While I’m waiting for a video that I took at my site to slowly upload (stay tuned), I figured it was high time to blog about my latest and unfortunate exploits in Conakry. (This will explain my unusual amount of internet access over the past few days.)

I am currently back in Guinea’s capital, yet not really by choice. A little over a week ago, a small infection on my pinky toe was aggravated when I sustained a pretty bad foot injury while running.  My entire right foot became bruised and swollen, and my toe bulged out to three times its normal size. (It gets worse- those of you queasy readers might want to skip to the next paragraph).  I wrapped up my foot and hobbled to work that Monday anyway, but had to cut my second class short because of the pain.  By that afternoon, I could barely walk.  Tuesday, I was stuck in my house, both by direction of the Peace Corps medical officer (PCMO) and by my inability to really walk more than a few steps.  That day, my swollen toe split open in several places at several different times, leaking out various fluids. Panicked, I called the PCMO for the third time that day and was finally told to get myself to Conakry for an x-ray and to check out the infection. 

I got a taxi to Labe the next morning, but being typical Guinean public transportation, the ride had several stops and took a little longer than I expected.  I wouldn’t be able to get all the way to Conakry that day (the drive is about 7-8 hours, and as PC volunteers, we aren’t allowed to travel after dark), so I went to the regional Peace Corps house to stay the night in Labe, hoping to find transportation as early as possible the next morning.  The infection was catching up with the rest of my body, and by the time I had settled in at the volunteer house, I was also feeling disgusting and running a fever.

I was lucky enough to catch up with a few volunteers in Labe, one of which happened to mention one of her fellow teachers who was driving to Conakry the next morning.  I jokingly mentioned that he should give me a ride, but after a few phone calls, my lift was arranged! I was extremely grateful to be traveling in a private car and not a crammed, rickety, public taxi with my weird infection and painful injury. 

The ride to Conakry was long, but the couple I was traveling with was extremely nice, and periodically offered me bananas, juice, bananas, bread, and more bananas.  We arrived in Conakry just before dark, and I hobbled inside the Peace Corps compound to meet with the nurse.  She made an appointment for me at a downtown clinic early the next morning, and though stressed, tired, and in pain, I was very grateful to have a sturdy bed, clean sheets, and air conditioning waiting for me in the Peace Corps house.

At the clinic the next morning, the x-ray determined there were no broken bones in my foot (which was my biggest fear), and my infection sites (that had spread to various open wounds on my foot) were scrubbed, cleaned, and thoroughly bandaged. (It wasn’t the most comfortable of experiences- I let out quite a few tears on the treatment table.) I was prescribed some heavy-duty pain meds, told to continue with my antibiotics and ibuprofen, and to most importantly, stay off the foot until the doctor could look at it again the next week.  

So, I was sentenced to a stay in Conakry with little mobility and company.

Fortunately, a few new Peace Corps Response volunteers were arriving in Conakry that weekend, so there was a little bit of activity prepping for and during their arrival. Peace Corps Response is a way for individuals who have already been regular volunteers to return for shorter stints to various countries in need of their help, check it out- http://www.peacecorps.gov/index.cfm?shell=response.  I got to meet the new Response volunteers, and was generously invited to their welcome dinner at their APCD’s house (Associate Peace Corps Director, yes, I’m going crazy with the acronyms tonight!).  The dinner was delicious and partially helped to restore my sanity.  It was great to hear stories from their Peace Corps experiences and to share my own from my short time at site so far.  The new Response volunteers were all pretty jet-lagged, so it was a good match for my pain medication-induced grogginess. 

I was taken to the doctor again this morning and was happy to see the improvement in the infection on my foot.  The injury, however, is not looking so great, so I’m scheduled for a third trip tomorrow to see another doctor for a second opinion. 

So, I’m hoping for a fast, but thorough recovery, so this issue gets totally resolved.  Having internet access is great- sitting alone in Conakry unable to do my job is a little maddening.

One upside to the medical leave here in Conakry is that I have access to the “library” at the Peace Corps house in Conakry, and I don’t have to worry about rationing my books to last me the entire stay. (As I did during my first month at site. Note to self- five books is SO not enough for five weeks as a PCV).  So far in the Peace Corps, I’ve been able to get a fair amount of reading done.  Reading tons kind of goes with the Peace Corps lifestyle; I’ve heard from several people that if you want to read War & Peace, now is the time to do it. Here’s a quick rundown of the titles I’ve covered since landing in Africa in July:

Little Bee – Chris Cleave

Lord of the Flies- William Golding

A Moveable Feast -Hemmingway

Survivor – Chuck Palahniuk (Fight Club guy)

The Help- Kathryn Stockett

Twilight, New Moon (Yes, I caved and finally read these)

One Hundred Years of Solitude –Gabriel Garcia Marquez

Bloodstream* – Tess Gerritsen

My Sister’s Keeper – Jodi Piccoult

Galapagos- Vonnegut

One of our Thursday’s is Missing – Jasper Fforde

Bossypants – Tina Fey (ok, I listened to this one, I didn’t actually read it)

Game of Thrones- George R.R. Martin

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone*- Rowling

The Princess Bride*- William Goldman (another audiobook)


*The stars are re-reads, or re-listens. As in, I’ve read these before coming to Africa.

My reading list is sure to get more and more bizarre as I run through the PC libraries in Conakry and in Labe, but I can also download any recommendations on my ipad when I get back to wireless connection in Labe. So, I’m open to suggestions, and, as you can see from the above list, I’ll take a wide variety.

More soon from the gimp in Guinea,