The most curious thing happened to me a few weeks ago…and it is only curious because of the events that took place between yesterday and today. But first…
I traveled to South Africa with the intention of being as touristy as I could get because I may never visit the country again. I came to this realization because South African visas have become ridiculously expensive. It seems more realistic to request a visa to the UK now, because at least you get months and not days. I do not know what it will be like when you decide to start your travels which is why I have to see these places now, so that if I am too poor to take you to them (God forbidooo!) and be your guide, at least I will be able to peak your curiosity enough for you to want to visit with your friends.
On the agenda was a visit to the imposing Table Mountain with a futuristic view of the beautiful Cape Town. My first visit to the mountain was at night, so it was as romantic as it was life threatening; with sections that would make perfect locations for crimes of passion and freak accidents. When day light came we drove to the old town of Stellenbosch. I spotted five or six scantily clad black women standing by the roadside, separated by a few kilometers. They could have been hitchhikers, but I was given the impression that they were not that in the strictest sense when I asked because I got, “what do you think?” as an answer.
The driveway into the Graaf Delaire Estate has plumage on either end so beautiful it appears each plant has a designated caretaker or maybe it has those fabled garden gnomes. There were acres and acres of what I expect make up some of the wine you are drinking in your day. We also went to the Constantia Glen, for wine tasting and took away a 2011 bottle of red. I am not a wine buff, and these posh things do not excite me much but as that saying by the wise African novelist goes, “if you are going to eat a fat juicy frog…you might as well do it in style” or something along those lines.
The beauty of these wine routes is almost ethereal I wanted to whisper half the time but this story is not about the disgustingly vast expanse of charm. It is also not even about the creepy trip to Robben Island which I will hopefully write to you about one day.
It is about my belated trip to Sun City, the desert-turned amusement park, where I went with two new found friends and an old one. It was a belated arrangement because there are other things to do in South Africa these days and there will be a lot more or nothing in your day (it is possible that the country will regress into the stone-age, you never know).
You have not really been to the Sun City, I have been told, until you try their various water activities and especially until you swim in the Valley of the Waves __ a huge-ish swimming pool replete with its own fake sandy beach. There is a fortress-like-dam at the end of the pool and sculpted into this wall are what I assume are lions (I did not get close enough to see) which as I would later learn are designed to spit a steady stream of water each time a fake wave is about to be released. Do not ask me why lions would spit water in the first place, this is a desert, with water slides and sandy beaches…go with the flow.
When we arrived, about 300 0r 200 children and some adult were running (as fast as you can run in knee high water) or rather waddling with much haste and in the process keeling over themselves as they rushed towards the artificial shore. The true African in me almost run back towards the locker room too if it I hadn’t heard what I believe a canon blast in a river would sound like, announcing what they were running away from. A ten-foot artificial wave. They would keep doing this throughout the rest of the day, some visibly anxious and stressed about the impending arrival of the wave but giggling manically and remaining in the middle of the pool. We joined the madness, sat in the heat, ate some junk, went down the slides in spite of my fear of depth ( a tiny part of me died) and finally gambled a bit before heading back to Joburg. A day well-spent…
I got home and noticed a tiny black spot in the palm of my left hand. I figured it must be a thorn. I tried to remove it but I didn’t have anything sharp to force it out so I got impatient and fell asleep. The next day there was a bit of discomfort but I ignored it.
When I got back home, I went to the doc for a post-trip general body check, which I hardly ever do but free medical insurance does things to people…I should know, I worked at a surgery. I was given a clean bill of health.
Yesterday, a whole week later, the spot started itching. I would not have taken it for much if it weren’t for the fact that one of my workmates was doing editing a story on sand fleas. Sand fleas are what we refer to as jiggers. I immediately went to Google for an explanation and the first sentence that hit me was “The first evidence of infestation by this sand flea is a tiny black dot on the skin at the point of penetration” here and a further more hair-raising explanation here.
I do not know much about sand fleas but insects in general freak me out. I was, however, more amused than terrified. I found it far more intriguing that I had gotten bitten by a sand flea…IN SOUTH AFRICA! AT SUN CITY! ON AN ARTIFICIAL BEACH! AFTER DRINKING THAT MUCH WINE AND VODKA. Clearly there are no rules.
I texted my cousin’s wife to tell her that the tiny thorn that had tried to mar my experience had metamorphosed into a jigger and she laughed and texted back “so olina envuza?” (yes, this is your family)
My aunty Helen, the doctor, said to suffocate it with petroleum jelly. I had none at work.
I promised the old friend with whom I had gone to Sun City that I would go to the doc and have what he called “the host/ wiggly” removed the next day since it was already late. He said he would be writing a complaint to the resort too and I laughed. He said I was not taking this seriously enough.
That was yesterday. I woke up today and the tiny itchy swelling had gone down. I suspect I could have suffocated whatever was in there by washing my hands too much (I go to the bathroom quite a bit) and adding moisturizer. There’s still a tiny invisible bump I can only feel if I touch now. I do not want to go to the doctor and look like an idiot saying…”I swear! It was there!” So I am going to try and open my hand myself. Wish me luck.
P.s I should not visit the East of Uganda anytime soon. If I managed to get beaten by one that far away…imagine what will happen if I go EAST!!