Tuesday, 16 October 2012

saturday, sunday, malaria

So Saturday and Sunday were both pretty interesting, both in very different ways. The rest of this week has been pretty boring as I’ve spent all of it at home!
On Saturday morning I decided that I was going to go to the football ground and see if there were any locals playing. As I was about to leave, I told Kristen (a girl from Konnecticut who’s mad about football) that I was going. She ditched her plans to go have brunch with people at a cafe in town and came along with me. We walked a different way than usual towards the main road. We spoke about each other’s plans, and what we’ve achieved so far. She told me something very interesting about a program set up recently in the states. It’s especially for people who don’t want to or chose not to go to university. This program grants you $100,000 USD, to go and set up your own business, charity, organisation etc. As long as you can prove you are a good candidate, have a clear idea of what you want to do, and can back it up with paperwork then you can get this money for free and you never have to pay it back. I’m going to look into it very closely. With my experiences in the past two years from travelling, working and after I have built this house, I might be able to apply. I think I’d use it to set up a charity which builds houses for poor people in Tanzania, or set up a proper business in South America. Don’t want to get too ahead of myself though, I haven’t even googled this dude yet, infact, I’ve forgotten his name. ANYWAY, after stopping at the supermarket and getting some Samosas, we got there at about 10 45. Last year, at this time on a Saturday, the place would have been full of locals wanting a match. This year it’s changed a bit unfortunately. There was one guy sitting behind the goal with his boots in his lap, and then a crowd of people in the distance. We approached, but as we got closer, it turned out that they were all children. I spoke to the coach and he said that nobody plays on Saturdays anymore, only Sundays. Annoying. Kristen and I decided to walk to Africafe to meet the others where they were getting brunch.
On the way we spoke mainly about Breaking Bad and how amazing the fourth season was. Neither of us have seen the fifth one yet, and we were trying to work out what happens in it. It took us a good half an hour to get to the cafĂ©, with a guy called Freddie pestering us most of the way, wanting us to buy his paintings. When we arrived, the others from the house had only just arrived too, which was lucky. We were worried that we would miss them. We changed tables about three times which really annoyed me. I was also wearing football socks, Italy shorts, and a Liverpool top so I looked like a right twat. We ordered, ate and chatted. I had a BLT. It was alright, but wasn’t enough so I had to get some chips aswell. I had asked Jennica the day before if she had wanted to go and meet Mama Mary, she said yeah but I double checked at the meal. She was still up for it which was cool, and seemed pretty excited about it too. I asked if anybody else would like to come along, Nadja said she would which was great. We headed down to friends corner and jumped on a Dalla towards Swahilini. When we got there, Jennica and Nadja said they would like to buy something for Mama before they arrived. They bought some rice and a big bar of soap. When we got to the house, some of the daughters were around, including Francisca and Vicki, but there was no sign of Mama or Agripina. I asked where she was, they said that she had gone to church, but it wouldn’t be too long until she got back. We waited around. I showed Jennica the build so far, and where the bedrooms would be etc. It was nice to see the house coming along and to be able to show it to other people!
It was lovely when Mama arrived. She hugged us, thanked us, and invited us inside. There were loads of other kids from around the village hanging about. Mama Mary shouted at a few of them and told them to give us some room, they did for a bit, but all came back eventually. We sat and just chatted among ourselves for a bit. It was nice, as always, not much understanding between us and the family, but we manage. I’ve started taking the piss out of the way Mama Mary she says stuff, it’s hard to explain in writing but ask me and I’ll do the impression. Then I got the kids doing a bit of singing, it was wicked. We did most of the songs that we usually do in school, plus a few others that I’ve been getting them to do. Stuff like, saying ‘Aggy Aggy Aggy’ and they say ‘OI OI OI’. I do it with all of the kid’s names in the class when they get something right on the board. They love it. It’s a bit unconventional and I’m pretty sure some of the teachers don’t agree with it but oh well. It makes them smile, that’s all I give a shit about. We messed around with cameras and video cameras too. I think Jennica filmed quite a lot of it, because she left the memory card for her normal camera at home. What a muppet. The kids love taking pictures, and they find it so funny when they see their own faces on the digital screen. We must have been there for a good hour and a half before the food came out. We had told Mama that we had already eaten lunch and that we could only possibly eat a small portion. They brought in a humungous bowl of rice and beans and put it on the bottom of a bucket in front of us. There were about seven or eight spoons hanging out of the side of it, which made all of us feel a little less concerned! It was so hot that I burnt my mouth on my first mouthful, everybody laughed at me. Mama Mary was going ‘Oooooo pole sana, pole sana, pole sana baba’. I think it means ‘I’m so sorry my Son’ but I’m not sure. I always tell her that she’s my second Mum, she loves it. Cassie told me a while back that she had always wanted a son. It comes in handy in this culture, to have somebody more likely to make more money for the family. It would all be so much easier for her if the Dad had stuck around and wasn’t a drunk, but oh well. We finished off a second portion, just about, and sat there, completely stuffed. It had gotten to about half three in the afternoon so we decided to call it a day. We said our goodbye’s, and then walked towards the Dalla. The children came with us as usual, and Mama Mary walked about half of the way. Jennica and Nadja seemed really happy, and said it had been the best day for them so far.
