Sunday, February 17, 2008

WC: Tanzania, Here I Come

Thursday, I leave for Africa.

Preparing for the trip has been a trip. Six shots, a bunch of prescription drugs, buying safari clothing, etc, etc. I've had six instances of doing tons of research, finally making a decision, ordering something on line, and then being told they're out of it--or I get it and it doesn't fit--or it's the wrong item. (My co-traveler Andrea has had similar experiences. I finally asked her if we could get to Africa by running in circles.) But the preparation, while not quite done, is on track, which is all a person could ask.

We're changing planes in Nairobi in both directions, and we agree that if we're going to be kidnapped and/or murdered in the midst of all the fighting there, it damn well better be on the way home! (I also prefer, should something go wrong, that I be killed by a good-looking animal like a lion or cheetah, rather than a hyena or person.)

I'm excited, and getting more so by the moment. Every once in a while, I burst out to whomever I'm with, even if it's only me: "I'M GOING TO AFRICA!!!"

My sister is vacillating between envy and relief she's not going. Like when I explained why I had to get bland colored bandanas: Bright colors attract animals; dark colors attract tsetse flies. And did I mention the scorpions?

When I was taking anthology classes, I was talking to one of my profs, who had done much in-the-jungle research. He said that while there are way more insects in South America, Africa has more things that can kill you.

Which reminds me of an explanation Andrea was reading to me about snakes in Africa.If a snake is longer than a meter and a half, it's probably dangerous. If it has a diamond or triangular-shaped head, it's probably dangerous. It it has stripes or bands on the head, it's probably dangerous. If it's rearing up at you, it's probably dangerous. (Luckily, the vast majority of our trip happens in a vehicle.)

This may sound completely perverse, but I'm actually looking forward to being bitten by a tsetse fly. I mean, how exotic can you get?

The only challenges I face are my claustrophobia in the endless airplane rides, my insect phobia, my limited camping experience (ie, none), my fear of water (we're snorkling), and my extreme reluctance to bare my butt in public to go to the bathroom in nature (which I've never done). But beside that, it should be a peace of cake.

And oh, the things I'll see!

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