Thursday, March 8, 2012

A rough day. An amazing day.

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So I went to bed last night with my little backpack next to me, as I usually do when I don’t feel secure in my room. This way I know if someone tries to take my laptop/passport/money, etc… (also slept with the pocketknife and pepper spray at my side). To be clear, I wasn’t unsafe, the room just wasn’t secure, didn’t lock well.

In the middle of the night I started to feel pain in my little toe – it had been a little irritated for some time, but now it was pain, unavoidable. It was throbbing and I assumed I had an infection or something under the nail.

I woke up with ants all over my bag (yes, IN THE BED) from a little spill of beef stew the night before. Sick.

I looked at my toe and realized what it was: an insect – what they call chiggers here – had burrowed itself into my toe right next to my toenail. To be totally honest, I was slightly relieved to know it wasn’t some crazy infection that was going to kill me within the next 24 hours (you know, the African nightmare… some worm that crawls into your skin, cannot be killed, but takes your life within a day…) Then I processed the fact that an insect was living in my foot and wanted to cry.

Lucky for me, I am traveling with a doctor. I walked to Caroline’s room and knocked – my exact words were “I’m freaking out and I need you to not freak out or I’m gonna start crying.” Her exact response was, “That is never the way I want to start the day.” She proceeded to dig at my pinky toe with tweezers and a needle until she got the little bugger out. It hurt and it pissed me off. I almost barfed. (Yes, a there is a barfing theme…)
So I cleaned the ants off my bag, bandaged my toe and we headed out around 7 am to our final game drive to try to find some lions.

We are traveling in an open roof car – a safari-van, if you will. It’s one of my favorite things, driving with my head out of the top of the car trying to negotiate the bumps and divots of the dirt road without falling down. (Kinda like mountain biking, but you rarely get hurt… ) To be honest, I didn’t think we would find the lions. I have seen all the other animals I’d though I would see here… but lions. And frankly, I REALLY wanted to see one! Our driver/guide found out from another driver/guide that lions had been spotted off the main road (weird, not safari-like at all, but whatever)… He drove us there very quickly and we soon spotted the 15 other safari vehicles checking out what we assumed to be lions.

They are as majestic and beautiful as you would expect, and much much more. A mama and her baby. We watched them hunt and attack a group of warthogs (POOR PUMBA!!!)  - though they did not actually catch the warthogs… it was amazing. The whole thing. I sat on the roof of the car and watched them for about an hour. It was the highlight of my day and probably this entire “national parks” trip for me.

Upon arrival at the hostel I decided to wash my backpack, which had been through three weeks of mountain climbing, a lot of touring through Africa, at least part of an adventure race and who-knows-what-else since it’s last been washed. I realized recently that every time I wore white I would turn it brown from putting the backpack on. This combined with the beef stew/ant incident made me decide to wash the thing. I swear to you, I’ve never seen water so brown. It was mud, really.

So, clothes, bag, etc washed, lions spotted, chigger removed… I was ready for lunch.

Sitting at the fancy hotel near the hostel we are staying at, I realize that a little bump on my arm (it stems from a bite I got in Nairobi almost 6 weeks ago) is moving. I’d asked Caroline about it a couple of weeks ago and she said “If it’s not infected, don’t worry about it, but don’t be surprised if a bug comes crawling out of it at one point.” So this bump is not really a bump anymore; it’s more of a line. I looked at Caroline and told her that I think I have a worm in my arm. I can tell she’s annoyed, which is fair seeing as she just removed an insect from my toe not more than 6 hours ago… When she looks at it though, she realizes that it is a strange thing. She tells me to draw a line on it so that I can track its movement – so I do.
Looking at the marker now, the thing in my arm has already moved. SO FREAKING WEIRD!
I should be grossed out by this, but really – it’s part of the journey. I kinda laugh, really. I’m lucky to be traveling with someone that can give me an idea of what to do or how to get rid of these things.

I’m good, I’m good, I’m good, but TIA – This Is Africa – a land where you see lions crossing the street and things smaller than you crawl into your skin to live. Weird and amazing and a million other things all at the same time.

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