 On the way home, and on our way to catch the second Dalla, we walked past the football stadium. There was some music playing, and a game on, too. I asked if we could go inside to watch, and I wanted to find out if I could play a bit. They weren’t too sure but told me to go and ask somebody on the sideline. I spoke to the guy and he said that I might be able to and that I just needed to wait until half time. I asked him what the game was for. He told me that it was a fundraiser for a local school. I headed back to Jenny and Nadja who I’d left at the gate. We decided to go in. It costs us 3,000tsh each which really isn’t much, about a quid. We sat up in the stands and watched the game. One team were clearly better than the others, and were just all over them. They scored a couple of good goals, but it was so one sided that it was boring. Half time came around, so I headed towards the side line and asked if I could play for a bit. They were more than happy to have me play. The team was pretty young, there were some kids in there who must have only been about thirteen or something. I swapped shirts with one kid and then headed onto the pitch. The other team kicked off, and scored straight away. Pretty annoying. I got a few touches, made a few decent passes, and got forward a bit, too. But every time we lost the ball, our defence was so unorganised and tired out that they just walked it into our goal. Their keeper was so up his own arse that when we kicked off he was standing half way up the pitch. I told the guys to kick off, and that I would try and lob him from the half way line. The keeper didn’t clock on. The laid it back to me, I took one touch, and gave it a good old hoof. It bounced about a yard wide of the goal, I was gutted. But my effort was recognised and appreciated by both teams. The game finished, don’t want to mention the score. I had a picture taken with the team. I was pretty out of breath, been smoking too much. I headed back into the stands to sit with Jenny and Nadja. We hung around for a bit, watched the kids do a little theatre production, and then headed home. It had been a really nice day. I was really up the night too.
We decided to go to Empire. Pretty much everybody was there from the other volunteer house, too. I ended up getting completely hammered. You could tell just by looking at my eyes that I wasn’t really too sure what was going on, I could hardly speak either. Too much tequila. Beer, tequila and rum, doesn’t go. Matt (who is the guy that I’ve been sharing the room with) and I decided to get Boda’s home. I took Jenny on the back and he took Kristen. It was so much fun. We thought about doing it last night, but when you’re sober, it doesn’t seem like so much of a good idea. They are so dangerous. Fall off of one of those without a helmet and you’re fucked. Or they will drive you into the middle of nowhere and rob you, whichever you prefer really. I passed out on the sofa. When I woke up I was feeling rotten.
That morning we were heading to Tinga Tinga. Which is an area inhabited by the Maasai, about a three hour drive out of Arusha. Zaci, who is our guard, is a Maasai warrior. He was taking us that day to visit his family. We hired a driver to take us there and back for the day. It didn’t cost much which was good. I was feeling so rough when I got in the car, but it was self-inflicted so I tried to stomach it. We pulled into a garage to fill up on fuel. I decided that I needed to throw up so I went around the corner and chucked up everywhere, even on my shoes. It was all just liquid so I figured I’d got all of last night’s booze out of me. I felt so much better afterwards and walked towards the car with a smile on my face. I started feeling rough again about fifteen minutes later. We’d just got out of Arusha and onto the main road, and I needed to vomit again. I got out quickly and did my thing. Similar story, all liquid, horrible though. I questioned then what was going on. I never usually throw up from drinking, especially not the next day. So twice was unusual for me. Fifteen minutes later, it happened again, worse this time. I was bringing up bile and food from the day before too, something wasn’t right. I thought about calling a TVE, or a taxi, and going home right then. But I decided to man it up and carry on, I wanted to see Zaci’s village, and I wanted to see them slaughter a goat! But it just got worse, I threw another two times on the way. We stopped at a shop where I tried to drink a soda water to see if I could stomach it. I ended up having to lie down outside the shop. Almost unable to move, and feeling so sick I couldn’t think about going any further. But we’d come so far, and we were only a few minutes off the road which leads us to Tinga Tinga, so I decided to carry on. Kim and Grace were laughing at me, telling me to ‘man up’ and that it was only a hangover. I knew something else was going on but I tried to ignore it. The bumpy road to Tinga Tinga was nightmarish. I had started to feel dizzy, and I was getting really worried about staying hydrated. Everything I was drinking was coming back up, and we were driving into the middle of nowhere.
