What do these three things have in common? Can’t guess the answer? You mean it’s not obvious? Hmmmm… well, I guess I’ll help you out. The answer is: me. The past two weeks have been quite trying. When I woke up Monday morning, September 17th, I woke up to find that the bag that I keep my personal documents in, including my passport, had somehow fallen from where I had put in on my desk and into a 9-liter bucket of water. Every night I fill the bucket up in the event that the water doesn’t work the next day. Imagine my dread as I opened up the bag and find a completely waterlogged passport. Waterlogged passports are no bueno. In fact, they’re worthless. I was absolutely sick to my stomach, namely because that’s the only government-issued identification I have in Senegal that proves that I’m an American citizen. Fortunately I have photocopies of all the essential pages of my passport, ie: the photo ID page and all of my visas. I’ll be able to replace the passport fairly easily, but getting a replacement visa from the Senegalese government might be another story. The directors of the NGO that I work for know some pretty influential people in the government, so I’m hoping that someone can pull some strings for me so I can replace the visa.
The motorcycle. Nope, I didn’t buy one. They don’t sell the make or model that I like over here. No, it’s a much less exciting story. I was actually hit by a motorcycle as I was crossing the street to go to my Wolof class. That was Tuesday, September 25. I have no idea where he came from. The road was absolutely clear when I started crossing. But he hit me just as I was about to step up on the opposite curb. Y’all are familiar with the phrase s/he won’t know what hit him? Yep, that was me. I had no idea what was happening. I was upright one second, and then the next I felt this horrible pain in my left leg and I was staring up at the sky. I rolled over and stood up (sort of). My right sandal was hanging half way off of my foot, and I noticed that it was skinned up and bleeding pretty badly. The motorcyclist was very concerned and I could tell that he felt terrible. He had to have been going at least 25 mph. I don’t know if he fell off the motorcycle or not. It doesn’t seem like he did, but I didn’t pay much attention to him. I was slightly more concerned about me – selfish, I know. Amazingly enough I didn’t break my leg, and my head never touched the ground. I had my backpack on and that provided some cushioning, and I’m so thankful that the fall didn’t break my computer. That would have been quite devastating. Another blessing was that I didn’t fall face-forward because if I had, I’d have certainly broken my nose or knocked out some teeth on the edge of sidewalk. Instead I landed back and to the left (and fortunately out of the way of traffic).
I have a very nasty bruise on my left leg that starts right at the base of my foot and goes a third of the way up my leg and wraps around about half of the circumference of my ankle and calf. The bruising starts at my heel and extends just a bit past my arch. I still can’t believe that it’s not broken – I’ve always been able to bear my full weight, and it only hurts because of the swelling. That’s where the tire hit me. It hurts to walk normally on my right foot because of the fairly deep superficial wounds, and I pulled my hamstring really badly. But other than those wounds and several sore ribs and muscles, I’m fine. I literally walked away from the accident and continued on with my day. Each day the pain has lessened, and I’m thankful for the people who have been praying for my complete recovery.
Lesson learned #1: always, always be aware of one’s surroundings and alert to danger. Lesson learned #2: I was definitely watched over. There was no logical reason why I was able to walk away from that without having to go to the hospital. Considering the force with which that motorcycle hit me (not to mention that the full impact was absorbed by one leg), I should have a severely broken leg, a bad concussion, and a broken computer.
To finish off the unhappy three, I’ve been battling a severe case of bronchitis for about a week. It started out as a normal head cold (that started 2 weeks ago), but it moved down into my chest and got much worse. I think my bronchioles are inflamed due to Dakar’s poor air quality. Many of the vehicles (particularly those used for public transportation) spew clouds of black exhaust, and there’s no way to escape it. Breathing has been very difficult – and landing the way I did after the motorcycle hit me hasn’t helped. I missed two days of work and a day of Wolof courses. The Jones’ helped me find a doctor, so I had chest x-rays taken and he ordered some blood work, too. After he got all of the results back he prescribed me 4 different types of very powerful antibiotics and anti-pulmonary inflammatories. I’m on the mend now, so hopefully I won’t have any more heart-stopping moments for a long time.