Monday, January 29, 2007

One hell of a week

What a week that was. Sebastian decided that I didn’t have enough on my plate with Joaquim’s dysentry (unfortunate choice of words, sorry), and came down with a truly horrendous cold, which involved vast quantities of snot, periodic choking on the same and/or violent coughing and occasional vomitting as a result of the latter (notably and profusely at 10.30pm, in my bed, with Joaquim crying next door). Lovely. Oh yes, and yelling if I so much as put him down for a moment, including bathtime, nappy changes and so on. Very restful. Meanwhile, Joaquim had to be cajoled into taking his medicine, although it was relatively inoffensive, a process which took about 15 minutes each time (3 times a day), even with the invaluable assistance of a lollipop in hand. To be fair, it got much better as time went on, until eventually he was asking to hold the spoon and taking it on his own “like a grown man”! He also gradually improved health-wise, and is now, thank the stars, fully recovered. As is Sebastian. Oh, and did I mention that Paulo, taking advantage of a free ticket, was in Maputo all this time, dealing with a bunch of tedious stuff, but also enjoying uninterrupted nights and mornings, on one of which he slept until 2pm? (2pm!!! Can you imagine such a thing? Alas, I no longer can.) So I was doubly glad to welcome him back last Friday, and was treated to a lie-in on Saturday until 8am. 8am! Bliss! Felt like a new woman. Sadly, that is not sarcastic.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Not a happy bunny

Perhaps we have just been very lucky until now, or perhaps is has to do with being two and a half and not understanding very well the concept of clean and dirty, but Joaquim is currently recovering from his second nasty tropical disease, only a couple of months after his first. Step forwards ameobic dysentry. It started with a high fever and lack of appetite. “Malaria,” we thought, and whisked him off to the private clinic for a finger-prick test. Joaquim recognised the clinic: “They’re going to do an ow, they’re going to do an ow on my finger,” he wailed pitifully in Portuguese. “No, no, no! I don’t want it!” You can imagine how much fun this was. One negative result, one largely sleepless night, and a bout of violent diarrhea later, we were back at the clinic for more tests. His temperature was almost 40C, they fed him paracetamol, wrapped him in wet blankets and turned on the air-con. He cooled down and fell asleep. I was giving thanks for the private clinic – relatively new – which is clean and comfortable and has nice bathrooms with running water, in complete contrast to the provincial hospital where we would otherwise have had to go.

Joaquim woke up to more ows – first in his hand, where they failed to draw blood, then in his arm, successfully. He was sobbing, it was horrible. I had armed myself with some Winnie the Pooh sweets (recently arrived from the UK, thankyou Maman) which successfully and quickly calmed him down, the anticipation having been worse than the act itself. Next a urine and faeces sample – painless, easy. We waited, we got the results, the doctor asked us to come back for the afternoon paediatric clinic for a prescription. Joaquim was not best pleased to be back at the clinic, but repeated over and over to himself and to everyone around him my assurance that there were to be no ows and no pricks this time. With this little mantra he stayed calm and behaved impecably with the doctor. In fact, he was doing a very good impersonation of a well child.

The worst is over, I thought. Step forwards metronidazole. One tablet three times a day with meals, for eight days. OK, no problem. Except that metronidazole is the most revoltingly, gag-inducingly bitter stuff you have ever come across, only available here in uncoated tablets. Impossible to get it down him. More wailing, utterly pitiful dribbling and gagging. I was in despair. Ameobic dysentry does not go away on its own and can cause serious problems if left untreated. We managed to sneak a dose into his breakfast cereal – crushed and inside an emptied-out paracetamol capsule (no taste, slippery), burried in mashed banana. He found the one at lunch and we had to force feed it to him. Hideous. No more, I decided. I called the very expensive and very good Swedish clinic in Maputo. “Paediatric metronidazole? No, we don’t stock it any more, it was always going out of date.” DESPAIR. “Hang on…” (anxious wait…) “I remembered that we ordered two lots. Yes, we have some.” HOORAY!

It’s arriving tomorrow with DHL, total cost about £25, and I would have paid many times that. Joaquim has also stabilised so tomorrow we start again, hopefully with less stress and more success. I’m stocking up with sweets to bribe him with.

Living in Africa has its bad days, and that was one of them, but once again this has brought home our immense good fortune in being well-off, well-fed, generally healthy and owners of medical insurance that will fly us out of here if necessary. Unlike almost everyone else in this country.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Three men in a car

Nothing to report today but more rain, so here's a pic of three of my favourite men on safari.

(Until something interesting happens you're likely to get a run of recent holiday pics. Let me know when you get bored...)

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

The intrepid travellers

Nothing to report today but rain, so here's a little pic of the lot of us (and my sister's suitcase) having just got back from Ibo yesterday.

And for the benefit (?) of anyone else thinking of making the move to Mozambique, I have added my blog to a website called expat-blog, whose funky logo should now be appearing in my links, if I haven't messed up.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Back again

Hello and a happy new year to all, if you haven't given up and stopped checking this blog by now. I am back at work - in principle at least, if not fully in spirit - after a wonderful visit from my parents, sister and aunt, which involved getting stuck in the mud and seeing hundreds of giraffes in Selous Game Reserve, Tanzania, friendly red colobus monkeys and the ever-fascinating Stone Town in Zanzibar, and total relaxation on Ibo Island back here in Northern Mozambique (a quick plug for the absolutely fantastic, unmissable Ibo Island Lodge - google it). A very brief resume, but much fun was had by all, especially Joaquim who - being obsessed by planes - particularly enjoyed the frequent flights in small aircraft from one place to another. He also made great progress with his swimming ("Like a tiny fish!") and disco dancing ("Come dancing, Granny!") and sentences in English ("I like big planes, you like small planes."), where he has now caught up with his Portuguese. Sebastian - universally acknowledged as adorable, but I knew that already - is crawling, tackling steps although not entirely sucessfully, and now has three teeth and another three about to come through. And still doesn't sleep through the night. Can't have it all.

And on the work front, I have two houses ready on Ibo Island for homestays and the third is not far behind, and I am quite chuffed with myself! Namau continues to be worked on, with the construction of a wooden walkway through the mangrove trees to a sun-bathing platform and swimming spot in the river mouth at the other side, and the guesthouse almost finished. Getting there, slowly slowly as ever. Challenges for the year ahead: 1. identify and establish another 3 community tourism projects in the Quirimbas National Park, 2. get Sebastian sleeping through the night, 3. build our house, 4. not have another baby!

Leave me some comments so I know you're still out there!