I admit, I am feeling un poco social-activity fatigued these past 24 hours. For those of you who know my social habits this may not come as a total surprise. It is not the social activity itself which is the difficulty, but more the effort associated with constantly meeting new people who come from all kinds of different backgrounds and who in ordinary circumstances, you may not necessarily spend a huge amount of time with.
Yesterday afternoon included a further trip into town which although enjoyable I did feel somewhat stifled by the group and method of travel (private bus) as to what I could and could not do. To me, the town appears safe – within the market, locals touted for business as one would expect in any other country. The purpose of our group’s visit had been to view a local jewellery exhibition which was to take place from the weekend until yesterday. However when we arrived no jewellery or exhibits were to be seen, and on enquiry we were advised that the people conducting the exhibit had simply not turned up today (although they had previously been there over the weekend). I was not bothered by this given that the exhibition was more an excuse for me to go to town than anything else – and so the relaxed vibe of the fact that the jewellery people had just not turned up was reflected in my blase reaction. As it was when I relayed the story to many back in the compound – the reaction being “that’s typical EG” – not dissimilar to our previous attempt at hiking in the island’s south only to be informed on arrival that we were not able to enter the jungle as a traditional event was being conducted. No point getting upset about it!
However, the lack of exhibition did mean that we were then present in town during the siesta hours – where the majority of shops (including the supermarkets) were closed until at least 4pm. I would have been content to wander around – particularly the markets which were open and busy but of course was slightly restricted by the whims of the group. We did however, stop for coffee at the French Patisserie – decent coffee but otherwise a fairly sanitised place (which of course was the reason for going there – no risk of ordering bush meat or getting sick!). The intention is of course to have more trips into town once the husband’s local driver’s licence is issued…whenever that may be! I then have great hopes of wandering through markets and going out for dinner at the multitude of restaurants present throughout town!
Back in the compound, I have now received the golf cart provided to all “spouses” of company employees in which I am free to hoon around the compound. Although I did scoff when the husband initially told me I would receive a golf cart (“to drive around in as wifey”) prior to my arrival here, (where, exactly, would I be driving to??) it is in fact a huge benefit. It means I am now able to drive myself to Spanish classes (now sadly postponed until after Christmas) rather than relying on the kindness of other ladies, and that I was also able to drive myself to the compound clinic and pharmacy yesterday morning to collect my next bundle of Malarone pills.
It is a company requirement that the husband and I take anti-malaria pills every day we are here, and in fact, I believe it may even be a term of the husband’s employment. Notwithstanding that I do not recall signing any documentation agreeing to take the pills (and so the question of whether the company may compel me to do so remains unanswered) I am taking them, and am (relatively) happy to do so. This is due to the mosquitoes love of my blood – why is it that I am always so popular in this way when others are not! Some staff here are opposed to taking the pills (they have been described as “pesticides”) but for now I will continue to comply with the requirement rather than embracing the risk. Locals of course, do not need to take the pills as they have been exposed to the virus since birth and as such are pretty much immune.
The main health risk here as far as I can tell is the malaria. When we first made the decision to come to this place, and communicated to others in Oz that we were moving to “West Africa” (I have since learned that we should have described it as “Central Africa” to avoid overreaction!) the first response was often concern about the Ebola virus. As we are no longer in Oz, I cannot comment about current media concerning the topic, however, based on my experience back in Oz and since moving here I suspect that the disease was somewhat over-hyped. Not over-hyped in the sense that it isn’t an epidemic, life-threatening and obviously very serious, but more so regarding transmission of the disease and an assumption that the entire continent of Africa must be infected or at risk. My feelings of course may change, but currently I feel completely at ease with the disease within EG. We are on an island and therefore only accessible by air. The island does not accept flights from the infected countries. Upon landing at the airport, passengers (including myself) are scanned with an infra-red camera to detect if they have a fever – and if so, those passengers will be quarantined. The compound community is Westernised – generally the disease spreads due to inadequate health and medical practices. This is not to say that the island or other parts of the continent may be infected in the future – as indeed was the case in the US (and when this occurred the disease was contained) but for now, I am comfortable and my main concern, apart from Malaria, is the heat rash.
Yes, heat rash! Not something I had expected to suffer from prior to arrival. And if my research is anything to go by, it seems that my excessive gym use in humid conditions, resulting in exorbitant amounts of sweat, manifests in a nasty heat rash under the arms and between the legs. So, yes, we have purchased talcum powder for me to use on the affected areas as a preventative measure (something I have not used for close to 20 years) and so far, I have only had to sleep with a pack of frozen veggies between my legs on one occasion! Hoping that the body acclimatises in due course…