 When we arrived, I couldn’t get out of the car, so I tried to stay in there and sleep. It got too hot, and I was struggling to breath. Sweating out, I left the car and found some shade next to a local’s house. I sat there for a few minutes. Grace, Kim and Kristen sounded like they were having a good time, I could hear them laughing in the distance. Jenny however, wasn’t. She was worried about me and came over to make sure I was okay. I threw up again behind a big cement thing which I think was there to hold water. My vision started to go blurry, my legs started aching, I was panting heavily trying to get air, and I began to become seriously concerned that I wouldn’t be able to make it home. I was scared that I was going to die. Where I was, was the last place in the world that I could ever think of being that sick. Jennica stayed with me for most of the time, but I told her to go and enjoy herself and that I would be fine. She headed off. Zaci came to me every five minutes to check on me, and would say ‘pole sana’, over and over. That means, ‘I’m so sorry’. Whenever you’re sick in Tanzania, or even have an injury, locals will come up to you and say this. It’s a lovely part of the culture. I asked the driver when we would be leaving, he said in about half an hour. I was deteriorating quickly, and needed to get out of there. Eventually, after about another hour, and having to organise paying the village for letting us visit (which nobody expected), we were back on the road. I threw up about twenty minutes later, again. Then I managed to fall asleep.
When I woke up we were on the main road and back in Arusha. I told the driver that I needed to go straight to the hospital. Kim and Grace, still mocking me and calling it a bad hangover, asked if I should go home to try and sleep it off first. I wanted to kill both of them, or atleast tell them to fuck off. But I didn’t have enough energy too. The driver made a few calls to the TVE staff to arrange which hospital to go to, and after about twenty minutes we had arrived. I paid my share for the driver, and headed inside to the hospital. I got to see a doctor within about half an hour. I led down in the waiting area most of the time, and when I had to stand up the pain was pretty intense. My back and legs were killing me, especially my knees. I thought to myself that I might just be dehydrated, and that playing football the day before and sleeping in the car could explain for the sore back and legs. When I saw the doctor he sent me for a blood test. He pricked my finger with a sharp blade and took a couple of samples. I led down outside again. Jennica stayed with me the whole time, she even sorted out paying for things for me. I couldn’t do anything. I’d been thinking for the past few hours that I might have Malaria, but I was trying to dismiss it as I know how dangerous it can be. Well, it can be fatal. Before I got to see the doctor again, Nancy, my house manager arrived with our favourite taxi driver, Vallent. She said straight away that I looked like I had malaria and my symptoms were pretty standard. We waited for quite a while, I went to the toilet and dry reached a couple of times, there was nothing left in my stomach. Finally we got to see the doctor. He flicked through the blood test results and said in a typical African accent, ‘O my friend you have Malaria, I’m so sorry’. It was an odd feeling when he told me this, a mix of relief because I knew that I would be treated, but also fear of what was going to happen. I walked outside, hugged Jennica and told her that it was Malaria. I had to lie down again, so Nancy sorted out my medication for me. I had to get two injections there, one anti sickness and one anti-malarial. She put both in one and stuck it in my arse, it fucking hurt. I hobbled out and got in the taxi to go home. Oh yeah I forgot to mention. The Malaria that I had was number six. Which is really high, and the fact that I was able to walk was pretty impressive. Nancy said how she had number four and had to spend four days in hospital. They gave me four more shots, and some needles. We arranged to have Emily, a nurse who is volunteering here, to give me them every evening.
When I got home I told Kim and Grace that I had malaria and their faces sank, it was funny, but I couldn’t laugh. The other housemates were all pretty shocked, and I know that a few of them called their parents to express their concerns about getting it themselves. It scared a lot of them. Especially one girl called Sarah, she decided to leave a week early a few days after I got diagnosed. I went to bed. I was sweating buckets, and still breathing really heavily. I had stopped feeling sick though which was a result. Jennica chilled in bed with me, and just stroked my back for a bit. I got up and walked into the front room, and tried to eat some food. I think I managed a banana but couldn’t eat anything else. I fell asleep soon after. That night was rough, I woke up with sever shakes in the middle of the night and couldn’t stop for about an hour.
