Always in the deep woods when you leave familiar ground and step off alone into a new place there will be, along with the feelings of curiosity and excitement, a little nagging of dread. It is an ancient fear of the unknown and is your first bond with the wilderness you are going into. What you are doing is exploring. -- Wendell Berry

The TRIP: GUINEA - wonkifong --> MALI - bamako, djenne, douentza, Dogon Country --> Burkina Faso - ouagadougou, bobo-dioulasso, bala, ouagadougou --> GHANA - tamale, mole national park, tamale, yeji, volta lake ferry, akosombo, accra, green turtle lodge, elmina, cape coast, accra, hohoe and wli falls --> TOGO - kpalime, atakpame, lome --> BENIN - cotonu (transport stop) --> NIGER - niamey, tahoua, agadez, camel trek in aiir mtns, niamey --> BENIN (abomey, grand popo, ouidah, ganvie, cotonou) --> CAMEROON (douala, buea, top of Mt Cameroon, limbe, sangelima, yaounde, kribi, douala) --> MAURITANIA (nouakchott, atar, chinguetti, camels into the sahara, terjit, choume, ride the coal train, nouadhibou) --> MOROCCO (western sahara, dakhla, agadir, essaouira, marrakesh, imlil, summit of jebel toubkal, fes, chefchaouen) --> cross the Strait of Gibraltar --> Malaga, Spain --> fly to Geneva, Switzerland --> Les Grangettes, France
Click for a map. Updated April 30, 2007

samedi, août 19, 2006

Ultimate Frisbee and a Trip to the Conakry Emergency Room (aka Mom, I’m OK)

A line is drawn across the field approximately 10 feet behind the goal line for ultimate Frisbee matches. The purpose of the line is to keep the Guinean kids at a safe distance from the playing field. It’s a funny sight. They line up shoulder to shoulder along this line and watch us play. Even after an hour of playing they are still there, watching.

Today’s match was no different. The spectator line was drawn and the crowd gathered to watch the funny Americans run in circles and throw a purple disk at one another. Little did they know that their tickets actually gave them front row seats to action, physical contact and lots of blood. The teams were evenly matched and my team was on the defense. The man I was marking began a diagonal run for the end zone. I gave chase and the Frisbee was thrown. All I had to do was make sure that he did not catch it. We jumped and while my hand managed to deflect the Frisbee, his elbow made solid contact with my lip.

When hit in the lip, my first impulse is to put my hand there for a blood check. Today, I was rewarded with dripping, bright red blood in large quantities. My lip felt like a massive chunk had been torn out. Where was the rest of my lip? Was it on his elbow? The spectator line contains faces of disbelief and a little disgust – there was a lot of blood. Using my shirt, I attempted to slow the bleeding as a PC volunteer and another trainee walked with me towards the PC building in Forecariah.

Fortunately, we see a PC truck and flag it down. Using the rear view mirrors, I was finally able to see the “damage” done. The left side of my lip had been split wide open with a gash going from the lip up several centimeters. Closer inspection revealed that a chunk had not been torn out but that the gash was deep. The decision was made. I needed to go to Conakry as soon as possible to get stitches.

I was driven home to quickly shower and pack an overnight bag. My buddy Patrick was given permission to travel with me to Conakry. We were picked up by a PC driver and began the trip as I still tried to stop the blood flow from my lip.

Two hours later, we picked up the PC Medical Officer and headed for a hospital emergency room. Walking into the emergency room, I immediately noticed how quiet it was. This is a capital city on a Friday night and the emergency room was completely empty. The benefit is that I was seen immediately.

Minutes later, I was on the ER table wondering how much I would feel the needle about to prick my lip. Once, twice, three times and a fourth. Fingers were then poked at my lip. Can you feel it? I could not, so the sewing began. Three stitches were put into my lip/face. Here’s to good healing!