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Thursday, April 15, 2010

Zund Typhoid


I think I will begin by posting a wise proverb that sums up my life right now:

“When different people behold a glass of water, the optimist says the glass is half-full; the pessimist says that the glass is half empty. However, the Peace Corps Volunteer says ‘Hey look! A bath!’”

Not quite sure where this quote came from or who to credit it to, it’s all over the other Peace Corps Blogs. I like it though. I was thinking about it this morning after I showered with a bucket of cold water, which is one step down from my usual “bucket and warm teapot” routine. It amazes me that things I would never dream of doing (let alone enjoying) back home I do almost every day here in Morocco. Hot showers and comfortable beds (or any beds) seem surreal even though it’s only been a month and a half since I left them all behind. I can’t remember what it’s like to be entirely clean, or healthy for that matter.

This last week has been hard, although I knew it would be stressful, since we are in the final countdown before our site assignments—in 4 days. It was supposed to be a week of hard language study before we were introduced to our final sites and host families; if all went according to plan. Ha. While I had a pretty upbeat Easter Sunday, the first one in my entire life when I was unable to attend a church service, and I felt good about my progress in language and life in general, it is the last day I can remember feeling healthy. My week started with a bad reaction to a beesting accompanied by intestinal distress of which I will spare you the details. The sting went away after 3 days of vigorous medicating my the Peace Corps Medical Officer but my gastric ills continued and were soon joined by a low fever and a mind-blowing headache which, after 48 hours, was finally cause enough for me to get picked up and taken back to Ouarzazate in the back of the Peace Corps landcruiser.

Riding through the city, feeling sick and looking out over the press of people, vehicles, and livestock, helped me realize just how far from home I really was. The doctor informed me, via translator, that I had a nasty intestinal infection “most like, and related to, Typhoid Fever”. I suddenly felt even farther from home, help, and all things friendly. Typhoid? I mean, I didn’t actually have Typhoid, but the name is legendary enough that it’s still scary to have one its relatives. Anyway, to make a long story short, I was put on another round of drugs, including a focused antibiotic, and am slowly recovering. All that’s left now is a barely discernible pain behind my eyes and a heavy, blanketing fatigue. Today, two years feels like an awfully long time. But I know it’s not and this kind of physical and emotional harrowing is what I signed up for. I also accept that I will likely go through far worse and far nastier before I service is up. But after you have been sick and exhausted for a full week, the voice of reason seems less, well… reasonable.

But hey, how about some good things about my week? Despite my illness, I only missed one day of class and I haven’t fallen nearly as far behind as I anticipated I would. While I was sick I finished two books. My host family has been wonderful although I bet they are convinced that Americans never eat after being around me. One night after being asked by my Language Teacher if they could fix me a small bowl of salted white rice for dinner that night, I realized to my dismay that they had prepared the same bland dish for the entire family and nothing else. I felt guilty and ill. Today is my off day and they let me sleep in for most of the morning without disturbing me. I am quite grateful to have them as my caretakers, but am carefully ignoring the fact that one they are also my personal “vectors” as well. If anyone remembers how Typhoid Fever and its relations are transmitted, you will understand what I mean by this. In other good news, my family’s cat had kittens and there are now two little furballs curled up in the storage room off the courtyard. They are adorable, their eyes aren’t even open yet.

So, this first low spot as been survived and will help me deal with the next one which I am sure will not be long in coming. Four more days and I find out my final site! I will post it when I find out.

Also important: I will be getting my new P.O. Box Next week. If you want to continue writing to me (or start!) then email my father for the new P.O. Box sometime before the end of May. They’ll be returning letters to sender from the Rabat address in June. Until I know more, I hope all is well in the states!