Home > 2011 Posts > Your Hands Are the Enemy!

Your Hands Are the Enemy!

Anastasia had just come home to the medieval Italian hill town of Soriano nel Cimino. After three years in equatorial Africa as an aid volunteer, she now worked at the delightful, 650 year old Palazzo Catalani, where my wife and I were staying.

Palazzo Catalani from the Castle Parapet

We talked a lot with Anastasia about her work and conditions in the third world. Based on many friends’ experiences, we had concerns about the potential for ugly, hygiene-related illnesses, with chronic dysentery being the least on our list. But Anastasia said that she had not been sick even once during her time in the poorest parts of Africa.

I said, “Amazing! No one I know has ever spent that long in those conditions and stayed healthy. How did you manage?”

Anastasia & My Wife in Vitorchiano

Anastasia told us that just before she left Italy, a Swedish friend with lots of experience in Africa had advised her, “We all know about clean, cooked food. The other part of staying healthy is simple. Always treat your hands as the enemy. Never let them near your face. Ever.”

Anastasia said that she had practiced every minute after that. The mantra of ‘Enemy Hands’ was always in the front of her mind. And it worked.

So, ever since I learned this from Anastasia, I’ve tried to do the same under similar conditions. Sadly, even after years of working at it, I inevitably catch myself in the midst of rubbing a tired eye, or scratching an itchy ear or touching something I’m about to put in my mouth. Anastasia is much more self-disciplined than am I. Hooray for her! Lameness, rushing to the lavatory and über doses of fungicide for me.

Major Suckitude!

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