“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”

~Mark Twain

Monday, October 1, 2012

Sick as a fish


I was pretty sick the past couple of days. In Guinean you develop a “new normal” for what is sick and what is healthy. So while I would have been alarmed and shocked with what was going in the US, in Guinea, I come to expect something like this every once in a while. I even had a friend going through the same thing about 20 hours ahead of me so I could check in and see what the future had in hold for me. My community was very concerned since they thought I had malaria. I would not be shocked if a broken wrist was misdiagnosed as malaria in this country. So I had many visitors. My counterpart (PC assigns you an official work partner) came three times on Friday and was alarmed that I was not eating. I promised him that on Saturday I would eat some bread and to not worry. Well worry he did and he and his wife decided to bring me a meal on Saturday. They came by around 5 with a plate covering another plate dropped it off, said hello, and left. I wondered what could be inside. Bread? Bananas? Plain rice? Maybe bouille (it’s rice or corn or millet pounded into a flour, reformed into balls and then boiled until it has a stew consistency)? I opened the plate and what did I find? A whole fish that looked both terrifying and terrified. Somehow it looked sharp and the mouth was open bearing teeth. The eye socket, a black abyss. It was on the plate with a huge pile of greasy potatoes, onions and spices and topped with a huge dollop of mayonnaise. This is something I would not be able to stomach even if I had not been throwing up. I threw the lid back on, and once I realized that the smell would not make me sick, I had to laugh at the situation. It was incredibly sweet of them to prepare me such a feast, but another case of culture clash. As I was told many times, in Guinea if you don’t keep eating hearty meals while your sick you will never recover and never get your strength back, where as in the US we look at the stomach flu as a reason to eat nothing but broth and saltines. Anyway, I’m much better now and was able to sneak the food to my cat and neighbors without anyone knowing so at least somebody ate like a king.

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