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Going Solo Tales


Mind Over Matter

T ravelers face a multitude of health hazards. Even during those seemingly peaceful hours we pass on planes, trains, ships or buses our bodies are under siege by alien flu bugs brought on board and coughed into the air cir- culation system by other passengers and staff. Flu bugs are nothing com- pared to the maladies that threaten us in distant lands. From amoebas to tse tse flies, travelers are susceptible to a formidable army of germs, viruses, bac-

teria, insects and assorted poisonous plants and reptiles.

If you think much about the awful possibilities, you have to wonder how anyone ever gets past the stage of armchair traveler and out into the wonderful but insecure world. Of course, the answer is that determined travelers don’t think too much about all the afflictions that might befall. In fact, we know the chances are good that most undesirable invaders can be handled by one’s own internal defense system and by taking certain precautionary measures. We get the proper inoculations, take care what we

eat and drink, wear sun screen, practice safe sex and use common sense. Don’t we?

I recall in Australia, reading a sign that said, “Your first encounter with a Sea Wasp will be your last.” In Zimbabwe I read, “Beware of Bilharzia.” Both signs meant stay out of the water, so I did. But I have to admit that traveling brings about predicaments and circumstances that defy common sense strategies.

In Bangkok, for example, I could not resist the charm of two youths who invited me on a short expedition down the Chao Phraya River to visit a family



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