Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Not all fun and games...

I am only 2 months away from ending my 1 year adventure in West Africa, and I have been seriously thinking about how I have displayed my life and journey through these blogs.  And I am deeply wrestling with the fact that I have not shared a very real and horrifying part of my life here, and I think it is time you all know.  It's not always rainbows and sunshine with fun times bummin around Africa, and heart warming stories of patients lives being changed.  I have been painting a very sugar-coated picture of my life here on the ship, and I need to let you know the truth about the life-threatening terror I go through here almost daily. 
Living in a port is not easy.  When you visualize a port, you may picture stacks of neatly organized shipping containers, a steady flow of ships docked at the shoreline loading and unloading cargo, and semi trucks following their steady route of carrying products to and fro.  You may even be saying, "yes, I have been in many ports and this is exactly what it's like".  Well let me ask you my friend, have you ever been in a port after dark? 

After preciesely 9:07pm every night, every port around the world is supernaturaly morphed into a deadly jungle of prehistoric creatures lurking around every corner.  The driving force behind the movement of containers in a port is primarily done by a gigantic horrifying creatures called a T-Rex.  You may have mistakenly thought that the T-Rex was extinct, but I can assure you my friends, it most certainly is not!  (many port-savy people may refer to these machines as a "Terex", but that is just a decieving disguise for what they truely are!) 

They are quite silent for such large creatures.  You can hear the sound of their rolling footsteps and eerie machine-like screams just seconds too late.  Their claw marks (which very closely resemble oil-soaked tire tracks) are seen covering the grounds of their latest handy work-  An area you must be sure to avoid, just in case the nasty creeper comes back for more containers. 

Let me fill you in on another little secret- these so-called containers that apparently hold cargo for export... not even close!  They are actually the T-Rex's main weapon for destruction.  The T-Rex digs his fangs into the insanely heavy metal containers and lifts them up high over his head while he slowly creeps though the urban jungle looking for an innocent victim to drop his weapon of mass destruction on- whether it be rat, cockroach or human. 

It takes a highly skilled and trained person (much like myself) to stealthfully maneuver around the port after dark without being spotted by the beety, lazer, night vision eyes of the T-Rex.  It's eyes sit way up on top of its arms so it can better spot it's pray as it lurks around the containers at night.  If you walk carelessly through the port without first stopping, listening, and safely peering down your chosen route, you may just waltz around a corner and find one staring you down, charging straight for you as your body is frozen in terror with no place to hide except to jump down one of the open sewer holes scattered around the port. 
And just to make it more terrifying, once you bravely pass through the main portion of the port and miraculously avoid any encounters with the T-Rex, you have one last obstacle, and that is to make a run for it through a large clearing where a T-Rex could pop out at any minute, his death-filled eyes staring straight at you, his weapon of mass destruction held high over his head, and your only hope is to out run him and reach the safety of the ship's security gate before he dominates you!

Every night I return back to the port, the moto taxi drops me at the front gate, and I stand outside for a brief moment to gather my courage, strap on my running shoes and stealth jacket before bravely entering Jurassic Park part 4.  Some port gaurds may describe me as strange and delirious as I routinely tip toe into the port and assume my best spy-postion; with my back up against a row of containers, carefully side stepping my way to the corner and listening for signs of T-Rex's before Par-Core-ing my way to the next container row.  But they are the delusional ones- living frighteningly close to the edge of disaster and carelessly underestimating the capabilities of the T-Rex's. 

 So next time you are all sitting at home thinking, "Man, Danielle is living the dream over there in Africa- snuggling cute babies and frolicing around in the sunshine".. Well, yes you are correct-- but don't forget about real-life horror film I am daily living through!  It is NOT all fun and games here in Africa!