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Saturday, March 30, 2013

No Butti Seeda? (Are you better?)

Local butcherie
 ** Disclaimer: Some contents are not for the weak of stomach**

Some days the hilarity of the universe is hard to believe. Yet every morning I continue to wake up and find myself living in West Africa. I’ve finally moved into a new place—a cozy one-room house with a porch in a compound with a family. It’s been a shift from my old too-big for me mansion. I’ve got a nice outside pit latrine and then a separate outside room for showering—a good way to keep all the bugs and smells far away from me.

Bathroom on the left, home on the right
Now that I’m no longer homeless and am back in action Timbi Tounni is slowly but surely becoming my home. It’s a great feeling to be on a first name basis with the woman I buy oranges from and to have running jokes with the local chauffer.  I never cease to be amazed that I can effectively communicate with people in not only my second but also third language, some times anyway. By making a public spectacle of myself running through Timbi, I’ve developed a following of petites that join me on my nightly rendezvous. All of us do the four-mile loop through the community forest and back down the main road in town. Everyone thinks it’s a ridiculous site; I’m inclined to agree.

However, it hasn’t all been roses this month. After visiting the doctor in Labe and taking a round of treatment, I still continued to see worms.  Days of denial later I finally picked up the phone and called the Peace Corps medical staff.  To my dismay, they said before they’d send me more meds I needed to send them photos. So, like it or not, I took photos of my intestinal worms for the Peace Corps and e-mailed them away.  The next day staff confirmed my fears; I had a tapeworm.  I took additional meds and thought my troubles were finally over, but sure enough a week later the worms persisted. Calling the medical staff near tears we agreed I needed to visit Conakry for further testing.

After ten hours in a taxi the last thing I wanted to talk about was intestinal worms, but sometimes life doesn’t give you a choice.  The next morning I handed over stool and blood for testing to finally identify my bodymates and make sure I’m not anemic or infected with other random parasites. The whole ordeal was pretty ridiculous. Only in Peace Corps Guinea are parasites dinner conversation.

The guilty party
The next day the results came in. The culprit you ask? Who are those demons living within my bowels?

In short, there is absolutely NOTHING wrong with me. None of the above. It turns out that after that long, long ordeal of battling worms, they were never there to begin with (or got wiped out in the first two rounds of meds). The mysterious worms I’ve been seeing for weeks are in fact undigested potato peels! What?! If that’s not a hilarious Peace Corps story, I don’t know what is.

One more month to go until another major Peace Corps milestone: In-service Training. Two weeks of reconnecting with other G23 volunteers, sharing project ideas, and learning new skills. Should be a blast. In the meantime I’ll stay busy meeting gardening groupments, studying Pular (the local language), trying new recipes, and transforming my house into a home.
Moringa ollifera. The miracle tree (look it up)