Daktari means “Doctor” which I had ample time to learn in today’s adventure. You can learn a lot of Swahili words as you lay in a hospital bed with an IV drip for an 8 hour day. It all started innocently enough. Yesterday’s itinerary included a trip to a designated “Cultural Village”. This is part of the Tanzanian government’s attempt to make sure a certain amount tourist dollars get spent more closely to the Tanzanian people who need it. So this tour of the village would allow locals — especially women who have few work opportunities — to act as guides introducing us to village life and farming techniques. The highlight of the visit was to be a large traditional Tanzanian lunch — again providing employment for the women who cooked it.
It was the most delicious food we’ve had yet, including okra, a pozole type stew, a very mild cabbage dish, a kind of spinach that looked like micro-greens and flat bread.
It was delicious, that is, until about six o’clock that evening when the projectile vomiting and the continuous diarrhea started. And continued through the night. By morning, I was throwing up even water. But I was game to go on the day’s activity which was the Ngorongoro Crater where we were promised sightings of a lot of big game. I prepared myself with handy wipes and checked with our guide that, if I was caught short, I could run outside the Land Rover between designated rest room stops. That’s when I found out that at least five other members of the tour were sick. One was too sick to get on the bus in the first place. Another sufferer, Frank Class of 64, and I were on one bus. Before we’d even gotten through the introduction at the Ngorono Visitors Center he was vomiting uncontrollably. I was laying down on the back seat unable to move. Cathy, a former Navy nurse who served in China Beach, Viet Nam, ordered us medivaced to the nearest clinic.
I’m back on my feet now and ready to see more of what Africa has to show me. But, as interesting as the Cultural Village visit was, I’d caution any future Africa sojourners: “Don’t eat the food, don’t drink the water.”
Daktari Frank and his FAME clinic are actually doing some pretty incredible work in Africa, training doctors and getting medical help to underserved areas. In brief, The Foundation for African Medicine & Education is a non-profit created to improve the quality of medical care in East Africa. FAME endeavors to help bridge the gap between a critically under-resourced healthcare system and first-world medicine. FAME is currently focused on improving the quality and accessibility of medical care in Tanzania and making a difference in the day-to-day lives of the Tanzanian people. Take a look and donate if you like what you see.