I’m allergic to West Africa.

Yep.  It’s true.  I’m allergic to West Africa, I fear.  Or maybe it’s IRC.  Or maybe just work in general.

I’d only been there in Abidjan a few days when I started feeling all achy and feverish.  Signs I should have been familiar with, but had banished to the back of my mind.  After a night of excruciating pain and high fever, I came to the conclusion that the infections I’d been having continuously in Liberia in the months before I left had returned.  Of course, since I left Liberia I’d been the picture of good health – well, other than self-inflicted klutz-factor related injuries, of course.  So I hadn’t come prepared with my usual traveling pharmacy for self-medication.

Luckily I’m here working on a Health proposal, so my colleagues are an MD and an RN – both had plenty of cipro and ibuprofen to get me started, so I’m on the road to recovery.  I do love the abandon with which us development folk both self-diagnose and self-medicate.  I’m always a bit wary, but after you’ve gone to one incompetent doctor too many it really hits home that medicine in most parts of the world really is an art and not a science.  And I certainly know myself better than anyone else, so my guess is as good as theirs most of the time.  Why pay to confirm what you’re 99% sure of, especially when you don’t need a prescription to get the drugs and the pharmacy anyways, and you have your own non-practising MDs to help you with dosage? Not to mention I would be incapable of explaining my symptoms in French.

(Mom, don’t worry – I will go to a doctor if it gets worse!   Don’t you love it that moms still worry even when you’re 31?)

Abidjan again

It feels odd. It was almost exactly a year ago that I was here in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire with IRC for a conference. Now I’m back helping their Health team out with a proposal for a couple of weeks.

It’s great to be back – the team here is very welcoming and friendly, but I am totally LOST. I haven’t spoken French since I was here last, and it was pretty poor then!  I am really struggling with the basics – I somehow managed to skip the whole intro French stuff back in the day when I started learning, so I am particularly bad at things like greetings and pleasantries – it probably makes me look unfriendly, but I honestly don’t know what to say when people greet me!

It’s interesting being back with IRC West Africa, seeing so many familiar faces and hearing the gossip of what’s going on in the region and beyond.  In many ways it feels like nothing has changed at all.  But it’s cool to be back as a consultant, working specifically on one project rather than being swamped by a million things at once.

The trip here was long – suffice it to say I ate way too much odd airplane foods at weird times of the night and slept in such a way my neck may never be the same again.  The best thing about the trip was that on my first leg (CPT-Dubai) we flew in an Emirates 777.  It had an awesome lighting system, and when the food service was over and it was time for the passengers to go to sleep the ‘sky’ lit up blue with little pinpricks of starlight!  Very pretty.