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Excess Baggage


Photo: Maasai chief pool partner, Diani Beach, Kenya
Back in Diani Beach, I stole the title of 'East African Pool Player of the Year' from a surprised Maasai chief; initiated a prostitute turf war; and made friends with actor Keith Pearson who appears alongside Ralph Fiennes in 'The Constant Gardener'. But, rather than bore you with all that, I'm going to put you out of your misery: no, I'm not signing off just yet, for it's the part you've all been waiting for; the question I know you've all been dying to ask...

Did I need my anti-bottie-crises capsules? The short answer is no. But, in a cruel twist of fate, I needed the very thing I had not anticipated: all that preparation to avoid the inevitable and the only 'Preparation' I needed was... 'H'. I felt as if someone had force fed me a baobab tree in my sleep. Root first. And, true to legend, that obdurate log wasn't budging.

Peristaltic paralysis is not something you bargain for on a visit to Africa. It's like India - home of the infamous Delhi-belly - it screams Diocalm! My medical 'squit squad' sat on standby in the corner of my bedroom... mocking me. I stared at it glumly, willing it somehow to metamorphasise into a WMD, when my thoughts turned to a more practical concern: my appetite was healthier than ever... so where was all this food going? I'd been in Kenya for more than a week now without so much as an itch in the intestines. There were only a few days left and I must be carrying several kilos more than when I entered the country. Would I be penalised for excess baggage?

I upped my intake of fruit to serving-platter sized portions and managed to persuade the group to go for dinner at the highly spiced 'African Pot' for the third night running. The next morning, while my frantic friends dashed to the bathroom, I sat like a drugged slug after a boiled egg eating contest. So much for fruit and veg - I needed dynamite.

Two days and six meals later I was so desperate I fished out the "dos and don'ts" pamphlet my doctor had given me before I left and proceeded to do everything it said 'don't' and ignored anything it said 'do'. I ordered food and drinks (with ice) in shanty cafes I wouldn't otherwise take my dog - even if he'd been diagnosed with an incurable disease and given two days to live. And when the waiter proudly assured me his restaurant 'always washes the salad using bottled water', I promptly changed my order to seafood soup. Oh, what I'd have given for a case of the squits...

Several others in my group were suffering too, but they were struck with the more foreseeable symptoms on an African holiday - for which I was sickeningly well equipped. And while they rooted through my medical goodybag for industrial-strength Diocalm, I carefully quizzed them all on how they may have contracted it.

One girl had a really bad time of it. Her case was so extreme she'd passed out in the night. Assuming an air of concern I, dutifully, sat at her bedside, mopping her brow - and then I interrogated her. I scribbled frantically on a scrap of paper as she weakly retraced her steps back to a restaurant she'd been to that morning. I booked a table there for breakfast.

I'll spare you any further details. Suffice to say, the day before we left Kenya the birds were singing, the monkeys were swinging and all was rectified in the rectal region;)

I left the 'dark continent' a lot lighter.


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