Thursday, December 5, 2013

First step to Africa

My work as an author has brought me to more than half the 50 states, Guam, and Chile (with a revelatory puddle jump to Easter Island), and now I’ve had the great and unexpected privilege of being invited to Africa.

In January 2014, I will be making my first trip to that sacred continent to speak for four days at the International School of Tanganyika in Dar es Salaam. To say that is exotic for me is like saying Batkid got some media attention. (Both huge understatements.) To say I am hugely excited is also like saying Batkid got some media attention.

On 11/26/13, I took my first step to Africa (aside from arranging the schedule by e-mail with my kind host).

Not booking a flight.

Not applying for a visa.

No, I started with the vaccinations.

There were so many good ones to choose from.

The three I got were the following:

  • hepatitis A (need to get part 2 in six months to a year from now, but part 1 will cover me in Africa)
  • typhoid; you can contract both hepatitis A and typhoid through contaminated food or water
  • polio; I would’ve been vaccinated against this as a child but need it again now, since the disease is not eradicated in Africa as it is in America

You can contract hepatitis B through fluid exchange including contaminated needles, so that is low risk for me (Batkid analogy again). I plan to get all my tattoos before I go to Tanzania.

There is no vaccination for malaria. There is prevention, however: pills. You start taking one a day two days before leaving and continue throughout your time in Africa plus for seven days after.

You won’t be allowed into Tanzania if you’ve been through another country where yellow fever is present—even if it is only a layover in which you don’t even leave the plane.

You see that I learned quite a bit in that short visit to the doctor. 

And once in Africa, I will learn as much as any other student I meet there…

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