01.05.2009 - 13.05.2009
Ah yes, Nairobi. A real big city and home to the hopes, dreams and aspirations of millions, with a burgeoning industry of carjackings, muggings, knifings and murder, at least if you believe the hype. Downtown has a reputation that few can match: even the likes of Bogota and Detroit sound like Utopian paradises in comparison to some of the tales from Nairobi.
I've never been one to trust the media and guidebook culture too much, and it seems very likely that regardless of how bad it really is, it's reputation and the scare stories/travelers tales are probably a little harsh. Having said that, the previous days paper which i read on the train detailed 3 nasty sounding carjackings (though to be fair, i'm not sure what a good sounding carjacking would sound like), I was also acutely and sadly aware that 2 acquaintances had been murdered and 3 more had been badly robbed in Nairobi within the last 8years, all in separate incidents. Thus it is safe to say that Nairobi was never high on my list of places to visit, despite it's almost utter inevitability as the main logistical hub for pretty much the whole of East Africa.
And so it was that 4hours late, feeling like utter sh1t and having not slept the previous night that you might understand that i did not greet my arrival in Nairobi with a whoop of joy. Merely a restrained dash to the toilet cubicle.
As for the utter sh1t thing, well I have been iffy on and off (more on, in terms of iffy) for coming up to 3weeks now. Never really bad, but bad enough and obvious to anybody that spent any time with me that I wasn't at 100%, shall we say. A few times i've thought of getting checked out, but later on or the following day I have been feeling better and so hadn't, hoping and relying on my ability to fight off whatever I had. But the last couple of days had been particularly bad, and I knew I could not go on. So off i trekked to a hospital with a couple of books, and vague hopes that I might be seen by a doctor at some point that week.
Some of you will be aware that at various moments of my life I have been a reasonably regular visitor to assorted medical establishments around the world for an often bizarre and unlikely serious of complaints or breaks. As a youngster, I was not brought up on GMT at all, but rather on NHS time, a strange thing which is so complicated that it distorts the time-space continuum and can't even be understood by Stephen Hawking. But in vague terms based on what my long experience has shown me, it apparently utilises times from every world timezone in the same day as a way of finding more hours in the day and ensuring patients (eg: me) wait as long as physically possible to be dealt with whilst not being late (why are you complaining that your 2pm appointment is several hours late? it's barely 1pm in Bolivia...). Even BRST – see a previous blog entry on Zambia for that one – is wonderfully punctual and efficient in comparison. Thus it was that my expectations were low.
So I was delighted that barely 8hours later, having sh1t in things i was supposed to sh1t in (or not supposed to on occasion), given enough blood to feed the Transylvanian population until 2017, vomited a few times (just because I wanted to, damned it) and paid at least three times - alongside the inevitable selection of form filling, registering at countless desks, long waits and occasional confusion – and with the search parties sent out to find me, I was the proud recipient of 3 lots of drugs i've never heard of, a long list of do-nots and a warning not to leave Nairobi before more test results come back in a few days. It made me feel all nostalgic: I haven't been told not to leave somewhere in such firm terms since, erm, well... that's another long story which perhaps should be left in history.
And what was the diagnosis? Erm. Dunno, really. They agreed that I definitely have something. And they don't know what, and don't want to guess. Except that they did guess and was told some disease i've never heard of that it was 6words long – none i've ever heard before – or, failing that, possibly typhoid (typhoid?! As Maaret so succinctly put it “who the hell gets typhoid?”). But it might not be either. They don't want to guess.
Ah yes, the wonders of travel. Now i truly do feel as if i'm in Africa.