Book 1, Chapter 17


Now this is Africa!


Colourful, patterned dresses with big headscarves.

Carrying stuff on their heads.

Babies in a sling.

Proper Africa.

We roll into St. Louis, which is a big scummy beachside shanty town in the very north of the country.

It’s messy in places but it’s got its own charm to it, I guess. It used to be the capital, so it’s full of old derelict French colonial buildings from the 'glory days'.

We shack up in a cheap 'auberge', which is French for hostel.

I reckon we’re the only ones here...

It’s late, and immediately our minds are on food. It’s been a long, tough day and we haven’t eaten since omelettes and croissants for breakfast this morning.

We’re ravenous.

Surprisingly, we manage to find a fairly modern, western, diner-ish style place in town.

Burgers and chips. Of course...

They come out to us and they're massive and greasy and filled with everything they had in the kitchen; beef, eggs, chips, tonnes of salad, all swimming in sauce.

Too big to fit your mouth around...

Two bucks a pop. Yep, two dollars.

It’s just what the doctor ordered, so we each order two.

They disappear in quick succession and the two zombies are starting to rise again like Lazarus.

We polish the feast down with a couple of the local brews, the first drinks since Tony left off with his beer and rum in Nouadhibou.

We’re both fucking thrilled to be in Senegal.

The 'real' Africa.

Life is good.

Delirious. Utterly exhausted.

Vaguely nauseous.

A stonking headache.

I can't stop sweating.

But it’s not hot...

Half-awake, half-asleep, tossing and turning in restlessness that stays for hours. I can't shake it.

It must be nearly sunrise...

My brain is flying all over the place from one strange thought after the next. It won’t settle. It won't let me sleep.

I'm crushingly tired.

Fucking awful.

One clear thought is coming through, over and over again: Malaria.

Symptoms for malaria include fever (tick), headache (tick), chills (nope), sweats (tick), fatigue (tick), nausea (half-a-tick), vomiting (nope). Death (nope).

Can’t forget death...

I know this because Ben's had it. Got it in East Africa.

He said it was “curious to feel what it would feel like to be dying”.

Joy of joys.

Malaria moves fast... And - just for fun - if it's not treated early enough, and the malaria multiplies past some certain 'critical amount', you’re basically fucked; there’s nothing medicine can do to bring it back under control and you end up, eventually, slowly, dead.

I can explain the fatigue, but the rest? No.

I’m waiting for the shakes and chills to confirm it, and then I'm fucking off to hospital.

I’m shattered.

Without warning, my guts turns into a puddle.


I violently shit my entire body weight through the eye of a needle.

I did make it to the toilet.


I shit more than I thought I could possibly have in me... And then more again.

I beat a path between my bed and the toilet for the whole morning till midday.

After holding out for twelve hours, I can't do it anymore; I give in to my bloated nausea, head to the can, and throw up. Hard.

One of those chunders that seems to break the laws of physics because the diameter of it looks like the size of your head as it’s coming flying out at a clip.

An enormous volume of vomit.

Despite sitting in my guts for the whole night and the whole morning, the two burgers haven’t digested one bit.

There's something odd about that...

I need to chew more...

By the time I’m done the only thing hurting anymore are my stomach muscles from being wrung dry like a wet towel.

I feel like hell, but it’s an improvement.

I crash back into bed, and, somehow, sleep comes.

To sit or to kneel? That is the question...

Three days of asking the question.

What a life.

I can't say much about St. Louis, other than to give a disturbingly accurate description of the fittings and décor of the shitter...

I never had the courage to go out of spitting distance of the toilet, till now.

I wander back into the world like a man crippled.

Absolutely wracked.

Despite ticking the 'vomit box' for malaria symptoms, I never got the other two: chills and death. Apparently the chills are the dead giveaway, so it seems that I'm out of the woods on that one...

Lucky but unlucky.

Thank Christ for Ben. He kept me on a strict diet of bananas and bottled water. I don't know how I would have fed myself if I was alone...

Oblivious | Luke Gelmi