Rest Days

October 19, 2012
Rest days. We need them. Today and yesterday were such days.
Yesterday I woke up with such tremendous muscle aches that even giggling a little hurt. I immediately brought the back of palm to my forehead to check if I had a fever. I wondered if that was the kind of myalgia you get from malaria. Dammit, I thought, I should have been less flippant about that nasty DEET lotion. I barely got out of bed. I felt as if I had a day-long massage from a hard knuckled masseuse. I knew that it wasn’t a day for Insanity, and I felt bad that I would ditch my work out buddies. But, as it turned out they too were feeling the same way. The charming thing about it was that regardless, we all got up at the same time we did each morning (~0600).  L said it first—I can’t work out today. Then U said it too. So it was sealed. It was going to be a day of rest. So there we were, with one solid hour before breakfast—already spent. We each took a sofa; I on the one nearest the dining area, L on the one against the wall and U on the one nearest the door. U made it back to her bed. L and I didn’t and we both slept where we already were.
Today I woke up with a start. There was this time, something grumbling. I rushed to the restroom quick. Two times. This time I thought I was getting the cholera. Dammit, I thought, I should have washed my hands 10 seconds longer! But, as it turned out L was also having the same issues (and 8 hours later, U became another sympathizer). Though I found enough resolve to go through another P90x video with U, my yafunu (stomach) was still very uneasy. Scared that this might be my day’s annoying stalker (and agitated at the thought that if and when I would have the urge, that it would be when I’m stuck in traffic in a trotro), I deliberated on missing work. My fear of uncontrolled stomach urgings won out and I stayed home. I felt terrible for not going to work today. I was gonna go to a hospital where an HIV unit was just recently built by the NACP (National AIDS Commission Program), to inspect how it looks like and how it is run. And I was going to get the revised blueprint and quotation from the construction company.  But I just couldn’t risk it. L and I looked back on what we ate yesterday. I was convinced it was all the Ghanaian chocolate I ate along with the cupful of Sangria I pleasingly drank last night. L said it couldn’t be, because we didn’t eat much. Well, she didn’t but I did.

Made in Spain, this Sangria is excellent!

Ghanaian chocolate, so yummy

Working out, oh yea!!
There is comfort in numbers. Knowing that all three of us have been sharing the same symptoms in the same temporal sphere makes me less paranoid that what I have is malaria or cholera. Or dengue. Or some other nasty illness worthy of a Masters of Medicine presentation (‘Presenting a female who initially presented with myalgia; past social history significant for recent travel to Ghana…’). I have been wanting to drink a hot chocolate drink (they have MILO here, yay!), but I know that if I do that would be my undoing.
I don’t know why my stomach would not now withstand food challenges. It used to be, that I could eat fishballs dipped in a publicly shared sweet and spicy brown sauce without getting sick. It used to be too, that I could avidly consume taho(soft, sweetened tofu) from our good old manong,  as well as gobble the pansit (noodles with vegetables) that the store at the corner of Dapitan Street was selling (the name escapes me, but it was where the men who were preparing the noodles were naked from the waist up, beads of sweat and all). Now my stomach is such a weakling. I need to rev it up.
Red Red on the left, gari (dried cassava) on the right– an attempt to add some roughage as a leverage to the oil 

Hey, I have been trying. Lunch today was Red Red (beans cooked in red palm oil, partnered with plantains), which I consumed entirely despite knowing that when you’re having diarrhea oily food should have to wait. (Ok, so that might have been careless.)

I almost forgot to talk about the Fish and Chips we had in Lake Bosumtwe last week. The waiter at the resort said they only had beef and fish to choose from. Naturally, I chose fish. Yes!, I thought, something familiar for lunch. Difficult to mess up.

The infamous Fish and Chips with the eyes 

Well, here’s what I was served: well-fried chips (in fairness to the restaurant it was good) and um—fried whole fish. Now, now— I know how to eat fried, whole fish. In fact, that is what we in the Filipino household cook on lazy nights; but, I thought it was hilarious how they called it! Freakin’ ‘Fish and Chips.’ And poor L, she didn’t know how to eat it! (L: ‘What the?! How do I even begin to eat this thing?!’) U, who ordered beef, said ‘oh hey look it still has its eyes!’ Good thing L was hungry enough to give the fish a chance, although she did have to cover its eyes. I didn’t realize eating a fried whole fish was an acquired taste.

As today was Market day and we happen to live conveniently close to the Kasoa New Market, L and I (as soon as we felt our stomachs calm down a bit) decided to look for some fabric. We were going to decorate our drab living room. I was also going to buy one for my mom (orange and yellow, something bright she said) and maybe again, for myself. Upon arriving home from the market, we taped the fabric onto the wall with whatever tape I could find (a medical tape, designed to tape tubes and such on skin). For only a few minutes the fabric on my room held out, as did the fabric I taped on one side of our living room. The one L put up on the wall lasted there for maybe a couple of hours before entirely limping out and collapsing on the floor. It would have been beautiful on the walls. Now they are folded neatly, tucked in a black plastic bag that I am going to take home with me.

How my room looked like for 30 minutes or so

P showing off L’s fabric. This is the one that held the longest.

2 solid weeks left. Argh, I am having separation anxiety already. I have been practicing how to say ‘I will miss you. God bless you’ in Twi for when the day comes (November 2) so I can say them to D and P (our helpers in the house who hug me when I get home from work, who feel sorry if they aren’t able to serve me my hard boiled egg each morning, who offer to look for the ice cream I crave for, and who hold out my flashlight while I hang my clothes outside at night to dry).  I will say that to W too, because he never fails to ask me how I am and who is just so sincerely concerned (he also loves my curry and garlic rice). I never liked goodbyes, even though I know that all of life is a cycle of goodbyes and hellos, and that hello leads to goodbye and goodbye leads to hello.

P and D helping me cut veggies for the curry

But, the glass is always full isn’t it? I have 2 more weeks left, that is true; and you know what, each of the following days will be a celebratory party for friendship and extreme blessedness.


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