During my fellowship I am accompanied by a fellow Fellow, Laura MacArthur. She is working on an agricultural project as I am working on a health and sanitation project. During the last few weeks we seem to be Mazungu Magnets for shida.
Shida is a Swahili word for problem. And let me tell you Laura and I know the meaning of Shida here.
A few weeks ago Laura and I were in Nairobi, after a series of meetings falling through we decided to go to the Masai Mara, a well known safari area, known most for the wildabeast migration, and the vast views of the Rift Valley, home to many animals including SIMBA! (Lions!). The morning we are to leave, I am awoken at 3 am with the most intense stomach cramping I have ever felt. The next 3 hours were spent rushing to the bathroom with the Kenya equivalent of Montazuma's revenge. Needless to say the safari was to be delayed. Laura and I, along with our Country Director, Abdallah, pile into a car and head into town to go to the hospital. The hospital is pretty empty, and the night shift is ready to help. I have to leave a stool sample and give 3 vials of blood. Laura came back into the hospital room with me as to keep me company. The RN on duty- a guy who has little practice with English, one of Kenya's native languages, tells Laura she is the run the samples to the lab. Laura, a non medical personelle member, is to take my poop and blood to some unknown corner of the hospital... can we say WHAT? How is this even allowed to occur? Well either way she trots off with the "goodie" bag and goes to the lab. While she is gone the trusty RN fills my IV line- which he had less than zero skill putting in- 2 weeks later I still have a bruise!- with a medicine that makes my head feel like it could pop off. No warning, no nothing. I just have the strangest sensation, and when I panic because I think I'm about to stroke out the machine I'm hooked too goes haywire from my heartrate, and the RN goes, "oh you will feel funny for a minute. don't worry. hakuna shida!" WHAT! What kinda of Nurse are you--- oh right you aren't even a doctor--- great. At this time Laura arrives after a mouse maze to get to the lab. Story gets better later in the day... but basically I had a bacteria and a 104 fever! Yikes. At least it wasn't malaria- like the day doctor who came on duty was extremely worried it was.
The next day we delayed the safari again and I sat around recovering and visiting my new favorite place the bathroom- in which the toilet also had flushing issues!
Finally the safari! Laura and I are all packed up in our tourist clothes, and we are off. We get in the van to take us to the mara and about 3 hours into the drive, the van breaks down. It doesn't just sort of break down, it breaks down in the middle of no where! The only thing around are a herd of masai children who are so excited they cant stop crowding around, and trying to touch our "soft hair." needless to say the situation was less than wonderful. Another safari van rolls up, and by random chance a guy on safari is a mechanic, he climbs under the car and says that the issue is the radiator, it has a leak. He suggests taking it somewhere to get a patch, and then a driver of yet another safari van says, "oh no when we are out in the mara we use this!" He produces from a pocket an ORAL REHYDRATION SALT packet! Needless to say the mazungu with the degree was ignored and the rehydration packet was used, as Laura and I were shuffled into a different van like sardines with a church group. This set the tone for the safari. The car broke down EACH DAY we were in the mara. INcluding on the drive back home.
The following days consisted of Laura and I's tuk-tuk, a small cab that runs on a vesper's motor, breaking down and rushing into oncoming traffic, the lights at the grocery store going out when we are there- 3 times. AND a movie we went to see flickering and dying in the middle. SHIDA SHIDA SHIDA. We are now the Kenyan Queens of Shida. We should make headpieces for each event that happens, it would be enormous. One day Laura and I will document fully the shida that has happened in more epic details.