Thursday, October 16, 2014

The Death Virus of Africa


The day had already started poorly.  I woke up in a terrible mood, cold, and clammy.  For a whole month, the rest of the student group and I would be on safari. This meant no contact with the outside world until December.  My November would be spent studying animals and the ‘natives’, with no email, no phone calls, and no way of knowing if my boyfriend was cheating on me.  I awoke in the freezing cold tent to the sounds of thunder, a lurking omen of how this trip was starting for me. That day we would drive eight hours into the wilderness, leaving my pleading emails begging for chastity behind.  Cold and wet, we boarded the gigantic, ‘I’m a tourist let me take your picture’ Unimog, open safari vehicles to begin day 1 of 28, not that I was counting. 

I barely noticed the teeny town we were leaving as I wallowed in self-loathing and pity.  Gradually, paved roads turned to dirt ones, and my brain went from a healthy, sponge-like consistency to a soupy, non-human one.  Bumps shook internal organs loose, and I found it much harder to brace myself in the seat than it was to just give up and be rocketed into the air every four seconds, tits attempting to rip themselves from my body with every pot hole. “Whee,” I thought, “Only 4 more weeks of this? Damn, I wish I could stay forever!” Even in my head I was a sarcastic asshole.  My mood complimented the whole situation perfectly.  While the town we were in was nothing special, I quickly had one of those “Holy shit I’m in fucking Africa” moments that rarely occurred in my distracted little mind.  Upon first glimpse of a zebra, I did a double take. “Holy shit! We’re in fucking Africa!” With eyes now peeled on the edges of the dusty forests, we would frantically press mega-zoom on our cameras to try and document the exotic animals peering at us from a distance with bored, smug expressions.  Now kneeling on our seats, we surfed over the bumps, practically screaming when we caught a glimpse of a gazelle, ostrich, or impala.  After all, the closest I had ever been to these kinds of animals was throwing fun-straws at them from over the fence.  “Maybe we’ll see something kill something!” Alex threw at me. “Fuck yeah, dude, like, maybe a fucking lion will come out of nowhere and jump on that zebra!” I aimed my gun-fingers at the bewildered creature, “Pew! Pew!

As the day progressed, we saw more and more of the “fucking African wildlife”.  At a stopping point, I stared complacently into the eyes of a giraffe (well, it was about 100 yards off).  “If this is what the next 4 weeks will be like… fucking… fucking awesome!” I thought to myself as another of the numerous smiles spread across my face.  Lunch was quick, and pee-breaks even quicker as our freaked-out glances behind our bare asses played tricks on us with feigned sights of movement.  Eight hours passed way quicker than anticipated, and I arrived at the campsite extraordinarily happy and excited about the first day’s adventures. 

As we sat around the campfire that late afternoon, I noticed a slight nauseous feeling.  So, I drank a beer. (The junky needs her fix!) Oddly enough, the feeling didn’t improve. I told our safari guide/teacher Thad that I was a bit under the weather, who scolded me immediately for not staying hydrated.  This led to a group announcement of not only reminding us how old we were, but also disappointment that we couldn’t take care of ourselves.  Tails between our legs, me and three others headed to our tents to try and combat the dehydration.  Soon enough, I realized, “Hey, wait a minute…this is surely not a lack of water!” Before running out to the bushes behind the tents to vomit up what was probably my lunch. After the food had evacuated, I looked up and noticed the three others doing the exact same thing. 

Between puking and laughing, we mused as to what had caused the unpredictable heaves.  After about an hour, ten more people had joined the festivities.   And it was no longer an upset stomach. This was the devil’s fist clenching onto innards in fury and revenge. We were no longer laughing our way through “How you doin’s” but frantically checking to make sure no one was either passed out or choking on vomit.  I stumbled my way to my friend Alec, “Hey, you ok?” I asked. “Yea,” he heaved, “You know the best,” (heave), “Part of this?” (heave), “When you shit juice.” (heave). Huh. I haven’t had that… wait… oh…for fuck’s sake. Sprinting to the bathroom, I literally had to clamp my hand over my mouth to create a vacuum suction so I had enough time to shit, turn around and have a nice power-chuck into the filthy toilet.  Now night fall, it was no longer safe to walk around without a headlamp on, for fear of stepping in half digested bodily excrement.  Exiting the bathroom, me and two others found a girl passed out on the ground. “Jesus Christ,” I remarked in passing, and lay down in my tent covered in puke with two other girls.  One was sick, the other wasn’t, and she had just yelled at me for being too loud. “Yea, well… you’ll be a terrible mother,” as I choked back tears. Luckily she got what she was coming to her as an hour later she was outside vomiting up lentils. 

Asleep for ten minutes, I awoke sweating in a panic, “Holy shit, I need outside, NOW!” Climbing over Alex, I hovered, gagging over Naomi frantically searching for the zipper. “Oh hell no,” Naomi moved quickly, thinking she was about to be the victim of a vomit spray, and found the zipper for me.   Three steps towards the bushes to hurl, I realized I was about to crap my pants.  Six frantic steps in the opposite direction, I experienced what would be the lowest moment of my life.  I passed out, and woke up face first on the ground because of the iron fist clench of my stomach and bowels- I simultaneously puked and shit myself in the middle of the campsite. “Fuuuuck….”
The word sort of fell from my lips as if trying to slowly escape the horror.  And that, my friends, was the worst moment of my life. At the end of the night, no one in the camp had escaped the death virus, and we all awoke in a feverish haze the next day, having all been the victims of a literal shit show.

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