A malaria test is pretty much like a pregnancy test….
except rather than pee on the stick, you bleed on it. You wait 15 minutes. One line means All Clear. Two lines = Oh Shit.
The first time I took the test was in the middle of the night, two days ago. Morten was wonderful. My fever spiked, hitting 39.7 C, about 104 F, and there was Morten ready to jab me with the needle, all part of The Super Fun Malaria Test. What a guy! After he determined I was negative, he still stayed up all night changing sweaty sheets and feeding me ibuprofen.
The next morning at the hospital, it was the same drill. We we’re first in line; we came before opening hours.
"Gimme a finger," said the battle axe of a Dutch doc.
She only liked toddlers. Any patient over five was out of luck. I reluctantly submitted a digit. More needles, more blood. And the test results were sad. I had a bacterial infection and still, a fever of 104 F.
They kept me there all day. A nurse named Joyce put wet cloths on my forehead, made me shower a few times, pumped me full of antibiotics.
But the fever did not budge. It’s didn’t drop a point.
Finally, around six, terrified I’d have to stay there all night in the boring bed, wondering what I’d managed to contract, and tired of feeling shivers crawl up my spine, while encased in a cocoon of polyester blankets: I MANAGED TO SWEAT.
Then it kept coming. Think buckets.
One follow-up visit to the hospital (today).
One more Super Fun Malaria Test.
"May I have your hand," a new lab guy asks.
I’m tempted to snap, “I’m already taken,” but it may only be funny to girls cracked out on antibiotics. So naturally, I comply; I hand it over. The needle looms toward one of my invalid fingers…
"Give that one a break," I say, flinching.
Three Super Fun Malaria Tests means seven fingers left for pricking. Well really, six. I’m a bit protective of my left-index. It was only recently sewn back on…
The truth about elephants: The good, the bad and the ugly.
Everyone loves elephants. There’s Babar the Elephant, Disney’s Dumbo…etc. All loveable.
It’s because elephants look like old people. They possess a special combo of traits: they appear wise and gentle. Of course, old people are immensely popular.
But Morten and I, we know the goddamn truth.
PAY ATTENTION: NOT ALL ELEPHANTS ARE CUDDLY.
Elephants can be:
1) GOOD 2) BAD 3) UGLY
1) THE GOOD ELEPHANT (mindin’ their own business, acting like “Planet Earth” portrayed them.)
2) THE BAD ELEPHANT (eating the hotel garden despite staff banging pots and pans in background, shooing them away. they leave when the trees are crunched: crooked, broken and bare)
3) THE UGLY (speaks for itself)
Morten, ever the economist, refers to Jones and Barnes (2007) who used crop damage data in crop enterprise models to show that average crop losses due to elephants, reduced net profits for small-scale crop growers by some 30% in Africa.
Further, Oki Osborn, a Cambridge zoologist, is developing elephant repellent, to assist small farmers in Africa.
"The massive creatures have the same reaction to pepper as people –the nose and throat feel as if they have burst into flames. Give elephants a whiff of red pepper and they will dance around like cartoon characters,”
Coming soon to a supermarket near you…
(NOTE: all photos are taken by T or M)
Zanzibar or “Stinkibar” ?!
To me, Zanzibar is heaven. It’s my Paris. Only instead of scarfing croissants and swanning around the Eiffel tower, I’m sitting beach front, smelling clove oil, watching the dhows float by on the aquamarine Indian Ocean, o.d.-ing on tuna steak kebab with mango chutney, king fish with coconut cardamom sauce, piri piri crab, date scones, papayas the size of your head….you get the idea.
But to some, Zanzibar is foul.
Take Livingstone for example, the infamous British explorer:
"The stench from the exposed sea beach, which is the general depository of filth of the town is quite horrible. At night, it is so gross and crass, one might cut a slice and manure the garden with it. It might be called ‘Stinkibar’ rather than Zanzibar." -Livingstone, 1866.
Because I haven’t seen or smelled anything remotely “Stinkibar” around, I’ve selected an image of elephant dung, taken from our safari, to help evoke that tangy, poo-ey, sweet decay sort of ODOR Livingstone referenced.
But still, I remain puzzled:
With this kind of beauty (below) what was that man smoking? ……and do I even want any?
