“Say, Petka, some old woman on the plane told me not to eat the fruits here. Is that true?”
“Well, it’s dangerous.”
Breathe, Petka, breathe… 5,4,3,2,1 chill out, breathe. Smile.
“Ok. When you buy an orange in Zagreb, what do you do first? “
“Wash it. ”
“Great, that’s exactly what you’ll do here too. Next? “
“Peel it.” “Great. And?”
“And I eat it! –
“Great! That’s what you’ll do here too.”
I understand. They scared me too, with thousand diseases and dangerous nonsense. I carried more first aid kits then underwear on my first trip to Kenya. The only truth is that you only need the same behavior, the same habits that you live in your „normal life“ on the „safe“ side of the globe. Now when I say that you’re more likely to catch a disease in your home then in Kenya, you’d send me to hell. But think about it. It doesn’t take a lot to come to the conclusion. Before the trip to the East Africa and other heavenly ends of the world it is mandatory to ask around for your own safety and health. That’s called self-responsibility.
Before my first arrival to Kenya, I called the Health bureau in Zagreb and acquired information on possible vaccinations which are recommended for those parts of the world. The list began with the yellow fever.
Yellow fever sounds terrible and unfamiliar to us. It continued with a long list of potential health risks. When I added up all the prices of the vaccines it cost more then the entire vacation.
3 weeks before the flight I decided to get vaccinated against the yellow fever. Only yellow fever ! The kind doctor lady just asked „Are you alergic to eggs?“ – „No, God forbid!“ The vaccine and the eggs don’t like each other very much, I guess. A tiny prick and I was done. No more shots, no side-effects or anything out of the ordinary except a little yellow booklet – a certificate from the WHO that I’m vaccinated. That yellow booklet is a good thing to have handy. It’s really neccessary if you go some other African country and the other parts you might visit on the other side of the globe. In case you are missing your yellow booklet, for example, on Zanzibar you will be vaccinated right there on the airport. All other vaccines from the aforementioned list are your own decision. Personally, I spent the money on souveniers, candy, food and water for the kids. I am healthy and happy all these years in the African environment. I don’t behave in any manner different from the one I do in Zagreb, regarding my health. Viral diseases, colds – I don’t even count those, you don’t have to come to Kenya to catch one of those.
Malaria. The word itself is frightening. That’s what we were taught, that’s what we read and heard. I remember the first time I met a young waitress in a hotel in my first Kenyan accommodation, I saw her sweating and breathing heavily. „Are you alright?“ I asked her. „Yeah, yeah, I’m ok. Nothing bad, I’ve just have malaria, it’s my third day, tomorrow I’ll be as good as new.“Hey wait. The girl has malaria, that terrible disease and yet she is alive and kicking?“ – I asked myself while taking the anti-malaria pills that I got in my homeland. They said I should do it. From my experience, I’ve seen men take that medicine with side-effects like dizziness, weakness and stomach issues. I personally had no problems medicating, though. Luckily, I came to see that the medication isn’t really all that bad. There are a million other ways to treat or prevent malaria and healthy body – harmless for the organism and the overall health of the consumer. There are mosquitoes, of course, in Croatia and all over the world. Insect repellents, sleeping safety nets, a ventilator made to cool the space and drive away mosquitoes too (I learned that here too!). There is a number of safe treatments if you’re really afraid of something you shouldn’t really be afraid of.
When you live here, the perception of malaria and all those terrible things on which you listen, read about changed completely. And everything you thought you knew actually you did not know anything. Pure prejudice.
If you feel any symptoms like sweating, high body temperature or such and you start to panic, every single medical clinic does the malaria tests for just a few coins, while also diagnosing the type of malaria should it show up on the test. In case of malaria, the therapy is administered instantly. It lasts a few days and it’s really dirt-cheap.
Skin color has nothing to do with it – malaria is real. It isn’t as „dark“ as they taught us. When you see that the three-capsule medication costs nearly 10HRK or 2 $ on a small kiosk in the middle of the nowhere, you’ll laugh at life and at yourself.
You should be more careful about lying under a palm tree like a real tourist!
The risk of getting injured by a falling coconut is higher than the risk of catching malaria!
- You wash your hands at home?
- You don’t drink water out of puddles and muddy creeks?
- You shake hands in your homeland with people known and unknown?
- You wash your fruit and vegetables?
- You get medicine in your local pharmacy?
- You drink drinks with ice cubes?
- You eat at restaurants and pubs?
- You shop in malls, stores, supermarkets?
Kenya is amazing.
It would be a shame if you drowned in the sea of your own prejudice