Tuesday, May 29, 2012

rickettsia, spitting cobras, 5 foot monitor lizards...

Yellow brick road doesn't have jack on Ngora, Uganda in these past couple of days.

Buzi and I have been traveling around a lot in anticipation for a week long rock-climbing camping trip that I've set up in July.  Basically, I talked too much about how many awesome boulders were in Ngora, and how I need to get out more and climb them...and eventually people started to take notice.  So there will be a kiwi and a couple other volunteers traveling down to see what we can find.  Given it is my backyard (literally), I would feel pretty weaksauce if I didn't at least TRY to find some good climbs before they got here.

Thus, everyday for the past week or so Buzi and I have been splitting on the trails and hitting the stones, trying to find boulders steep enough and with holds (yet not too many holds), slashing and grabbing everything in order to make some decent spots.  Given the beginning of the rainy season, and the high grass, and rocks being a haven for lizards, and it being the only real consistent shade Ngora's got...its pretty much the exact place snakes want to be. 

They say that when you are going through snake infested territory, you are never ever supposed to go 3rd in line.  The first guy wakes up the snake, the second guy pisses him off, and the third gets bit.  Well, for me, Buzi does a GREAT job of not only waking up everything with his extremely unique all-four-legs-3-feet-off-the-ground pounce on anything that moves in the grass....but also (I would assume) pissing them off.  I walk with a stick.  So far we've found 4 confirmed snakes, tons of skins, and tons of noises that were big enough to spook buzi and get me looking for another way around.  Nothing too serious; no crazy puff adders or anything like that.  Did see a really cool, albeit fairly immature, cobra.  The 3 or 4 footer was terrified of us, but didn't want to leave with at least showing off his sweet hoodie of a neck.  We were far enough away for me to smile and admire, and for buzi to bark like he actually wanted to attack it (which we all knew, he didn't), and for the snake to pretend like he wanted to eat us both.  The biggest one we found was something around 6 or 7 feet, but was preoccupied; when we found it he had 1/4 of a lizard hanging out of his venomous mouth. 

The same day we found the cobra, I was painting some signs for a project I have coming up, and buzi starts barking.  Always excited to see what he's found (seriously, he's better than a metal detector at the beach), I run over, instinctively saying "Get'm Buzi! Get'm."  Then I see what he's facing, and I can't help but laugh.  Silly dog has managed to greattttttly anger a 5-6 foot monitor lizard.  The thing was massive; so much more impressive than a 6 foot little baby snake.  Buzi was putting up a good front; good enough where I felt it prudent to pull him off and remind him that the lizard, not him, was boss here.  The lizard was just waiting for buzi to get close enough with his head so he could give him a good WHAP with his ridiculous tail.  After I pulled buzi away, the monitor lizard decided he'd had enough and scurried away.  Little suckers can really move when they want to.

Finally, I have been getting sick seemingly randomly for the past 5 or so weeks.  Each episode, I get night sweats, awful headache, joint pains, and just in general absolutely terrible feeling.  It reminded me a lot of malaria each time; enough to where I got tested each time it happened.  Each time it was negative, and each time it came quickly and left just as fast, after about 20 or so hours.  I have (I think) finally figured out what it is, though, despite nothing positive and a hole barrage of tests from KLA and the Peace Corps Medical Office---Rickettsia, or Tick Bite Fever.  Basically just some kind of infection you can get from Ticks here in Uganda, as well as many other parts of the world.  "It presents with malaria like symptoms, quick onsetting, ends abruptly, and comes back 2-3 weeks later."  PERFECT fit.  Even better, all I have to do is take some doxycycline (which you've probably heard of if you'd had a UTI, malaria, or just acne) which I already have at my site for a week, and it should be all gone.  Beauty!  Last thing I wanted was to get one of those episodes when I make it back stateside in a few weeks.

Whats That!  Coming BACK in a few weeks?  That's right!!!  If you are in the NYC, DC, or NC areas in June, let me know.  Meeting some old friends and fraternity members in NYC, coming to attend and celebrate my brother's wedding in DC (!!!), and then going all over NC to see people, eat food, and in general just enjoy life.  Would love to catch up.  Plenty of stories to tell

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