November 1, 2012
During training we have to sit through all kinds of lessons on how to thrive in this country: Safety and Security, Medical, Kinyarwanda, Cross Culture and Technical. You have so much information thrown at you in such a short period of time that sometimes you feel like your brain is going to explode and all that will be left are three different verbs all meaning to wash and only one verb meaning to hear, listen, feel, taste and smell (‘tis true, Kinyarwanda is a funny language sometimes). However, one session that didn’t get bogged down in the murk of my head was the medical session on bugs and parasites, and trust me, after you saw those pictures you wouldn’t forget them either. But being a relatively clean and neat person (and not just by Peace Corps standards, which to put it nicely can be a little lower than the usual American), I figured I would never need to worry about actually contracting one of these things. Ohhh how I was wrong.
On Saturday, a group of friends and I decided to make the trek out to see another group of PCTs when I noticed that it felt like there was something in my foot. Figuring it for a rock, I promptly forgot about it until later that evening. Deciding to be proactive I take a look at it, only to realize that I have a jigger. What is a jigger you ask? A jigger is a devil of a bug that burrows itself into your feet and lays eggs. You get them usually by walking around barefoot (which I do not) in dusty areas (aka every road. Ever). Damn my [un]luck.
Trying to sound nonchalant the next day, I send the good Doctor a text trying to downplay it, hoping for the life of me it isn’t a jigger. However I immediately receive a call from him, saying he wants me to go to Kigali. Wait a second, I can go to Kigali for this? Kigali, the magical land of hot showers, non-Rwandan food, toilets and not being stared at?!?!? I jump on board, scheduling a time to meet with him the next day.
So not only do I get to go to Kigali, I also get to go in a Peace Corps car. PC cars are not how we normally get around. We normally get around in squish buses, adequately named. Also PC cars have air conditioning. Not that Rwanda is overly hot or anything (actually I am currently wearing long sleeves, long pants and smart wool socks to stay warm, damn you rainy season), but nothing screams America more than air conditioning. (There is actually a video of my happiness upon learning I would be going in the PC car, check it out here: http://whatshouldpcvscallme.tumblr.com/post/34162310954/that-time-i-got-to-ride-in-a-pc-vehicle-with-air) Once we reached the paved main road (as opposed to the dirt roads) I closed my eyes. With the a/c, smooth ride and VOA pop station playing in the background, I could almost believe I was back in America. It was incredible, thank you jigger.
The doctor’s appointment passed in a blur of cutting bugs out of my foot and begging the doctor to let me stay in Kigali overnight (which he did, being the moment in which Dr. Laurent became my favorite person in the world). That night I indulged in Chinese food and hot showers (yes plural), scrubbing off the dirt that bucket baths just can’t get to. Feeling like a real person again, the next morning I felt an eagerness that I didn’t expect. I was ready to get back to training, back to my friends and back to village. But thanks jigger, for thinking that my foot would make a welcoming home, I really needed a little vacation.