As you might remember I left the Netherlands on Thursday the 2nd of October. My last post on this log carries the timestamp of 1800, an hour later I was on my way to Dar Es Salaam. Still doubting to make the ride to Muhesa in one long run. The first few hours of the flight were pretty ok, I had 3 seats reserved for me alone, no hot chicks filled the seats next to me (bummer) but in exchange I got a very modern LCD tv (7") with touch screen controls. They had a bunch of recent movies, and tv series onboard. I watched one episode of the office US and spent most of my time reading some papers. So in a attempt to keep this episode of my story interesting I skip my hilarious dinner and conversation with a MIWNLTF. As soon as I planned to go in to coma mode, some old dude in front of me starts barfing. No, this wasn’t a small barf, he decided to barf trough the whole aisle. He probably ate some wrong sjit, but my barf detector concluded different. This dude had too much to drink. Well to conclude the plain episode. My barf sensor kept screaming, ‘don’t sleeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeep Amrish, stay Awaaaakeeee, cause barf means danger and you don’t wanna be stabbed by an angry oger do ya!?’, and so I did, awake, before I knew it was morning.
The Anal cavity search, to do or not to do
There comes a moment during every airplane flight that the plane is going to hit the ground. This can happen in several ways. Well our way was the proper way for the critics, that means: on several wheels and on the correct airfield/strip. I made my exit, not to speedy of course, did not want to draw any attention, you know me by now. Because I already arranged a VISA I could move past all the people who were waiting in line. So after customs, I made my exit. But apparently I did not pay any attention to the guard screaming at me, at least not in time. Well I did pay attention when he reached for his very impressive bullet launching machine. I excused myself, for not paying attention, and told him I was very tired. He asked me f0r what reasons I was visiting Tanzania. ‘Study’, I said while exchanging mutually cold expressions. Having no doubt about it, I reached for my improvised letter (bulletfast!!) which approved and explained my luggage content (40 to 60% diagnostic equipment, and some nice impressive stamps from all kinds of important persons). What happened after this is quite boring. But no anal cavity search and no scooping through my luggage. Phew, I will return with vials of red stuff in my luggage, fingers crossed for the same course of things during the trip to the Netherlands.
I was in Tanzania! My taxi was already waiting for me. Hans arranged that Chief, my driver would come to the airfield and pick me up. I must say that this was very convenient, I was tired, and cashless. The ride to Dar center was around 30 minutes and it was a typical sight. Slumbs on the outer zones were the word poverty was widely known. It is not different then from the books with the pictures begging for attention, how coldhearted it may sound, that is how it was. In Dar center I exchanged some cash and got a Tanzanian sim card (4 euro’s for a simcard and a sjitload of credit) I decided to go straight to Muhesa and meet up with Hans. This would mean another long ride with the bus, but afterwards the traveling would stop for a while. How wrong I could have been
If you are a stupid dickhead, you will get ripped off
The bus ride was taking forever, I am never going to complain about the NS, I swear. Next to that I was an interesting object of interest, but you know me, quite used to this kind of stuff. So I put up my cool face (sunglasses and cool smile) and tried to get some sleep. Didn’t happen. The bus driver woke me up before we left. He wanted me to pay some extra cash for my bag, which was in the luggage container. To be exact he wanted me to pay double. My logic told me that he was ripping me off. But logic works in mysterious ways especially when it comes to my logic , I decided to ignore logic. Cause the double of 4 euro for a trip of this extent was still affordable and still that much of me was saying that I would not win the discussion, not only because the guy and his friends were looking really grim but mainly because I only could understand the words ‘pay another 7k Tanz shilling’. I always make it a custom to learn some words of the native language if I visit a country, but because of my irregular and busy scheme in the period before I left, learning Swahili was completely neglected. The bus ride itself sucked ass don’t blame me for being honest, but I did get a nice impression of the landscape.
Karibu, here is your first case of malaria
Somewhere around Tanga I decided to call Hans, he was close by, actually I just passed him at a famous t-intersection (Moshi, Tanga). He was waiting for a sick child that he would drive to Korogwe hospital. I asked the driver to stop and to unload my bag. Hans picked me up and we went to the rendezvous point. We picked up a sick child, who had just had a malaria episode and came in with aneamia (bloedarmoede) and respiratory distress. Under young children malaria knows how to create massacre’s. Child mortality rates under the age of 5 years go up to 30% in high endemic areas. Hans who is an all rounder (but mainly a very skilled epidemiologist) decided to drop the kid at the hospital, although he did not share the conclusions of the dokter who made this decision. The kid is alright by the way. A step further on the road towards immunity against malaria.
After meeting some personal at the lab connected to this hospital, we went to the Bondo Chakenai field hospital. Our base of operation. No electricity, no running water but a shitload of people who require medical attention. Here I met Esther, a student in medicine at Nijmegen University who was stationed here for already 5 weeks.
Hans decided, that I had to go to bed. Which wasn't a bad advice. Before he would drop me off in the field he thought I should get a good rest and meal at his place in Muhesa. Not a bad advice, not at all. At this point I was awake for more than 38 hours. Taking in account that the upcoming weeks would bring a lot of hard work, and that my body had to adjust to the climate I knew I had to take care of myself. So after dinner, meeting Hans his wife, Jacobien, I went to bed to wake up the next afternoon.
Take it easy
Instead of moving on the next day, Hans advised me to take an extra day off, just, dive into the literature’, he said. I tried, truly I did. But ended up with playing with Sam, the very active and energizing offspring of Hans and Jacobien. Well at least I adjusted, to the climate, and the red sand which is full of iron. Ironically enough, both plants and people lack the same iron, which the ground holds so dearly.
On Sunday I left for Bondo. The field clinic, representing Africa in almost all the known stereotype images. Poverty, disease, hardship, but a lot of happy friendly and warm people. Finally leaving some room in my bag for air, I stacked all my lab equipment at Hans his place, because we wouldn’t be needing this in the upcoming weeks.
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