Sunday, 14 February 2016

Kigali Cough

Morning everybody, from my beautiful papaya tree.

It has been a madly productive couple of weeks. I promised I'd spend more time writing this year, and have managed to add a nifty 10,000 words to my latest novel over the past four days. Also been to Immigration, to try to find out why 'Author' is on their Occupations in Demand List (ODL) in the hopes it may lead to work. Set up an editing operation and even found time to drink cocktails with Jo.

Cheezy hello - reunited with my program logistics manager, Vincent. Lots of beer and Bond 7 on the porch whilst catching up. In order to write more, I've declined a second contract with the human rights organisation I was working with last year. Bit of a scary prospect having no guaranteed income at the moment, but it's a temporary state of affairs (I hope)! My friend Maja, who was Program Assistant last time, will be taking up the reins with Vincent this year.

He's helping me to find a new mosquito net for my spare room. The old one seems to have gone walkabout - or been swapped for another room. 

Don't get me wrong. I am extremely grateful to the lady who rented my house whilst I was away. I could never have afforded to go home for so long if she hadn't, but I seem to have acquired  a spare cow poo painting (tradition art - very pretty), an old pair of shoes and a bag of clothes, and lost three books (upsetting - they were good ones!), an extension lead, a set of keys, my frying pan, all of my butter knives (not the forks, or the teaspoons - just the knives) and a plunger. Really, who takes someone's plunger? Don't even want to think what that's unblocked in the past.

Ho hum. Spent money on replacement kitchen items. Getting a little fed up of T2000. It's a major Chinese supermarket in town. The restaurant upstairs is outstanding, but the shop itself is abysmal. Everyone shops there - but I have no idea why. I think because it used to be really cheap. Now the goods are still really cheap, but they cost a fortune. They sell the most unbelievable trash in there, like a hideous table with 'Merry Christmas' stickers on (looks like an ex-promotional for Coca-Cola) for over £800, or a simple glass coffee table for close to £1,000. You just know when you lift it up the legs will fall off. I've already blown up one of their extension cables simply by plugging in a kettle. It's startling to realise the pound shops in the UK sell better quality goods. Really puts the economic disparity in clear perspective.

Pause to admire amazing bug I found... 

Despite there only being a two hour time difference between Rwanda and the UK at the moment, I did struggled a bit. I think it's because it was dark by about 4pm when I left, and it gets dark at 6pm here (not to mention it had snowed in the UK and was 30c here). It meant that the moment it got dark, my body thought it was only 4pm and stayed awake. Found myself sleeping in until stupid o'clock for a full week. 

Bit better now, but only because I'm usually woken by snot. Mid-reach towards the wad of tissue stuffed down the mattress. I have the dreaded Kigali cough. It's always attributed to the dust of dry season, but I'm not convinced. Kigali has become an oasis in recent years - every inch of earth planted with ornamental shrubbery. It's reduced the dust a lot, yet still there is coughing. I reckon it's plant pollen of some sort.

I'd forgotten (as you do with things that only bother you a couple of times a year) how bad it could get: wheezing, itchy eyes, streaming nose, wet cough. I laugh when I remember my friend Hirut explaining the history of Sierra Leone, about how most of the colonists died from fever whilst the locals were unaffected, simply because their immune systems couldn't cope. But I know this affliction is indiscriminate. The day is punctuated by the sound of me and my Rwandan neighbour blowing our noses. I'm trying to harmonise. 

This morning I heard her kid coughing until he was sick. I felt so bad. Here's me with my neti pot, salbutamol inhaler and veritable pharmacy (I take a cocktail of antihistamines, 1000mg vit. C, zinc and ibuprofen before bed). I want to rush round and dose them up, but I'm horribly paranoid about handing out anything other than aspirin, in case someone has a bad reaction. 

For the first few days I was also paranoid I had malaria again - that causes coughing. There's apparently an upsurge in it (I think I joined a trend last August) because the rains didn't come as heavy this year. I would have thought more water would mean more mosquitoes (my Congolese colleague always used to say that 'rain causes malaria'), but apparently no, they thrive in dust bowls too. There do seem to be more mosquitoes about, or maybe I'm just hyper aware of them now. Having said that, I've sort of resigned myself. There isn't a whole lot you can do about it, and it really wasn't so bad - easily treated.

Anyway, first couple of weeks back - ignoring cough and pilfered books - going well. Lovely to have my own space. I'm currently doing all my own washing and dishes. I need the exercise (rather porky after the UK), so I may just call Damascene every now and then to de-dust the house and tidy up the garden. See how things go.

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