My great friend Amy has been visiting me for the last almost three weeks, ever since I got up from my sickness. Which I realize I've never written about here, but I'll get to that later. Anyway, Amy came for three weeks and she leaves on Tuesday. And she just found out that her flight has been postponed
for about 14 hours, so that she will likely miss the connection in Barcelona which she bought separately. When she realized the implications of all of this, she turned to me and said,
It's quite apt, telling about so much of both her three week trip and my two years here. So much of the experiences are unique and memorable because of the chaos, the diversity, and the utter unpredictability of almost everything here. We've been having a great time, mostly playing with and off of that theme.
Today we went to Serekunda market, probably the busiest in the country, to shop for fabric in order for Amy and Sarah to have wrapper skirts made. The best way to buy fabric there is to hunt through the piles of small pieces of fabric that are outside of the shops, instead of the big pieces on sale inside, which they usually won't cut from the standard six meter lengths. So, Amy and Sarah demonstrated womankind's worldwide capacity to shop for much longer than mankind feels physically capable of,
and dove into countless piles of fabric in order to each buy more than twice as much as they came to buy. Good times.
After that we went to a tailor that a friend recommended, and the end result is that Amy is taking home a small pile of skirts for less than $5 each, hopefully some of which will be in a style that works in Chicago this summer.
So, the sick thing. My last post was from Dakar, where I went to have my arm looked at when it was all a mess. When I got back, I had been running nice high fevers for a few days and only marginally conscious most of the time. I went to the nurse, she gave me some ibuprofen and told me to return on Monday. I spent the weekend soaking the sheets of my bed and taking lots of the ibuprofen, having the worst headaches of me life, and when I went back on Monday morning they wouldn't let me leave again - the other nurse saw me and realized it was bad, I guess. I spent the next week in bed, lost about 15 pounds, and generally wasn't much fun. Sarah came down to help, get me food and make sure I took all the pills they were pumping into me. They never did come to a conclusive diagnosis, I was treated for malaria even though three blood tests came back negative (I take mephloquin as a prophyalaxis and it tends to hide malaria in samples, and the clinic here is known to return all negative results some days or weeks), and tested for mononucleosis, but the one nurse thought it was dengue fever. Which I guess my symptoms lined up with the most closely. In any case, I got up out of bed and went to Fara Fenni, but then stayed in my house for a week except to eat lunch and dinner. Then I came back down to the coast and slept for a few more days before Amy showed up. It was about three weeks of next to no activity, but now I'm getting stronger, and have been doing a bit of bombing around with Amy, so I think I'm definitely getting well. Somehow slowly.
The arm that was falling off the bone is now basically back into the shape of a muscle, albeit one that is smaller than before and with a bit of a funky look to it. Hopefully some yoga and good food will put it to right, whenever I can get those.
Upcountry these days is hot. Hot like a hairdryer in the face. Hot like hoofprints in the road as it melts back into liquid tar. Hot like the water in a bottle is closer to tea. Which we still boil water for and drink, even though it's hot as it is. I guess we're just idiots. The mornings are still cool most days, and the humidity is still low, so I'm not miserable yet, but it's been hard work for Amy I think. Sarah had guests come just before Amy arrived, they had a three day overlap and perhaps got Amy a bit scared (after our people in America had done the same) about the heat. When they went upcountry, they got swollen ankles and heat exhaustion for a few days, just enough to feel like they'd been tested and tell stories about how hot it is. In any case, we had more than a week of it, and she survived just fine. Even if the occasional curse slipped from our lips when we had to walk anywhere during the daytime. Now, back down on the coast, there was some moaning about how cool the wind was yesterday as we sat by the ocean. It can never be perfect, I suppose.
So, life here continues, even as it starts to feel that the end has arrived. Two months from now I will probably be back down in Kombo, wrapping up my paperwork and saying last goodbyes. It seems so short. And so long, so full of events and learning. It's always Africa, always its own place with its own rules and ways of going along. Oh, Africa.