Wednesday, 29 April 2009

On My Way: Update

Well, that was short-lived!

I will not be leaving on 7th May after all - I have to take my Mum to the hospital - nothing serious, but it has to be done. So, my new date is on or about 12th May depending upon availability of tickets.

Monday, 27 April 2009

On My Way: Part I

So, I have settled all the affairs I can, posted out loads of reminder invoices and checked all my commitments for the next two months.

And I think I can finally get my butt out to Kenya. It has been over a year since I was last there, about 9 months too long a gap between visits.

I am planning to leave the UK on 7 May, flying overnight to JKIA, arriving early on the Friday morning, then a shuttle to Kisii, unless a miracle happens and I can hire/borrow/beg/steal a car - forget the steal bit, just hire/borrow/beg. I really do not like the trip from Nairobi to Kisii on shuttles. I feel that it is akin to suicide.

After an as yet undefined stay in Kisii, where I will be getting the shamba into some sort of order, and kick-starting an anti-malaria drive in the area, I will hop across the country to Malindi to see my girlfriend and the kids. I suspect that I will do very little as I find the coast just too hot.

Finally, I will probably have to stay a few days in Nairobi to catch up with contacts and see what the job prospects are. Then home to UK.

Shouldn't take more than a month to six weeks. It's a tough life but someone has to do it.

Doctors Welcome Malaria Microchip

Now this is good news - but not for countries crippled with malaria!
Dr. Joseph Mugasa (Kenyan Tanzanian) and Project leader Dr Lisa Ranford-Cartwright at Glasgow University claim they have created a device which can detect malaria within minutes.
From the BBC News website:

Doctors have welcomed the development as more travellers go abroad without taking proper precautions against the disease.
The flu-like symptoms can be missed until the patient is critically ill.
Blood samples are placed in the microchip, which is designed to detect the strain of disease. This means the best drug can be used to treat it.
Last year a study revealed more cases of the most dangerous type of malaria than ever before are being brought back to the UK from trips abroad.

The Health Protection Agency study identified 6,753 cases of falciparum malaria diagnosed between 2002 and 2006.
Experts said many of the cases arose from visits to west Africa made by people visiting relatives and friends.
Project leader Dr Lisa Ranford-Cartwright said: "The current way of diagnosing is using a blood smear on a slide and examining it on a microscope.
"That will take a good microscopist a good hour to reach a diagnosis, it's extremely difficult to make that diagnosis accurately.
"The chip can give us a result in as little as half an hour."
Unfortunately, this device will only be available in the developed world, where malaria is only a problem for travellers who do not take adequate precautions, as it will be too expensive for developing countries, which are the ones that really need it!

Of Google Earth and Cheese

It is funny how a particular activity can trigger memories, often mundane, and so it was today. I was scrolling along the French coast in Google Earth, looking for a friend's new house, when I passed over Deauville ...

My family and I were lucky enough to live in France for several years, in fact most of the 1980s. We were nicely established in a suburb of Paris, but enjoyed, like many Parisiens, to escape to the country at weekends.

One Sunday, we drove out to the Normandy coast to get a bit of fresh air in our lungs. It was fresh alright! We arrived at our destination close to Deauville just after the passing of a thunderstorm. The tide was out so we elected to go for a walk along the beach, which was strewn with enormous, purple jellyfish, presumably dead (but how can you tell!!?)

We walked for about a mile along the deserted beach, when my son turned round and saw another storm approaching from behind us.

We turned and walked briskly, then ran, towards the sanctuary of the car, but the storm got there before us and we were drenched.

We drove into Deauville and found a cosy bistro where we had hot drinks to warm us up, and after having revived ourselves, set off for home.

To get to the motorway from Deauville, you have to pass through Pont l'Eveque, a village famous for producing a particularly fine full-fat cheese. So we found a farm and bought four of these squares.

The journey home was long and slow as we were not alone in trying to return to Paris and by the time we got to our apartment, with two, still wet and miserable kids, a half-drowned dog, the last thing on my mind was the cheese we had bought.

Now, like many Parisiens, we only used the car at weekends, preferring to use the excellent public transport to go to work.

So it wasn't until the following Saturday that I was reminded of the cheeses that we had bought - when I opened the car door and was regaled with the odour of sweaty teenager's socks. No, it wasn't really socks, but the cheese which had been left to fester in the car.

In the event, the cheese was fine, just a little smelly, which is a feature of Pont l'Eveque cheese, but it took a long drive with all windows open to get rid of the smell in the car!