Heather in Senegal

Monday, June 19, 2006

June 5, Monday
The computers at the internet cafe all have French keyboards. The main differences for me lie in the placement of the A, M, W, and punctuation marks. I type most of these entries from home, and it is in typing on my american laptop that I realize how well I have adapted to the new keyboard layout. Thankfully, both the French and the English put their delete buttons in the same place.
Yesterday I had my first good bout of sickness in Senegal. I had been dreading it. It began in the morning with a stomach ache and an unusually keen desire to stay in bed. By the time I reached the garden it had matured into a pain that kept me from wanting to stand up straight. After stumbling around the garden for about thirty minutes, I reasoned that Sek would respect me more if he knew I had come to work when sick than if he just thought I was being remarkably lazy, so I told him I felt horrible and was going home. I then biked to the regional house, acutely aware of each pothole and each minor lump in the sand. I spent the day curled up on one bed or another, reading, wishing I could sleep, and crawling to and from the sit down toilet. Other than breakfast, I could not eat anything yesterday. This turned out to be a blessing; when the puking began I was very glad to have only liquid in my belly.
There were three other volunteers coming in and out of the house, and they were kind to me, bringing me cold drinks and oral rehydration salts, and distracting me with conversation and Scrabble.
After the sun set and I still felt too sick to bike home, I called my host mom to say I would be spending the night at the regional house. Successfully conducting that conversation without my usual crutch of charades was the highlight of my day. She wished me well and told me to come home in the morning. About an hour later, as I was walking outside to go to the kitchen where I thought I would find the key for the house medicine cabinet, she appeared in the yard. She had had a neighbor accompany her to the regional house so that she could see me. Sweet woman. I am liking her more all the time.
In the night I got sulfuric tasting burps, spent much of the time I could not spend sleeping praying, and now feel better. May all my sicknesses be so easy. I still have not eaten anything, and I am feeling clean and healthy. In the strange world of Senegal, which feels even more odd than usual, having spent the past day in the company of toubobs and deep in two novels, it almost seems possible that I should be able to pass two years without eating. What a pleasure it would be to avoid eating traces of animals, amoebas, parasites, and grease, and just maintain this clear present feeling. But my host mom has some bread and butter for me, and as soon as I finish typing I suspect I will wolf it down.


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