Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Mr. Tom's (and Amy's) Wild Ride

Continued from yesterday's post:

About an hour into the bus ride Tom mentioned that he really didn’t feel well at all. He’d had a cold for about a week and while it followed the normal route of colds and he was getting better he had started having a sore throat and was sweaty all the time. I had suggested malaria but he didn’t think so. Now, on the bus I had no doubt of it. I felt his head and sure enough he had a fever. I pulled some Tylenol out of my bag and promised to buy malaria medicine when we reached Lusaka.

Malaria is like a bad flu. Every joint aches, your head and back hurt especially. Sore throats are common. And some people get nausea as well. Not the sort of state you want to be in on a long, crowded bus ride. Poor Tom was pretty miserable as his body went through cycles of fever and chills and then sweating which left him drenched. He also battled with nausea nearly the whole way down. Aside from handing him Tylenol every few hours and making sure he had a hole-free bag handy there wasn't much I could do to help.

At around eleven at night we pulled off to the side of the road for a quick stop. The local fisheries authorities had to search the bus for fish since it is illegal to fish commercially right now.--There is an annual 3 month ban. While they did this many of us jumped off the bus for a ‘potty break’. I made my way through tall grass on a narrow, muddy path to a tiny brick building (room) which had a hole in the center of it. In the light of my little headlamp I could see the building was infested by ants. I tried to steer clear and took no more than 20 seconds (maybe less) to ‘take care of business’.

photo of a 'toilet' taken during the day

As I made my way back to the bus I quickly realized that 20 seconds may still have been too long as I felt the tell tale signs of ants in my pants—literally. I began hopping and stamping my feet trying to shake them all loose and pulled up my pant legs to try to dislodge some. This was wildly entertaining for the people standing around including a group of vendors (yes, even that late at night) who giggled at my predicament. I was less than amused as the ants had found their way up my shirt by now and short of stripping down in front of about 100 strangers (not an option) I was in for an uncomfortable time. I glared at the ladies mocking my fate and they mistook it for interest in their products. “Would you like to buy our mushrooms?” Yeah, not likely!! Thankfully, aside from a few bites I was ok.

After hours of agony (mostly for Tom) we reached Lusaka at 4 o’clock in the morning. Having texted ahead earlier in the day to let our friends know we were on our way we hailed a taxi and headed to their home. Most houses in cities in Zambia are surrounded by tall brick walls to keep out thieves. When we got to our friends’ house we honked the horn and called again and finally our friend came to the gate. As we walked inside we noticed that there was an extra car parked inside.
“Oh, do you have visitors ?”
“Why, yes, we do. Several actually.”
So, it turned out they didn’t have any extra beds. Normally these friends are wonderful hosts—somewhere the lines just got crossed.

So, here it was, 5 AM, Tom was unsteady on his feet, and we had no where to sleep. We just turned around and walked back out the gate. About 2 blocks away there was a guesthouse. We hoped they would have room for us and started walking. Our friends’ two dogs followed us down the road, which didn’t really improve our mood. Thanks be to God, after banging on the gate of the guesthouse and rousing the night watchman, we found out they had rooms available and collapsed gratefully on a bed.

Tomorrow: I Can’t Believe We Did That


  1. Sounds miserable but wildly entertaining.

    Thank you and I'm sorry.

  2. Gail was looking over my shoulder at the toilet picture taken by day... she remarked about how shocking it was that they stole the toilet. I explained that I think that WAS the toilet! --just in the daytime... oh my, she just about choked! Ha! God is really going to bless you for all you have to go through.

  3. Joanne, it's not so far fetched that toilets would be stolen though. In some of the places that do have a real toilet they have cemented the entire bowl to the floor so it looks like a volcano and the tank is encased in a metal cage. It's crazy!

  4. Yikes. Ants in the pants. Yuck. I hope Tom is feeling better.



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