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Thursday, July 2, 2009

Africa Pre-Show 2

Here's what my withdrawals and debits usually look like:
Coffee Bean (every day) $3.65
Subway (every other day) $6.05

There's the occasional dinner and a movie, or grocery visit before a USC tailgating party, or the $35 piece of paper on my windshield, stating, "Oops, I totally forgot about the parking meter", but overall, I'm a pretty low-maintenance spender. I live with someone who works in the fashion industry, so I rarely go clothes shopping. I hang out with some of the most chivalrous guys who insist on paying for the drinks even when you're not their girlfriend, so bar bills are low.

That being said, you can hear my surprise when I checked my bank account this morning and noticed the $500 charge on Monday. Is it fraud? Oh, no. It's Africa. I had forgotten already about the vaccinations. Or maybe I had just been in denial.

Whenever I get frustrated, I write a letter to make me feel better.


I have started the malaria meds five days in advance. Okay, so it's supposed to be a full week in advance, but what's a couple of days with some infected mosquitos?

I am also officially packed:
Yes, that's a carry-on folks! WHAT NOW! 16 days smashed into a carry-on.

I love it when people hear that I'm going to Africa. They always have some sort of strange advice about Africa.

Last week, Coogan warned me about a parasite that grows underneath your skin and you have to twist it out carefully with a pencil because if you break it, you die. WHAAATT?

Someone in the coffee shop said, "Make sure you don't have your malaria medication with a grapefruit. There's something in the grapefruit that will cause your body to absorb the meds too fast and you'll O.D." WHAAATT?

As I was leaving my soccer game last night, Marisa said, "Watch out for the bikini bugs. They lay eggs in your armpits." WHAAATT?

I thought Marisa might have seen too many b-rated horror movies, but no, she's actually correct. Check out one girl's story HERE.

A fellow named Scott Bidstrup gives his advice on traveling to Nigeria. You can find his whole article HERE, but I copied and pasted the highlights.

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by Scott Bidstrup

"Never slap an insect that lands on you. Always flick it off instead. There is a curious little bug there, quite common in the evening, known as the "acid bug" that secretes a strong acid if slapped. It will cause a festering wound that will take months to heal. There is another flying, biting insect that has a hard exoskeleton and won't even be injured by the hardest slap. The only way to rid yourself of it is to flick it off. It's not common, however.

"Speaking of unpleasant insects, you should always have all your clothes (including underwear and socks), towels and bed linens thoroughly ironed after being laundered. The nasty little tumba fly that is widespread in Nigeria likes to lay its eggs on wet laundry hanging out to dry. When its eggs come in contact with your skin, they hatch out and the tiny maggots burrow into and find a fine lunch in your soft, sweet, juicy flesh. Should this happen to you, gently squeeze out the little bugger. The wound will quickly heal if the maggot comes out as one piece and the wound isn't infected. You can spot an infestation as a small sore with a tiny, festering hole on one side. Carefully squeeze your little guest out through that hole. A similar insect, the human botfly, has been reported in the south of Nigeria, but is not common. It lays its eggs on the abdomens of mosquitos, who then drop them off on you when they bite you. The eggs hatch out and burrow into your skin, where the maggot will grow to an inch or more before crawling out. They're singularly difficult to remove, and may require medical attention.

"Fungal infections are a problem, especially for the clean-shaven and especially during the rainy season. If you wake up in the morning and find a fungus growing on your face (or anywhere else, for that matter), carefully remove all the fungus you can find and apply Canesten cream to the area. Wash your hands thoroughly to avoid spreading it. This should take care of it nicely, usually within a day or two. Don't wait. Fungal infections progress with amazing speed and can quickly get out of hand if not attended to immediately. Canesten is something I never traveled without. It is widely available at any Nigerian chemist, and is quite inexpensive. The chemist may look at you a bit strangely if you're a man; the stuff is normally used by women to treat yeast infections.

"Venomous snakes are common in Nigeria and so it pays to be prepared. The spitting cobra will try to spit its venom in your eyes, and, should it be successful, you should wash your eyes quickly and thoroughly with water and seek immediate medical attention. Failure to do so can lead to blindness or death. The other, most common venomous snake is the night adder, whose bite is seldom fatal, but it will make you wish it was. It's bite is extremely painful and will take months to heal, and you'll be in agony the whole time. Green mambas like to drop out of trees and onto their victims. Always look up when walking under a tree in Africa. When bitten by any snake, apply an "ace" bandage to the affected area as tightly as you can. This will serve to immobilize the venom and will buy you time to seek medical attention. Don't do the X-cut and suck out the venom bit. The wound you create will only serve to facilitate spread of the venom, and you won't get enough out to make any difference. Besides, it will be a great entry point for all manner of unpleasant infections. Leave the X-cut bit to the movie cowboys who don't know better."

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There are a million reasons why I love America, but today, I have added to that list:
1,000,001. America's lack of fungal infections that require you to spread yeast infection cream across your face.
1,000,002. America's lack of skin-burrowing-maggots-that-grow-an-inch-long-inside-of-you
1,000,003. America's lack of snakes that spit in your eyes. First, that's just gross. Secondly, you're now grossed out AND blind.

Think of my 100,000,001 - 100,000,003 reasons to love America as you wave your American flag this Saturday surrounded by your family and friends "oohing" and "ahhing" as you watch fireworks, looking up into the freedom sky (and never once fearing that a snake will leap out of a neighboring tree to kill you.)

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