The next morning it took me a lot of effort to even sit up in bed, my breathing was as if I’d just ran five k’s. Jennica asked Nancy if she could stay home and look after me for the day. I really appreciated it, she’s such a sweet heart. It made me feel so much better to have somebody around. I was feeling ok, but my fever kept coming in waves. Unfortunately, later that afternoon, Jenny started to feel ill herself. She was throwing up violently upstairs, and was taken into hospital with Nancy an hour later. I wish I could have gone with her but I was still too sick. That night was pretty rough, similar story as the night before, and my stomach had started to feel a little dodgy. When I woke up that morning, I shat myself. Sorry to tell you all but I think it’s best that you know the details! I had to throw my shorts and boxers away, and get in the shower. After that I was exhausted. I was on the toilet for a while longer. Then I took my morning medications, and went back to bed. Stomach still churning, I was worried that the morning’s problems were going to repeat themselves. I slept for a few hours. The rest of the day was a bit of a haze, but after taking some immodium, and getting my malaria shot that evening, I decided that I felt well enough to go and see Jennica in hospital. She was still there, and was going to be staying that night, too. Vallent took me in the taxi, I told him to wait for me and that I’d be about an hour.
 When I saw Jenny I was pretty worried about her straight away. Her skin was a yellowish colour, and she had been throwing up all night. She was really weak, and when I walked her to the reception to speak to her mum on the phone, she could hardly walk. I asked the nurse if they’d checked anything for the yellow skin, and she said that they had run blood tests and everything looked normal. I wasn’t convinced. The hospital wasn’t nice, it was dirty, and all of the equipment was ancient. I lay down with Jenny for a while, just to try and comfort her. She was smiling which was good, I think my visit did her a bit of good. I asked her if she wanted me to stay the night, but she said no. I don’t think she wanted me to see her throwing up in the night, and I needed to rest properly, too. I got my mum to call me on my way home, and I chatted to her about how worried I was about Jennica. She said that she would speak to some of her friends in the medical field and get them to call me to help me try and figure out what was wrong with her. I knew that yellow skin was never a good thing, and that it usually meant kidney or liver failure. Serious stuff.
Jennica came home the next day. After a few hours of her still not feeling good, and when she told me that she’d had a dodgy pee, I knew that it might be best to take her to a better hospital. Nancy took us to the Aga Khan, which I’m not sure I’ve spelt right. Aga Khan is a big hospital in Nairobi, and a university, too. They have a small hospital here in Arusha which is really new. She got treated much better there. Emily, the nurse came along too and made sure that everything was going the way that it should. I was feeling much better by this point too, still not ready to go out and doing anything tiring, but I had no symptoms anymore. After a few hours, we went home. Jennica and Nancy went home, and I went to the other volunteer house because it was social night. I chatted to people there, ate a bit of food, and then went home.
The next day Jen was getting pains in her side so she went back to the hospital. She was back soon after, and had just been told to stay hydrated properly. That evening I went to watch the England game at empire, but I didn’t drink anything. I went out last night, but only had a few beers. Quite a few other people had been sick in the week too, and the ones that were eventually feeling better got pretty smashed. Jen and I left early and came home to watch a couple of movies. The others came back pretty late and were really loud. Matt wanted to smoke a joint, so I rolled him one and left them to it. We had a bit of a scare when they were arriving home, two of the boda’s had split up from the rest of them and hadn’t arrived yet. I tried to call Lindsay’s phone, some dude picked up, which made us all freak out a bit. They turned up eventually. Apparently their drivers didn’t know where they were going and got lost. Panic over. I went to bed around three, I was wide awake and it took me a while to get to sleep.
Today, Sunday, I went and played football at Soweto, which I did a lot of last year. Aaron, an American volunteer from a home stay came along with me. He loves football and is a pretty decent centre back too. I played about eighty minutes, missed three sitters, but got one assist. Next week I’ll score.
I forgot to mention that Jennica got diagnosed properly in the end. She had a Hep A infection, which caused the severe fever and yellowness of the skin, too. She’s much better now, but isn’t allowed to drink any alcohol for another six months. Bummer. 

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