I wasn’t going to post this because my friend Anne was going to do something with it but I sent the list below to a couple friends, who without my knowing, were having a tough day. Apparently laughing with me (never at me) helped. I decided to share anyway. Sorry Anne.
A little background. My status update yesterday on Facebook was, “This is not going to be my day. First the power goes out (and internet) and now there is no water.” I posted that after I mentioned that I was up at 4:20am because of howling dogs and loud roosters. Anyway a hilarious conversation took place between me, Anne and another friend about how ridiculous “normal” can be when you are travelling/living abroad – particularly Africa in our cases. Anne said the whole conversation reminded her of the book, Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day. Anne decided she had to collect more stories that are funny but ironic situations you find yourself in when abroad. Below is my contribution. All of these have happened to me (except one) in the last 6 years of traveling for my current project. Enjoy!
1. You wake up to find that a mosquito has bit your eyelid and you now look like you've been in a fight in your sleep. This has happened to me 3 different times in Addis including this morning. It usually gets worse as the day goes on. Last time it was so bad I could barely open my eye and my co-worker wanted to take me to the hospital.
2. You need to pee in the middle of the night but power is out again and you bang your leg on the massive bed frame (takes up two-thirds of the room) which results in bruise that is exposed when wearing half the the outfits you brought. Also happened this trip.
3. Speaking of bruises, you get 8 shots for an upcoming trip, 4 on each arm. A couple days later both arms are blue and your new Ethiopian co-worker is trying to have a conversation with you about domestic violence. It takes you 30 minutes to figure out why.
4. Because of a shortage, you can't get the yellow fever vaccine until day before you are set to fly. En route to Addis, you develop a fever on the 16 hour flight and the guy next to you asks to be moved because he thinks you have some strange tropical disease he will catch. You don't blame him because you've changed colors and are sweating buckets.
5. You get out of the car and immediately fall into a hole. The entire parking lot is covered in holes. Your knee is bleeding so bad that the guy, a doctor, you are meeting with is distracted and says he won't continue with the meeting until he can clean and dress your knee.
6. You have to decide between dehydration and peeing in the tall grass where, according to the locals, is full of snakes. The other option is a pit toilet even the men won't use.
7. You FINALLY find an outhouse at a health facility only to be chased out of it by goats who have claimed it as their home.
8. You have watched the movie Australia 10 times in 2 days because you've read every book you brought, the phonebook and chapters of the bible. They are showing it on repeat on the only channel you can get in Malawi. You are thinking of turning it into a one woman show and taking it on the road.
9. While researching local benefits packages, you find out from Ethiopian insurance companies that they won't cover pregnancy because its an unnatural disease. You also learn you'd only get $20 if you loss any of the toes on your left foot. What is a natural disease? A broken arm.
10. You are that weirdo with your arm in the air, phone tilted so you can see the screen, standing on the hood of the car which park on top of hill yelling, "I think I have 1 bar." The driver is yelling out a number for you to call. All the villagers have come to watch this spectacle.
11. No one believes that you are not Ethiopian and some have decided to introduce you as the American that was adopted but doesn't know it. And they are completely serious.
12. You wake up to find that the grass roof of your room is on fire because of an electrical short. The response from lodge management is, "oh, again." This happened to a co-worker, not me.
13. You are hiding in the lab because the director of the agency where you are working has literally been chasing you around all day asking for a ream of paper for the printer. You wonder how he intends to print because earlier you noticed that none of the computers are plugged in at agency because none of the outlets work.
I started typing these up when I was awoken by the dogs and rooster at 4am again this morning and realized the power was out so I couldn't watch Al Jezeera (only channel in English). Luckily, my ipad was charged.
Now, if you will all excuse me, I have to ice my swollen eye with a Green and Blacks chocolate bar I accidentally froze – in the mini fridge, not a freezer. I am actually being serious about that.