Saturday, January 8, 2011

Thank you, Africa, for your many gifts

There was a computer game I used to play back on the Commodore 64 called Heart of Africa.  You played this pixellated adventurer who wandered across the entire continent through desert, oasis towns, tribal villages, and rain forests in search of a Pharaoh’s tomb, keeping a journal along the way of events that happened to you.  If you wandered too far from cities you inevitably died (yet still somehow recorded this fact in your journal).  And not your run-of-the-mill sort of death either; it had to be something exotic and horrible.  Starvation, eaten by a lion, jungle fever, army ants were all ways to kick the bucket.  Understandably, it led me to have a dire view of the African continent.

Now that I’m saddled with malaria for the second time in a couple of weeks I’m beginning to understand that it was all true: there are some truly unpleasant things you can catch here.  Seriously, take a second to read about this disease and it will scare the crap out of you; little six-cell parasites are camped in your liver and gobbling up your blood!  Your whole body aches—it hurts to breathe, laugh, or burp.  You burn with fever and feel cold despite being in the middle of a desert.  You’re too tired to do anything except sweat in bed under a mosquito net.  Lonely Planet says that 10% of people who contract the disease die from it and, despite realizing that these are probably people who don’t have access to decent medical care, I’m quietly convinced that I will have a new mutated version and they’ll airlift me back to the States where the doctor (who is Rene Russo) tells me from behind a plastic wall that there’s nothing she can do. 

Anyway, we’ve had to separate from the African Trails tour to spend some time at a hospital in Sevare and have packed up all our belongings.  The truck is going to spend a whopping two days in Burkina Faso and then drive straight down to the Ghanan coast to chill on beaches for two weeks.  Wondering again why we’ve paid these jokers so much money to show us “real” Africa, there’s a fair chance that we won’t even bother to catch up with them again.
Goodbye truck.  Oh, how we'll miss you.

Award for Best Thing to Say to Recovering Malaria Patient goes to Sherry from Alaska: “If there were a 7-11 here I would buy you a Slushee of your choice.”

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