[ Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire ]
Hello everyone, and Happy Anniversary!
It’s hard to believe, but one year ago today my plane landed in Casablanca. Little did I know what I was getting myself—and you—into, but here we are, and it’s about time I brought you up to speed. Or at least started the process. Fair warning, though: there’s not a lot of Happy Happy Joy Joy in this update.
These past two months have been a challenge, and not of the exciting, on-the-road variety. Rather than making my way through vast landscapes and tilting at the windmills of African weather and terrain, I have explored the nooks and crannies of a single tiny Ivoirian neighborhood. Last time we spoke I was fending off a case of typhoid fever in a corner of Yopougon-Sable here in Abidjan. Since then I’ve spent hours at the local health clinic trying to isolate the cause(s) of numerous persistent symptoms. Twice I tested positive for malaria and have undertaken the usual treatment. Twice I recovered, seemingly, yet thrice the symptoms reappeared—most recently today. (Clearly I have a talent in this regard.) Once I had bronchitis. There was an unpleasant case of dysentery and sundry additional abdominal complaints. All against a recurring backdrop of fatigue, low-grade headaches, and intermittent (mild) fever. I have received multiple injections of antibiotics and one of steroids, the former (an intravenous injection) perhaps the most painful experience I’ve ever had with a needle. Oh, and I lost a tooth—a crown, which is at least easy to repair. There were other things, too, not related to health, such as a dead cellphone and the impending death of my camera—but you get the picture; I’ll cut my list short before it morphs into a bad country-western tune.
The upshot of this? I find myself stuck in a Catch-22: enough resources to go, but in questionable health—or enough resources to stay and recover, but not enough to properly treat whatever-it-is. What money I have disappears into my lodging, clinic visits, medications and supplies, and thus unable to fund either the visas needed to move forward or visit(s) to a better hospital or doctor where I might get more conclusive/effective diagnoses and treatments. Enough to stay, not enough to go. Grrrrrr…
To be clear, at any given moment my health is OK; I’ve never felt terrible. None of you should be overly worried: I’ve been ill, but not miserably so. There have been no severe symptoms (excepting last week’s intestinal turmoil). Yet I haven’t the energy or peace of mind to drag myself back onto the road, and the relapses of malaria and the uncertainty of Illness X have become demoralizing. Depressing—intensely so at times. The days pile up around me, building an ever-higher and more forbidding wall, and rather than reaching out to all of you for moral support—and a psychic kick in the backside—I have withdrawn. That’s a bad thing, obviously, resulting in a low-grade, persistent panic attack. It’s not a good mental place to be.
So this is me reaching out; trying to get a jump start from the Transglobalist tribe. I’d love to get some messages, calls, emails, inappropriate GIFs involving Disney characters, telepathic sext-messages. Whatever you can think of. I’m adrift out here and need the connection. Call it a Sanity Intervention—I need the connection, there’s no doubt about it. Also, as much as I hate to talk about it, I could use your ideas regarding funding, at least to cover some additional medical and to get my camera back in working condition. As the holidays are upon us, I was thinking about selling high-res, printable digital downloads of photos from the journey thus far—you pick any photo you want for $25; or pick four for $100 and have access to your choices AND everyone else’s?
Anyway…enough. I’ll stop for now. If I try to expand this into something more entertaining or detailed, I’ll end up—once again—not posting at all, thereby adding another brick to The aforementioned Wall. For now let’s just cue the Pink Floyd, and I’ll be on my way.
Your Favorite Disappearing Transglobal Malarialist,
There is plenty more to say; good things, and fascinating. My recent experience has been both frustrating and disappointing, but ultimately it’s just another part of the adventure. It is a story within The Story, and I have experienced deeply a small slice of urban life in West Africa. I have a neighborhood; people I greet on the street every day; a sense of the rhythm of the streets and the people who populate them. It keeps me sane despite the setback, and the stories, I hope, are something to look forward to.
Seriously. Let me hear from you. The more direct, the better. I’ll be forever grateful.