Riding colonial style on the “iron snake”, Nairobi to Mombasa
Dubbed the “Lunatic Express” by Europeans and “Iron Snake” by Africans, the Uganda Railway was built in 1903 by the British, in order to connect coastal Mombasa, the capital of British East Africa, to the interior. The Brits shipped in thousands of Sikh laborers to complete the mammoth task. When the workers finished, they stayed—forever altering the character of the Swahili coast. The railroad proved to be strategic in ending slave trade and kicking the Germans out of East Africa.
For M and I, the train was a 15-hour retro-slumber-party, taking us from Nairobi to Mombasa with style. We booked a first-class sleeping cabin along with the rest of the mzungus (white dudes) and dined in the restaurant car at 7:15 PM, spilling our soup all over as the train lurched, before retiring to our bunk for a snooze. We awoke to the breakfast bell and shouts of children, hurling stuff at the train as we rumbled in slow-mo past their countryside shambas.
There’s nothing like a smooth ride on 100 yr old train tracks to make you feel truly rested. Next, catch up with us after our safari in Tsavo East.
Submerged: Retail and rain in Owino, Kampala
October rains found us and trapped us in Kampala’s largest marketplace, a dark warren of tin-roofs, tarps and piles and piles of scruffy merchandise. Owino market is some 25 acres in total, employing 50,000 people and serving so many more.
We went to interview vendors on the burgeoning mivumba (second hand clothing) trade. Instead, we perched on stools to wait the storm out, as the water level in the market rose. In Owino’s canteen, the water reached waist-high. Morten and I decided to make a dash for it, when the rains turned to ice. We sloshed through two feet of red-brown sludge before making it back to the hotel. My white converse sneakers will never be the same…
The next day, we returned to the market to finish our interviews. It was muddy as hell. A trash truck removed heaps of water-damaged merchandise.
But still, in the market that never sleeps or quits, it was business as usual.
Coffee is everything to Uganda. As an export, it accounts for 20 to 30% of Uganda’s foreign exchange earnings. Uganda’s newest trade partner/coffee addict is China. Where once tea was enough, the average Chinese consumer is scoring Ugandan coffee in their local Walmart. Uganda is also the only African country to successfully sell an African brand, Good African Coffee, in British supermarkets.
Morten and I sipped on some rare and oh-so-delicate single-origin Arabica at a Kampala cafe, pictured above. Next we’ll try a hearty Robusta—more common and (we think) often underestimated.
Booking and Planning
Planning our stop in Zanzibar we tried to book a room in Stone Town.
We emailed Flamingo Guest House. Four days later this message came back.
Double with birth room is $ 30 us share birth room is $ 20 us with break ferst , we arrange a airport pick up
Excellent. The birth room sounds exquisite. We would like to confirm the booking please.
First Stop: Entebbe, Uganda
You may know Uganda from the film a few years back ‘The Last King of Scotland’ - and associate the country with Idi Amin. But that was the 1970s and 1980s. Since 1986, the man in charge has been Yoweri Museveni.
We just refer to him as : Mu7i. Because we are clever like that.
Mu7i used to be a very well liked by everyone. He seemed democratic and supportive of IMF type economic policy. Uganda and Mu7i also oversaw one of the most successful AIDS/HIV prevention campaigns.
In Uganda, radio and newspapers carried daily AIDS stories and promoted AIDS education. The infection rate fell in the 1990s from between 25 to 30 percent in urban areas and about 18 percent in rural areas to 6 to 7 percent today.These data probably overstated the effects. Nevertheless, there was a significant reversal.
The success in bringing down infection rates in the 1990s was due in part to President Mu7i ’s willingness to speak about AIDS and encourage others to campaign.
But recently, Mu7i has criticized the use of condoms as un-African. Why?
Whether this was a result of his wife’s evangelical American Christianity or because he adopted a macho African mentality is unclear.
The timing of the change may be linked to the Catholic Church. In 2004, Cardinal Lopez Trujillo, President of the Pontifical Council for the Family, told the BBC in 2004 that condoms don’t help, claiming,
“the HIV virus is small enough to easily pass through condoms."
The role of the Catholic Church
Until 2004, the Catholic Church in Uganda, probably the most powerful non-government organization of the country, had avoided the debate about condoms. But in 2004-5 it joined the anti-condom campaign. During that period, the rate of decline in the number of new infections halted.
Richard Dowden reports that Cardinal Emmanuel Wamala of Uganda believes a woman should have unprotected sex with her husband, even if she knows he is HIV positive, rather than use a condom.
What’s going on, Uganda?
We will find out. More on this story, and others soon. We are not even there yet.