On Sunday we took our visiting friend German for a nice long walk in the Forêt Mondah. It's so close to Libreville and yet so magical: a two-hour hike in the forest, which ends with a beautiful, deserted beach, perfect for rest and picnic before going back. Giggling silently at German's doubts about what to apply first - sunscreen or anti-mosquito spray - I packed my backpack, an experienced tropical hiker myself, grabbed the usual shorts, T-shirt and headscarf, and off we went.
We enjoyed the walk and got home safely. When I was getting out of the car, however, I noticed that I had a mysterious bite on the inner side of my thigh, right above the knee. It was rather big (five centimetres in diameter easily), red and swollen but, apart from taking my usual anti-histamine Zyrtec, I ignored it, as there was not much I could do.
On checking my leg the following morning, I was shocked to see that the bite had grown twice its original size overnight. It was now huge, red, swollen and amputation seemed the only solution. Wondering how I would teach Head Shoulders Knees and Toes next term with only one leg, I made our poor friend (who, by the way, having rightly ignored my giggling, came home without a single bite!) examine my thigh every twenty minutes, thus intimating much more than was appropriate and dangerously stretching the limits of our friendly relationship. When Jandro got home for lunch, the boys decided it was time to show the thing to a doctor. Especially as it wouldn't stop growing!
I dutifully went chez le medecin, who gave me a tired You again? look. I explained my problem and he told me to show him the thing, the sight of which instantly made him abandon the usual apathy. Wow, that's huge!, he said animatedly. Huge! Impressionnant! He gave me an injection which hurt a lot, and two other strong anti-histamine drugs to take at home. I am supposed to rest.
What bit me? Funny thing is, I've no idea, as I didn't feel a thing. Probably a spider, and a vicious one, too. Venomous bite, the somewhat vague diagnose was. And again a useful conclusion: Always, always put on long trousers in the forest. Even this close to Libreville.