It is an ancient superstition that bad things always happen in threes and one that I’ve never been completely convinced by. I am not obsessed with finding a four leaf clover nor do I go out of my way to avoid walking under ladders. However I have to admit our recent trip to Jinja certainly made me question the concept of ‘luck’! It was lovely to have an old friend from Uni, Siobhan to visit and as we only had few days together we planned a trip to Jinja which is just a couple of hours east of Kampala. Alex and I have been really fond of Jinja with its dilapidated charm since we first visited it 7 years ago and over the passed 5 months we’ve visited several times. Recently favouring the riverside accommodation near the rapids upriver. Siobhan and Alex wanted to try white water rafting. Siobhan’s visit clashed with payroll week so I was pretty tied to my computer and unable to participate. Not such a bad thing as I’m not the strongest swimmer and I have a bit of a thing about spending too long under water. (snorkelling aside). So Alex and Siobhan set off for the rafting and I spent the day working next to the Nile. Can’t really complain.
This is where the bad luck started…unbeknown to us this mini break to Jinja started a whole chain of events. When the rafters returned Alex presented his left hand to me. Minus wedding ring!!!!! The force of the water had removed his ring (which he hadn’t taken off since we got married 2 years ago) and his wedding ring was now in the bottom of the Nile somewhere. It is not about the monetary value of the ring but sentimentally we were both sad at the rings demise. The following week we went down to one of the craft markets in Kampala and bought a replacement wedding ring. Alex is now sporting a cow horn ring. It’s actually very nice and it only cost 20p. At first after the rafting the loss of the ring took centre stage. After an hour or two it became apparent that Alex had also seriously injured one of his fingers. After a bit of watsapping back to Nurse Ramsay in Brighton we concluded that Alex had ‘mallet finger’. Google it – it’s pretty nasty. The next morning after no improvement overnight we went into Jinja to find a clinic so Alex could get his finger splinted. A few hours and a painkilling injection in the bum later he was all bandaged up and feeling rather sorry for himself. That concluded the bad luck from Jinja – or so we thought.
A couple of weeks ago, Alex wasn’t feeling too well. It was the day of the Wimbledon final infact when he started to question his symptoms. Living here, the first thing that springs to mind when either of us feel even slightly under the weather is…MALARIA! However we’ve met so many expats who all seem pretty blase about the malaria risk here that we had quite a false sense of security about contracting it. Especially since we spend a lot of time in Kampala where is seems to be widely accepted that it is low risk. We figured he just had a virus but best to rule out malaria so off we traipsed down to the hospital. It was a sunday night and nowhere was open other than the A and E department so that’s where we went. It was quick to get the test done and the results came through fast. With them came the news that yes infact Alex did have malaria!!!!!! Although his malaria levels were low the doctors seemed worried due to his Muzungu status and lack of immunity to malaria. The locals treat malaria a bit like flu and often self medicate but it’s a bit more complicated for non locals and they started to panic us slightly. I’m not going to go into our hospital experience of Kampala other than to say it was not a very nice experience… i was pretty worried about Alex for a few days but he was treated quickly and he recovered within a week. He is back to his normal self. We tried to work out when Alex could have got malaria. Ofcourse it could have been anywhere. It only takes one bite to get malaria. But as I’ve already said the risk in Kampala is low. The incubation period is usually something like 7-14 days but it can emerge even up to a year after contraction. We counted back and around 9 days before Alex was diagnosed with malaria we were in JINJA!!!!!! I also distinctly remember there being mosquitos around, Siobhan, Mathilde and I were all covered up and wearing repellent and Alex on that occasion was not…
So bad luck in this instance seems to have happened in threes, our trip to Jinja has a lot to answer for. I asked Alex is he regretted the rafting trip. He said that it was expensive, he quickly calculated; ‘It was about $20 per rapid, I lost my wedding ring, broke my finger and got malaria…’ Make of that what you will.
Nile River from the Haven.