Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Mrs. Todo Cokfect's wild ride II

Mrs. Toad's Wild Ride II

After saying adieu to the next batch of fugees to head for American soil I made my way to my trusty haunt the Jacaranda Hotel. I have stayed there now four or five times and this time I decided, after one night spent mainly on the pot, that it was time to upgrade in light of Amers visit.

The Jacaranda's frayed blankies and lack of decent water pressure were ok in the beginning when I was a bright-eyed relief worker but now that I have tasted the good life in Dar there was no going back. I made my way to the oasis that is the Nairobi Holiday Inn and secured our spot. At around 7 I made my way to JKIA airport and waited by the gate jostling against the aggressive taxi drivers for a view of my twin descending the stairs.

Finally she emerged from the surging tide of humanity and we had our tearful and giggly reunion-reminiscent of our other greetings when we had been apart in foreign countries-London Heathrow, Kuala Lampur, Tokyo and of course SFO and Denver.

Despite the fact that it is 'winter' the weather in Nairobi was beautiful. It was fun to see Nairobi at night through Amy's eyes-'terrifiying'. Nai-robbery as it is unaffectionately known is best seen in the daylight when your chances of getting carjacked-while still astronomical-are diminished.

We headed to the bar and had a celebratory Tusker-the local boozy fare-and got caught up. Every few minutes a 'holy shit I can't believe I'm/you're here!'. As this warm fuzzy reunion unfolded something else was unfolding in my innards.

Until this time I had prided myself on the fact that despite eating greasy roadside donuts in Kibondo I had experienced nary a runny stool. Now the stools they were a-runnin. As was a fever. This started to seem serious. The next day Amy got to see the IOM medical facility as it seemed important to make sure I didn't have malaria or cholera or one of the many other diseases that start to appear in your vocabulary on a regular basis when you live in Africa.

The doc didn't like the way I grimaced in pain when she touched my abdomen so she sent me to the clinic. Amers was a trooper. We had hoped to visit the animal orphanage so she could meet my friend the cheetah but instead, we spent the rest of the day stuck first in Nairobi traffic and then in the waiting room with hacking children and sniffling Somali refugees as we waited for me to get my blood drawn. Welcome to Africa sister!

Then came the news-the blood test was inconclusive. Could I give a stool sample? I might have been able to provide a watery squirt but the 5 Immodium I had swallowed in a panic had had the desired effect and there was no way I could produce for the doe-eyed lab technician. Amy, more schooled in third world living than I, recognized that her weekend would be spent dealing with poo if we didnt make this happen and urged me into the bathroom with the little plastic match box with the universal biohazard symbol on it.. No dice.

Doe Eyes said it was ok, go home, send later. Amy in her infinite wisdom asked for a q-tip. Whilst unpleasant, something appeared and we cheered. A few minutes later Doe Eyes came back shaking his head, 'Pole Sana not enough'. Gaaaa. When Amy asked for a lubricant I had to put my foot down. My anal probing was done for the day.

It was not gonna happen. We decided to go back to the Holiday Inn and try our last-and most trusty resort-Chardonnay. Now this might not seem like a good idea to most people--but most people aren't Strandoos. Outside of Ballard anyways. The Chard did the trick-hurrah! I managed to squeeze out a brown portion the size of the last joint in my pinky, secure it in its biohazard emblazoned container which was then concealed in an innoccuos Holiday Inn plastic bag.

The sample was sent off to the lab with my favorite taxi driver in the whole world, Daniel.

We went to bed satisfied with our accomplishment (mine really) and woke to a new day full of the promise of answers to this nagging question of 'salmonela, ghiardia, parasite...?' I got a call from trusty Daniel telling me he was in the lobby and could I meet him right away? When I got to the lobby he was seated across the room on a sofa and with an apologetic (but wry) grin. Slowly, he held up the bag that I had given him the night before (Me: 'um it's a blood sample for the lab,,,' ).

