Stay Healthy!

One of our in-country staff had made the reservation for me. It was a new hotel whose tag line was “Stay Healthy!” I was somewhat excited about this prospect. A hotel with a gym facility certainly wouldn’t hurt me at this point in my trip.

As I was checking in, the desk attendant offered me a complimentary medical exam. It was part of the “Stay Healthy!” promotion — blood pressure, blood tests, lung capacity, etc. I respectfully declined. For the most part, I avoid needles. Getting blood drawn in a makeshift hotel room cum doctor’s office in Lusaka, Zambia, just didn’t appeal to me. She presented me with a sheet of paper. There was a lot of fine print and a place for my signature at the bottom.

“What’s this?” I asked.

“In our commitment to healthy living, we require all guests to sign a waiver stating they will not consume any alcohol or tobacco products during their stay here.”

I looked at her, expecting her to say, “Just kidding!” She didn’t.

“Please sign, ma’am.”

I knew most of the hotels were booked solid because of Laura Bush’s visit that week. I knew that I really enjoyed a glass of wine with dinner after a hard day’s work. I smiled and signed the waiver. I just traveled 25,000 miles to check myself into detox.

“We wish you a pleasant visit and stay healthy!” she proclaimed.

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