25 July 2014

The Dull Roar of a Million Peep Toads

Is what I’m listening to right now. We had a night of heavy rain and around five o’clock this morning when I got up to use the bathroom I could hear them as I passed by the window. By the time I got up later for breakfast, they were so loud we could hear them in the living room above the sound of the air conditioner. If there weren’t so many mosquitoes right now we’d be outside poking around mud puddles looking for toads and tadpoles.

But we have to be extra careful of mosquitoes right now. Africa has thrown a few challenges at us in our first week here.

First thing Monday morning Muffin and I took our anti-malaria pills. We call it Malaria Monday and take the pills with breakfast. Later that day I found out that the pills the travel clinic in Rhode Island gave us are no good here. The local malaria strain is resistant to chloroquine so we have to get on mefloquine ASAP. Unfortunately we can’t overlap the two, so we have to wait a couple more days before we can start the mefloquine, which means we are on high alert for avoiding mosquito bites. We have Deet and bed nets so we’re doing the best we can. As tempting as it is to go outside in the relative coolness after the rain, I think we need to stay away from the bugs.

I was hit with some kind of stomach thing on Tuesday. On Wednesday I felt bad enough to see the nurse at Mike’s office. I wasn’t quite sick enough for her to think I had an infection and she didn’t think I’d been here long enough for a parasite to gestate so the best she could do was treat me for dehydration, which was definitely one of my symptoms and certainly something that could lead to the other symptoms I was suffering from. For twenty-four hours I drank a horrible-tasting rehydration solution, but it seems to have done the trick. I’m not 100%, but I feel much better today than I have any other day this week. The five pounds I gained during my winter hibernation have vanished.

I’ve had some ups and downs with the housekeeper. Mostly, she’s very good and is trying hard to be helpful, but due to the language barrier and my not feeling well it’s been difficult to give her accurate instructions. I did some successful grocery shopping yesterday and tutored her in soaking dried beans and making a vegetable soup that I found appetizing, so the good meal has improved my spirits as much as anything could. To be fair, she probably knew how to make this soup already, but my French wasn’t good enough to instruct her in what I wanted, so I needed to show her exactly which vegetables, herbs, and spices to put in. I did not find the Chinese market yesterday, which is rumored to have tofu, but I think I pinpointed the neighborhood it’s in so I should be able to find it next time.

I don’t know how much coverage the airline crash in Mali is receiving in the rest of the world (because due to all the rain, the satellite isn’t working so we have no generic international or American news, only what I choose to read online). I’m glad we flew last week, though, instead of this week. The flight between Paris and Bamako was turbulent enough without landing during the thunderstorms we’re having now.

I’ll end with a few photos from the week. You can follow my photos on Instagram: http://instagram.com/stephaniesdiamond

The fire finches like to hang out in our windows.

Storm clouds on Thursday afternoon.

The view from our balcony.
There's no filter on this; it really does look like the 1970s here.

Feeding our eight parrots.

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