Well my boy Daniel made his way to the clinic alrighty but of course I wrote down the wrong clinic so by the time he found Doe Eyes it was too late. 'Not fresh' was Doe Eyes' verdict. We both dissolved into giggles as only two people who have shared a stool sample debacle can. I retrieved the bag and asked the haughty receptionist to dispose of it for me (HAW!) .

At this point I decided to continue with my current (as of night before) regime of Chardonnay,Nachos (the first in five months how could I say no?), and Amy's Arythromiccin. The combo had a winning effect.

We took a day trip to Nakuru, the place where Reed and I saw a cold-eyed Leopard consider his chances. Amy and I saw Rhinos (white and black), the millions of flamingos on the lake, baboons (those red bottoms-ew!), lions (ok only their swishing tails as they were all asleep) a leopard (again only a dark shadow in a tree), giraffes, and the usual warthogs (so ugly! but endearing) and all the other bushbacks and buffaloes that dot the landscape.

In more true Strandoo fashion we forgot a camera and binoculars and could only giggle jealously at the other tourists with their telephotolenses. We bought a camera at the gift shop and after the shopgirl had dusted it off (phooofff!) we loaded it with another relic of the 90's-film-and proceeded to take a roll of film mainly of bushes that we accidentally exposed later (culprit-Chardonnay).

In the morning Daniel picked us up for the airport (more embarrassed yet conspiratorially giggling) and we made our way to Mwanza, a small city on beautiful Lake Victoria where we embarked on the next leg of our Tanzanian adventure.

One bonus was that we had a few hours in Dar es Salaam where we had enough time to have Gerard my next favorite taxi driver in the whole world take us to the Irish Pub at the Peninsula Hotel for lunch so Amy could see another favorite haunt. Dar is a beautiful seaside city on the Indian Ocean and a breath of while not so freshy fresh air a different scene from Nairobi. We sat overlooking the the Indian Ocean, a beautifully restored dhow in front of us, the Masai guards in all their glory and cell phones on their ears) and had a quick lunch before setting of for Mwanza.

Mwanza airport is a tiny airstrip and we found a quick bite. We were hounded by bees and amused the locals as we constantly jumped out of our seats and swiped unsuccessfully at the African bees.

The flight from Mwanza is on the UNHCR plane-a twelve seater that goes direct to Kibondo. I told Amy that if I had to draw a graph of entry into Africa Nairobi-Dar-Mwanza-Kibondo is the prefect gradulation. Kibondo is in the middle of nowhere in nowhere. Recently when Reed was in Dar he was told by a guy who grew up in Kibondo. "Man' he guy said, 'Thats like living in Africa within Africa!'.

The airstrip appears out of nowhere, we get picked by the LandRover, and tarmac is a thing of the past. Its all villagers in bright kanga clothes and buckets or firewood on their heads, goats, long horned cattle my jogging nemesi). The next few days were spent at Kumwayi where we live-exploring the countryside with the hordes of kids following-thrilled to see yet another white woman-this one even more white if thats possible! I worried Amy would be bored but was reassured that she relished the down time as she explained that she hadn't been able to read her mysteries and snooze al day long in three plus years. We gushed over photos of Gunnar and Tove and got caught up on their latest exploits and developing vocabulary.

We spent the week in Kibondo, not realizing that the ordeal of getting in would be trivial compared to the logistics of getting out.


Supermosca said...

Happy Belated Birthday Annie!
So what happen with your stool - funny and scary story.

What you are doing is amazing.

dannyo said...

You left us hangin on the stool story, but perhaps that was intentional. What happened? Or did you just keep drowning the problem until it went away? And the photos accompanying the blog are very enigmatic. I spent way too much time trying to see a stool sample on the horse carving....wait, don't tell me that was the stool sample? No wonder you left that part out. And the other photo, I'm guessing was the bag holding it being thrust at somebody, or by somebody? Food for thought. Very entertaining blog. Can't wait for wild ride III! Julie & I miss you.