West African Memories – The Conclusion Part One

Hi folks. Well, today my series on my 2006 trip to West Africa begins to wrap up, this being the penultimate post. After leaving my readership hanging (never to happen again!) in Bobo Diolosso in mid-February 2006, I was home early March and yet didn’t post until the second half of May to tell the tale of what had happened to me over a series of five blog posts. Today I bring you the first three of those.

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Monday, May 22, 2006

An African Conclusion Part One

Well this is a turn up for the books isn’t it??? It sure bloody is.. a post after… well god it’s so long i won’t measure time.
So what the hell did happen to me??
What I am planning to do on this blog, is over the next week or two complete the story of my Africa adventure in little pieces…. then who knows. I guess some more photos can be uploaded, I can talk about other travel experiences and what I am up to….
For instance, I am trying to write me a book about my travels in 2004. If only I knew something about writing and publishing a book…. anyways –

Well, last time you joined us I believe i was in Bobo-Diolasso, a rather hot city in Burkina Faso. I am at home now, so a lot has gone on since then.
Well those days were rather dark. I hopped on a bus one day in February and was on my way to the next country, Mali. Fifteen minutes into the journey though I was feeling awfully sick. The bus stopped at a police check point, and I pulled the pin on the journey and decided to return to Bobo. I was helped onto a bush taxi like affair and bundled back to my hotel where the room had just been cleaned and I checked in again.
Then things got really bad. I have had a bad experience with Mefloquine before, also known as Larium. The doctor in Banfora has prescribed it to me to fight the Malaria, and being in a delirious state with fever i didn’t even notice what i was taking, and once I did notice, well, I figured I should keep taking it as Malaria is a fucking serious sort of disease. Well this was the day I started to pay for taking the Mefloquine. I had a serious and lasting anxiety attack.
I didn’t know where to turn. I spent time mindlessly using the internet and sending emails to my parents. There were some Aussies who had arrived at my hotel and I asked for help, but they really seemed freaked out by me, or didn’t want me to cut into their group.
I stayed there for a couple more days, and decided I was going to get out of Africa and get to Europe. A nice guy I met at the internet cafe took me to see his brother who was a Doctor. I was at the point where i had a searing pain in my stomach, and swallowing even water was really hard for me. This coupled with nausea and anxiety was not a good combination. And I was still getting really hot at night as the fever hadn’t died down.
The Doctor didn’t really examine me, he listened to my story translated in French by my friend known as ‘Web’. He said I still had the malaria, and prescribed something for that (not Mefloquine) and something for the stomach he thought was from the malaria also.
I struggled to eat half of my dinner that night, whilst an American couple talked to some others who had just arrived here on another table. I had bought my ticket back to Ouagadougou for the next morning, and I went off to bed, hoping for some sort of sleep….


The Grand Mosque at Bobo-Diolosso.

The Grand Mosque at Bobo-Diolosso.

THOUGHTS: I think I mentioned the bus to Mali last week. Strangely I have reasonably vivid memories of these days, but I don’t have an actual sense of how long I was there. I guess I was in Bobo-Diolosso for around 3-4 nights in the end. I didn’t talk about my swallowing issue – after arriving in Bobo I started to have a pain somewhere in the bottom of my throat that made swallowing incredibly hard. It was as I said, dark days.


Wednesday, June 07, 2006

An African Conclusion Part Two

So yes continuing on….. how is everyone by the way?? hope you’re all well!

After a night where i woke up at 3am having a huge panic attack then being sick i concluded that the drugs given to me for the stomach pains may not be great. I was learning the hard way about African medicine. SO much fun.
Well, i woke up early that morning at about 7am and couldn’t sleep. There was an early bus at some point back to Ouagadougou and i was determined to make it. I dragged myself back to the bus station again and hopped on a big, comfortable air-conditioned bus, the likes of which i hadn’t seen yet in Africa.
I also met a nice American lady who had incidentally been at the restaurant i was at the previous evening. She’s living in Burkina Faso and must have been sent by God to save me from this experience i was having… finally a little support had arrived. Thanks again!
Well that bus journey was hell.. truly as bad as i could have imagined. I had anxiety and a sick stomach and it just took forever. I had my Ipod on me which helped a little, but i still don’t know how i survived.
Well i had been trying to choose between just flying to Europe or getting medical help, and with my new friend i chose the latter.
I went to a medical clinic that sees westerners frequently and spoke with a doctor who actually speaks English. Quite a relief!
Before i knew it though, he was admitting me into hospital, they were taking loads of blood from me and it looked like i would be there for quite some time. He believed i still had malaria and perhaps some other problem. I had a bed though in a room with another guy who was from Cote D’Ivoire, and also had an air conditioner. So wasn’t too bad.
My hospital stay had begun…

Statue in Bobo of two men holding up Burkina Faso

Statue in Bobo of two men holding up Burkina Faso

THOUGHTS: Without the help of a new found friend I may have descended into complete madness at some point. Interestingly, I had gone to the US consulate’s website (for Burkina Faso) and they had recommended this hospital as one where English was spoken and the quality was good, as it was. The main doctor there was very kind and spoke excellent English. They did a range of tests on me and ordered me food from the local restaurant. The swallowing issue turned out to be another infection, possibly received at the Banfora hospital because I was pretty venerable with the malaria.


Tuesday, June 20, 2006

An African Conclusion Part Three

My week in hospital was, well, relaxing at times, at others not so relaxing.
That was when i would wake up having an anxiety attack as a reaction from Mefloquine initially used to treat the malaria when i was in Banfora. The clinic was clean and some of the staff friendly. One nurse on nightshift wasn’t though which didn’t help my anxiety. I felt i was about to burst at one point.
My new American friend came and visited me as did a couple of other i had met, and they found i had an infection on top of the malaria and began to treat that as well. a week on a drip = fun fun fun.
Eventually i was let out told i was totally better. The stomach was still very delicate though, but at least i was able to eat now. I had dropped some twelve kilos since i left Australia (and I’ve only put four on since which im happy about).
The person i met from the US took me in and i stayed with her and her husband, they are missionaries and really nice warm friendly people. I was lucky again. Eating wasn’t so great, but i got to visit the ‘American Club’ where lots of ex pats visit for a good meal.
I sorted out a flight to Paris but couldn’t book online Paris to Melbourne as the connection was too darn slow. I decided to go to Paris and see what happens from there to go home.
I went shopping too and bought some material, but i was quite exhausted and returned back to the house.
I started to get my belongings together – i had booked a flight out that night!!!!!

and yet again to be continued…

Back in Ouagadougou.

Back in Ouagadougou.

THOUGHTS: Yes I remember the American club and the kind family that took me in. I had to book the flight at the Air France office to fly out of Burkina Faso, internet was just too slow to complete transactions. After reading this entry, I’m very sure that I write a lot better now than I did then!

So next week will be the last in series. May the Journey Never End!

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