Monday, December 25, 2006

Happy Holidays from Niger

Season's greetings everyone! Well it's Christmas and here I am in Niger. Turns out Christmas isn't really a big deal in Islam. Who'da thunk it? I miss snow, and ambient christmas music, and friends, and family, and good cheer (read: copious amounts of alcoholic beverages), and all that. It just isn't the same here.

But about half of the volunteers are all in Niamey (the other half being at the other end of the country in Zinder) and it's kinda like being with one big family. Everyone is making various dishes and doing nice things and being merry. This morning I was awaikened by two elves (Alison and Alex in home made costumes) wishing me a merry christmas. Everyone spent the morning chatting and milling about and drinking ghetto mimosa's. There were even stockings for everyone hanging up and filled with random goodies.

There was a late pancake and sausage breakfast curtesy of some industrious voluntters. And a date (there is no gingerbread) mud hut and christmas tree were made. Lots of christmas carrols playing in the back ground too...until it dissolved into the obligatory movie watching.

We just got back from a staff member's house for drinks and snacks and are now heading back to the hostel where Brandon is cooking a Christams barbeque. Bacon Cheeseburgers! All in all, it has felt way more like christmas than I was expecting I feel all warm and fuzzy.

I do miss being home with friends and family very much, but it's nice that all the volunteers can come together as a sort of surrogate family and have a good time too. Have a Merry Christmas everyone!

Also, there is a christmas podcast on Djimi's blog.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Eleven Months Later...

My intestines of steel finally gave in. After 11 months of impeccable health, I finally caught a case of dysentery. Actually two. Both amoebic and bacterial. My opinion, it's not as bad as I thought it would be. Basically I woke up in the middle of the night and felt kinda feverish and weaklimbed which made it hard to sleep. I moved into my house and when I woke up I still felt kinda icky. So I waited for the market bus cause it was sunday, planning to go into Niamey and see my medical officer the next day.

Well the bus was about 2 hours late, and at about the 1.5hr mark, I didn't feel so bad. So I went back to my house figuring I'd sleep it out and see if I still felt icky that evening. The bus brings people back from market and then returns to Niamey again in the evening. Mostly though, I really wanted to spend more than a week at post before coming back in. The fear of scolding has made me avoid Niamey even when sick! ok, not really.

But yeah, so I still feel icky after sleeping all day, though I still didn't have the runny shits, just a little cramping and weakness. So I catch the evening bus at 5:30 and finally make it to Niamey around 7:30. Though the cold night air blowing in through the windows made me feel worlds better. The Nigeriens asking me if I'm from America and why I don't speek french however, did not. Go figure, I spend all day agonizing over whether or not my gastrointestinal distress is enough to warrant a trip to civilization, and by the time I arrive I feel fine.

So the next morning I go and poop in a cup, only a little cramping, feeling better over all. Though, the particular shade of mustard with a smooth jelly coating convinced that I was, infact, sick. That and the powerful aroma I left lingering in the rest room. Later that day my doctor confirmed that I had amoebas and bacteria and gave me a pile of drugs.

I have to say, the drugs have been knocking me on my ass solidly for the last 3 days, hence my still being here. Overall I would say that the daily cocktail used to treat it was more unpleasant than the actual illness. Oh well.

So, that's all I really have to report, or atleast all that comes to mind. Heading back to the bush in a few minutes but figured you would all enjoy hearing about my immunological misadventures. Now if I can hang out for the next 11 months I'll feel pretty good. Hopefully this isn't the sign that my immune system has finally been broken down.