The folks at MSR asked me to write a short tale for one of their catalogs and I obliged. Although I couldn't find anything entertaining to say about their stoves (none had ever let me down or even provided a "memorable" experience) I had begun using water filters recently and been through a batch of other brands before finding one to rely on. Until then, it was all chemicals all of the time to treat the water and I was paying the price.
I never had the nerve to drink from the river below the temple where Hindus burn their dead in Kathmandu. At the time I used iodine to purify any suspect water so I avoided any which might be “crunchy”. But as technology progressed I tended towards filters for purification and became quite brash in my selection of water sources because of them. I have gotten away with murder (the justifiable homicide of parasites). The MSR Mini-Works is my current weapon of choice.
I was not always this smart. On my first trip to Nepal I was attacked by amoebas. Not like the Blob in that old Sci-Fi movie, but some invisible, nasty little weight loss machines who gave me dysentery such as I have not experienced since. In Kathmandu I drank only bottled water or beer, ate well-cooked meat, and vegetables washed with iodine. But I got something off a plate somewhere and it hit me in Lukla while we were packing loads for the approach. Feeling nauseated, I leaned over a low stone wall to throw up. I tried to be casual about it but the diarrhea hit me at the same time. My Patagonia Baggy Pants could not conceal my loss of control. The porters laughed long and hard at my predicament. I spent the next three days in a Tea House hovering between feverish sweats and chills my -35 degree sleeping bag could not stave off. Unable to counter-attack on my own, I took a drug which worked like an intestinal wire brush. It killed everything in its path.
Over the years I have taken many doses of Flagyl and other equally powerful anti-parasitic drugs. The downside is a permanent inability to digest vegetables. The upside is that the “invisible hand” which stops so many climbing expeditions to the Andes and Himalaya has only kept me from fulfilling my goals once out of nine trips abroad. I figure that’s a good ratio. I also figure that if I’d been born into this decade when water filters are the norm, I’d still be able to enjoy the benefits of a good Caesar Salad.