. OnHiatus.com > Journal 1 > Day Index > Journal Entry: October 23, 1998

Friday, October 23, 1998
Bamako, Mali
Mali's Flag

Bamako, Mali:
Latitude: 12° 36' 45" North
Longitude: 7° 57' 26" West
Altitude: 839 feet
From Seattle: 7316 miles
Lodging: Hotel - Hôtel Le Naboun

Today's Travel:
Country: Mali
Region: Western Mali
Weather: Partial Sun

Click on map to Zoom in...
Trip Stats to Date:
Day: 561
Linear Dist: 127252
Countries Visited: 39
Regions Visited: 160
More stats...
Hotels: 165
Friends / Family: 155
Camping: 43
Hostels: 141
Transit: 50
Other Lodging: 6
Beers: 1998

Journal Entry:
Woke up still feeling a little off so I started reading up. From Lonely Planet - Africa on a Shoestring: "Symptoms, which may subside and recur, include headaches, fever, chills and sweating.... [or] a vague feeling of ill health..." The Rough Guide - West Africa adds that symptoms "...come in waves, usually beginning in the early evening." The Rough Guide also says that if you get malaria you will know it, while the Lonely Planet says to "... seek examination immediately if there is any suggestion of malaria." The last two nights I've had headaches, a fever, sweating (in an A/C room, and chills starting around dusk, the rest of the day I've just felt not right. None of the symptoms are very extreme (101° F is the highest temp I've seen and usually it's just under 100°), but the reading, and the realization that it's Friday so doctors offices are going to be closed for the next two days has me a bit spooked. So I'd like to get a malaria test done - today.

The other thing I must do is get money since I won't be able to do that over the weekend either (and I'm going to need some to pay for the hotel, not to mention a doctor). I head to town go to the bank to get a cash advance on my visa card - they take the card, fill out the paper work and tell me to come back in an hour. I decide to walk to the U.S. Embassy and ask for a recommendation for an English speaking doctor. The marine on duty at the reception desk is a guy I met the night I came into town and went to the bar with the Peace Corps group, so I say hi and spend a few minutes talking to him then tell him I want to talk to someone about recommending a doctor. He gives me an embassy pass and sends me to the medical unit it the compound across the street - this more than I expected. In the medical unit they give me a form to fill out which I immediately realize I can't because I don't have a embassy number or belong to one of the organizations listed (though Peace Corps is listed). I explain to the nurse that I'm just a tourist, she explains that I can't be there, I explain that I just want a doctor recommended, and she gives me the address and schedule of a doctor who works part time at the embassy. She then realizes that he's about to get off at the embassy and introduces me to him. He has the blood taken and tells me to come back at three for the test results.

What has happened is that the marine just assumed (or maybe decided to assume to be nice to me) that I was Peace Corps since he met me with a Peace Corps group, that got me to the medical unit, there the doctor just wanted to get the test taken care of so he did it, in short I score. I also mentioned to the doctor I was short of Larium and asked where I could buy it in Africa. He told me that it wasn't available outside of America (although the travel clinic at home had told me I'd be able to restock in South Africa) but he'd see if he could find some for me.

I went and had lunch, checked my email, and came back to the embassy at three. The results were negative! And the doctor had left me his home number should I need it, and asked me to come back on Monday to see about Larium. So not only did I get the blood drawn at the embassy facility (which I find a lot more trustworthy that a random West African doctor's office) but I didn't get charged for the blood work. It's possible that I'll get a bill when I go back Monday, but either way I still prefer the way it worked out to what I was planning on happening.

On the down side I still don't know what's wrong with me, but like I said it fairly low key so I think my body can take care of it. Meanwhile I am going to take it very easy. I spent the rest of the day out of the heat in the air-conditioned internet cafe. While I was in the medical unit I checked my weight. I'm at 84 kg (184 lbs) that's with all my clothes and shoes on. I don't think I've weighed that little since high school. Looking in the mirror I don't look bad, most of it seems to be fat that's missing, but I still went and had a huge dinner before heading home to bed. I've also decided to stay in the more comfortable hotel (though much more expensive, 15 times more so than the Peace Corp dorm), until I feel better.

I had an amazing thing happen of the taxi ride home, or rather not happen, the car didn't break down or even stall once. Seriously the last time I can remember being in a taxi that didn't at least die once was in Dakar on the way to the gare routiér, over a month ago - and I take taxis daily. The strangest thing is how quickly this has become unremarkable. So unremarkable that when I find a taxi that does what it's supposed to do I'm amazed. Of course on the other hand the driver had stop for directions twice, despite the fact that I knew where we were going.

Related Sites:
CNN: Current Weather in Bamako
US State Department Consular Information Sheets: Mali
CIA World Fact Book: Mali

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