I am 900 words into an extensive Tumu blog I promise!!!! And it will be here soon but thought I would write a quick blog about the last week as there have been a few firsts that you might want to hear about. Shortly, in another blog that is yet to be written, you will be hearing about my exploits in Wa where we had a rather important VSO meeting with lots of our partners. Well after that meeting a few of us volunteered to write up the report for this.
The upside of volunteering for this was I would get a day out of the office to head to Jirapa to write the report and see some other volunteers. We decided that last Friday would be the best time as I could then spend a long weekend and casually drive back on Sunday afternoon. Great plan, only one slight hiccup..... On Thursday, 15 km outside of Tumu, on my first major long distance bike ride, I had my first crash. Now there is a part of me that would love to spin some tale, involving a baby, countless goats, a overturned Tro on fire, me being hugely heroic and countless gifts being showered on my by grateful mothers and model like female Ghanaians due to my bravery and general awesomeness, but unfortunately it was mundane to the extreme. No other people/animals were involved; it was purely my own fault. Due to excitement of my journey/full safety kit (for the first time since my training)/ a shade of arrogance etc I was probably going about 10 km too fast (in my defence that was still only around 55-60 km an hour, not exactly setting any land speed records) and realised a little late there was a rather large group of boulders ahead. This lead to me breaking hard with my right hand, which meant to my front wheel locked up, following this my back wheel hit a patch of sand, lost grip and down I went.....on the plus side I did avoid the rocks!
I could wiggle all my toes, move all my fingers. My jacket had taken the brunt of the hit on my upper body, a few scratches on my visor, a rip in my jeans, nothing too serious...except there is blood, my blood, hummm that knee looks a bit shaken up.
One thing that is very Ghanaian is that when you hurt yourself or something goes wrong they apologise to you over and over again! Since my accident, everyone I meet, whether I know them or not, will say 'ohhhh, sorry, sorry, awwwwww, sorry!' over and over again. It was rather confusing that the people who pulled over to help me after I had fallen constantly apologised, no matter how many times I told them it was not their fault! They then promptly told my exactly why it was my own fault that I crashed (think I preferred the sorry's). Panic breaking is bad..... Apparently with my massive dirt bike suspension, I future I should just take the hit (good advice until you fall into a hole the size your bike and then I will have to readjust this mantra).
My bike did not seem to have anything too majorly wrong with I (It turns out later I have bent the entire steering mechanism to the left meaning I had to ride with the handle bars pointing to the right, which takes a little getting used to) I headed back to Tumu to clean myself up.
I had been a bit sniffy about the MASSIVE medical kit my mother had snuck into my bag. It kept getting bigger and bigger in the days before my departure for Ghana, but as always, mothers know best as suddenly I had a need to non-stick dressings, antiseptic wipes, creams, liquids, tape, and the countless other things I applied to my knee when I arrived home. (See photos for full effect!)
Being annoyed at myself for falling off and having a bit of a stubborn streak, I wrapped up the wound, and the next morning tried the same journey again. This time was much more successful until I got 20 minutes outside of Jirapa where I promptly broke down with a flat tire in a small village called 'Ving Ving.' Fortunately the whole village come out to stare at me and my moto and a few men got out a tire puncture repair kit and went to town on my back wheel while I ate some mangos. An hour and a half later and my tyre was fixed, well sort of. A long discussion in the local language ensured which finished with the words '10 minutes' and then hysterical laughter. I think they were discussing how long I was going to last! Not promising.... They then frantically pumped up my tire and told me to go as quickly as possible!
Inevitably 8 minutes down the road my bike gave up again. Fortunately a rescue team from Jirapa was sent out (a fitter, who is a man with a bag of tools and odds and ends came out on the back of Ellie's bike) and we were having a cold pure water and pear Alvaro in no time at the local nunnery (the only restaurant in town!). Unfortunately, though not surprisingly, this journey had not done wonders for my leg, (I was convinced, slightly optimistically, that my wound would have healed by this point!) so another dose of cleaning and prodding took place and I settled in for a relaxing afternoon and night.
The following day we biked a short distance to Lawra for mac and cheese (was amazing! Even though it was only a cheese sauce mix) and garlic bread and then was confronted by a horrified Sarah who was quite convinced my leg was going to fall off if we did not get me to a hospital ASAP. It was probably quite good to have her around as her hyper worrying combined with my slightly blasé attitude towards the slight mishap on my knee lead to quite a happy medium, although after 3 days did come to a bit of a head!
It started gently;
'I spoke to my mum and she thinks the pinkness around the edges could be a sign of infection, we should go have it checked out,'
'Oh don't worry, I have had loads of scabs, that's just new skin.'
To slightly more forceful;
'I have a friend who is a nurse and I told her your symptoms and she is worried,'
'Its loads better, hardly any unknown liquid coming out of it anymore, I think it's almost healed.'
To very intimidating;
'Right James, we are going to the hospital and you have no choice in the matter.....'
'I don't want to, you can't make me' (in whiny child's voice)
'We are going to the hospital now or...I will... I will... CALL YOUR MOTHER!'
Well that shut me up, and grumbling under my breath we headed off to the local hospital with me travelling side-saddle on the back with my leg stretched out (apparently this is absolutely hilarious to any local who saw us!). I have to admit the hospital was much nicer then I thought it would be. After Sarah had argued for ten minutes with a nurse about some forms I was meant to fill out that I did not fill out (I spent the time with a bemused look on my face and breaking up the argument to ask if I could weigh myself on the scales, the 'petulant' child to the end! I found out I had lost 4 kg which was nice!) We finally got to the point that it was agreed that I could see the doctor.
It then transpired that all the doctors were on lunch! After waiting around, visiting a friend in the local ward and other bits and bobs, the doctors were still on lunch and so we gave up. One - nil to James!!!!!
I ended up having a lovely week, where I got looked after and every night was spent with the local Deputy Chief of Police, his friend, Sarah and I eating extravagant meals (yam chips, mango sorbet, pancakes!) and playing card games.
I finally got to the point where I could bend my leg without the scabs cracking and yesterday I made the uneventful journey home to Tumu, where all my local GES engaged in a round of 'oh, sorry' and 'How is your health?' in very concerned tones as if they were worried that I would drop dead at any minute!
It's good to be home!
PS I only just remembered that I also shaved off all my hair while in Lawra! Will post some pics of it soon!
Homework: Come up with an eventful, within the realms of possibility, story about how I hurt my leg. Motorcycle must be included! (She is now named Dory)
Marks for Homework
J. Hume, A + Top of the class
G-Man, Simon Heale A (Not sure if you cheated by looking up the difference between 2 and 4 stroke motors!)
Capt/Agi/Anna/Camilla/Jane/Diana/Jem/Monty/Penny/Vicky/Anyone else who has commented! A - (Although special mention to Bonham for ride the croc but lost a mark as you are a primary school teacher!)
Everyone else D -!
Looking forward to those letters! ;- )