Friday, December 24, 2010


Something I have noticed in my travels is that people from other cultures have different ideas about what makes you sick.  In Korea, my friends who teach English say that the school administrators and other teachers leave all of the windows open in every classroom throughout winter.  Everyone just wears their winter coats to school.  This is so they won't get sick.  Because everybody knows that you must have fresh air in order to stay healthy.

Here in Panama, a couple friends went to a fiesta and danced the salsa all night long.  Of course their T-shirts got very sweaty.  When they went to leave, the hosts of the fiesta wouldn't let them unless they changed their shirts, because everybody knows if you go outside with a sweaty shirt you will get sick.

Even the famous surfer told us that we couldn't use the air conditioner in the car immediately after surfing because if we did, our face would go numb on one side, like a stroke victim.

And so I had to marvel at what happened to me yesterday.  In Panama, it is customary to greet people (male and female) this way:  reach out your right hand as if to shake hands, but instead, pull the person close and kiss their right cheek.  Last night a woman came up to me, moved her snot-rag from her right hand to the left, grabbed my hand and kissed me and then said, "oh, I'm SO sick."

I think there may be some sort of misunderstanding.
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