I've pretty much spent the past 7 weeks sick of one thing or another. It started with the Halloween party (mental note: do NOT share glasses with people obviously struggling to breathe) and was mostly a chest cold. Then it may have been allergies: the dust since the dry season started has been bad and it kept me awake nights for weeks. Then I went to IST (in-service training) at the ocean-side resort town of Kribi on Sunday and instead of beach-bumming and attending classes, spent Tuesday evening-Saturday morning in bed with various stomach issues... a trip to the hospital told me it was typhoid and malaria! Now after a few days at the case in Yaounde, I'm back in Bandjoun and have another chest cold. As a result, I have to cancel my much-anticipated climb up Mount Cameroon over Christmas.
C'mon, Cameroon! Gimme a break.
In any case, I thought I'd frame this in terms of the silver linings. Here are the top 6 advantages to spending the past week in bed:
- Avoided Robbery. If I hadn't been sick in bed, chance are I would have been at the bar across the street from the hotel in Kribi on Thursday evening at 10pm. That was where I was there Monday evening at that time. So Thursday, 4 men with guns and machetes relieved 21 of my Peace Corps peers of all their stuff. Not to discount the horror (especially the guy kicking in the bathroom door, and then hacking Julia with a machete as she cowered in the corner), but... if I had lost my Blackberry, I would have been very, very, very depressed.
- Avoided Sessions. Not to say the sessions were more boring than sleeping the entire day (not all of them, anyway), but... putting us in a beach-front hotel and then scheduling training from 8a-5p every day? Are you kidding me?
- Avoided Hotel Food. 11/43 volunteers were sick that week, the diseases I know about were typhoid and amoebic dysentery. It's kinda hard not to blame the food at the hotel. That and the inference that I have not eating the food at all listed as an "advantage".
- Avoided spending money. I didn't buy any souvenirs since I didn't go anywhere. The pizza Monday evening was 5,500 CFA, so it was a good thing I didn't feel tempted to go back again. OTOH, I spent 30,000 CFA on the hospital visit and medicine!
- Enjoyed American movies at the Case! I wouldn't have gone back through Yaounde if I hadn't been sick, and I hadn't been to the Case before. It was a great relief... just like a college dorm! I got to go to an American/European-style supermarket (Casino) and watch movies like Airplane and Spiderman 2. I also had my first hamburger in 6 months at the bar across the street, though I can't say I would recommend it. Hardly any meat. Or condiments. Soggy fries. Beggars can't be choosers!
- Prescription medicine! Hooray for being able to walk into the PCMO office and walk out with medicine. I got Beconase AQ for my allergies, a medicine I last saw in the mid-90s when my doctor told me it was too expensive and inconvenient to take. Unfortunately I never took it again: it's a steroid that inhibits your allergy symptoms, in my case an incessantly itchy, runny nose. I walked out with a 6-week supply, and have already started on it: very happily too!
Bonus silver lining: not going to Mount Cameroon means I can stay in and work on my websites. I'll be visiting another PCV for Christmas, and hopefully birding Mount Kupe with a guide to find the famous rare shrike. And hopefully some other stuff. I consolidated my photos, videos and sighting reports on a new searchable birding website and noticed my list for Cameroon after 6 months is a pathetic 125! I need to get out and find some of the other 800 species in this country...
Also, from comments and hit counts, I see the Books for Cameroon site is also starting to generate some interest.