My first two weeks in Mauritius have been full of reality checks. The other fellows and I have been dealing with inefficient bureaucracy, electricity failures, persistent bedbugs, and catastrophic disappointments when a few of the centers we were supposed to be teaching at were revealed to be non-functional. Then, I was hit—literally, hit—with another dose of reality early Monday morning when I came down with an ugly bout of food poisoning. Apparently, even a person who is careful with food preparation to the point of neuroses can still miss a few errant bacteria that blossom into illness.
The experience was not fun. Even when my friends managed to get me from the bathroom and into bed I could barely move, and I didn’t really want to. Frankly, I was terrified of being sick while alone and far from home. I missed the familiar things, like chicken soup and watching Sex and the City three times over. I slept a lot and subsisted on bread and the Mauritian form of Gatorade.
I was still feeling weak from dehydration today when we decided to spend the day stealing a wifi connection from unsuspecting businesses in Port Louis. We parked the car a few miles from our destination and began to walk, picking through the crowded streets under the warming sun. I think the others picked up on how difficult it was for me to keep pace and shoulder my backpack. Without thinking twice, my friend Lincoln stopped me and insisted that he carry my things. The offer got me thinking about what it really means to support someone. The past fourteen days have not been smooth sailing, but the beauty of the people I work with is that they continue to function as a family no matter how agonizing the setbacks are. True support means we carry each other. Because, sometimes, the most helpful thing you can do is relieve a person of something heavy, be that a responsibility, a secret, or a backpack.