The Ten Plagues – Uganda Style

Blood
We are four girls sharing rooms and bathrooms. Blood, in its monthly form, is a plague. I won’t elaborate.

Frogs
Besides  a few squished frogs in the road and some distant croaks, frogs haven’t been a big part of my experience. Snails, however, fall into the same slimy category, and they are around.

Snails have a good eye for real estate. They live on the banks of the stunning Lake Victoria – along with me. And along with schistosoma. Those tiny parasites hang out on the snails until they get bored, at which point they find the nearest human (hereafter referred to as “you”) and then penetrate your skin. Once settled inside your inner organs, they decide to grow up. And so, feeling quite comfortable and at home, the parasite develops into a baby, into a teenager, and into a full-grown-big-momma-real-live worm! Once the worm is ready to “find himself” he embarks on journey through your liver and intestines and wherever else he fancies. If he wants to be really adventurous, he will try to leave your body. The same way those beans and rice just did.

Bilharzia, snail fever and schistosomiasis are big names for medium problems caused by little creatures. But I’d rather not have too many Latin names inside my body, which can only be treated using other Latin names. And so I don’t swim in the lake, and am putting off whitewater rafting for now, at least until the scariness of the article I just read wears off.

Lice

Seems like lice have less of an eye for real estate than snails do. For some reason, lice have found charm in small, tall plot of land otherwise known as My Head. They think it’s paradise, and they’ve invited all their friends.

I would like to blame my curly haired roommate, shower-sharer, business partner and sitter-next-to-in-any-smushed-mode-of-transportation but it really doesn’t matter anymore. We are both in this together, and we want one thing. Death to the lice! We are both vegetarians who are trying to save the world, but every idealist has her limits.

When she broke the news to me about the cause of her scratching, I wanted to cry. Because if she had it, I had it, and if I had it, but didn’t have a comb or my mommy, there was no way I was going to get rid of it.

I picked up the phone and put on my best two-year-old, whiny voice. My mother, somewhat calmer than myself, advised me on all the latest lice zapping technology – did you know that conditioner stuns the lice? And that heat kills them?

Helpless and afraid, I did everything she told me (except for sitting in a sauna, which has been a little tricky to find – you think there’s one behind the chapati stand?) and unfortunately I had to use my friends lice comb (I never claimed I was smart), but I am still itching occasionally. I try  to convince myself that it’s all in my head. Not ON my head.

Beasts

Have I already mentioned that we are four girls, trying to share food and lives and at the same time maintain our sanity? The word “beasts” often seems like an understatement – but on the off chance that one of my roommates will ever look at my blog,  I’ll stop here.

This doesn't exactly capture the idea

Diseased Livestock

Well, there are slabs of meat hanging from numerous vendors along the road, but since I haven’t eaten any I don’t know if they are diseased. But I wouldn’t be surprised.

Boils

That leg is mine. Those hairs are not.

Thunder and Hail

People have been scaring me about the rainy season in Uganda for such a long time. I have my rain jacket, my rain pants and am emotionally prepared for rain, not an easy task for a sun-loving Israeli.

So far, though, it’s been sunny and gorgeous (except for one day with rain and hail, I am not kidding although I assume you won’t believe me). But I am sure it will rain, probably as soon as G-d read this post.

Locusts

Mosquitos. Malaria. My life.

For the first few weeks in Africa, I did everything I could to avoid getting bitten by mosquitos (but I didn’t do much to avoid monkey bites. See previous post…). I applied bug spray religiously, I never slept without a net, and I made sure to take my anti-malaria pill every week at the same time.

But when I saw I wasn’t getting malaria, I began to neglect my duties and stray from the good path. And began to get bitten. And so it has come to pass, that 50% of my day is spent scratching my feet, my back, and wherever else those little schmucks reached. The other 50%, if you were wondering, is spent sitting in traffic and eating. Whatever is left is for Saving The World.

Darkness 

At least once a day, my home looks like a mine: a bunch of girls trying to complete tasks and find things, with Bob-the-Builder headlamps screwed on. Because about once a day, the power goes out, and we are plagued with a lack of light. Most of our inner joy is sucked out, as well.

Because imagine if after every long, crowded, polluted, third-world-country day you had to come home to a dark home, a cold shower, spoiled yogurts in the fridge and no computer.

It’s become such an integral part of life that it seems perfectly normal to me, that in order to fry an egg I will use a gas balloon, or that I will eat a candle-lit dinner by myself. Wow, I feel sorry for myself writing this.

Death of the Firstborn

Well, despite the fact that Ugandans are BEAUTIFUL, I still haven’t had any babies, and, praise the Lord, none of them has died. More about the good-looking guys later – Happy Passover readers of the world!

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