish until consumed are not sanitary.

Pictured above are two enterprising young trappers who supply our camp with small game: mostly squirrels and bamboo rats. Small rodents don’t offer much meat but they conform to my standard: eaten fresh and consumed entirely. If you’re a confirmed carnivore, like me, better fresh squirrel than leftover, thrice boiled buffalo.

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