Friday, April 3, 2009


It’s probably around 11:00pm in Gbong, a rural village when I’m violently woken from my deep sleep. I’ve been staying in this village for the last 3 days, to get a final feel of rural life, and reconnect with the reason and passion that has been driving me for the last year.

Under my mosquito net, outside in the compound on the concrete floor, I’m violently ripped from dreaming about Canada by a sharp pain on my right baby toe. Something has stung me. In Gbong there are many bees, and so immediately I start slapping at my foot in the dark to try and kill the stealth bomber attacking my baby toe.

After 10 blind strikes and yelling “Son of a bitch” repeatedly, I grab my headlight to investigate the kill. Nothing is there. I’ve been stung by bees before, so I search for the black stinger likely to be stuck in my baby toe. I don’t see it, and a fleeting thought that maybe something else stung me passes through my mind. The pain throbbing in my foot is far more than any bee sting I’ve had before, so I start wondering what else it could be.

I leave the mosquito net, a little disappointed at the mirage of safety it has deceived me with, allowing my body to be penetrated by this mysterious night bandit.

“I’m sleeping inside. Something’s bitten me, and I’m sleeping on the bed no matter how hot it is” I say to one of my hosts.

60 seconds has passed since my rude awakening, as I enter my room. Immediately, a sharp pain strikes my inner thigh on my right leg, close to a ‘particularly sensitive spot’ on my body. Naturally freaking out, I immediately think that the bee has managed to crawl up my pant leg close to my crotch and is now attacking for a second round.

One swift pull of the draw string at the waist of my Thai Fishing pants, and they drop to the floor. I search through my boxers for the ninja bee, but to no avail. And again, no signature bee stinger left inside. By this time my foot is throbbing more than ever, and the sharp pain in my thigh is matching the beat.

I return outside when my host says: “if it hurts right here, then you’ve been stung by a scorpion” as he motions to his inner thigh. “Son of a bitch” I think to myself, as revenge becomes my primary objective.

Limping, I check with him around the area to confirm if his diagnosis is correct. After a minute or so, we see the scorpion heading towards my bedroom. It’s small, about half a pinky finger in length. I grab my sandal off my foot, and with ‘great vengeance and furious anger’, strike down upon the black menace.

After we kill it, I sit nursing my throbbing foot, with my two hosts. The man brings me some ointment to rub on my foot and I start to read the label:

{“CURES: All skin disease, boils, waist pains, sexual weakness, body pains, cartha, piles, white, cold, women use, infant disable, cholera, eye troubles, ear pains, breast problems . . . .”}

I laugh as I read the first few words, thinking that all of this must be ridiculous. I recall a bus ride, when a man boarded and started preaching some miracle cream to all the passengers as we hurtled down the highway at 90km/hr. He went on for about 45min about local treatment combined with clinical trials and real doctor approval. After he finishes, people start raising there hands and forking out cash as he sends out small containers of skin cream. At the time I could only think of how easy this con man could have filled some bottles with shea butter made from local women, printed a false label at an internet café; and be ripping off trustworthy Ghanaians. “I’m not using this crap” I think to myself.

Finally I reach the end of the label: {“. . . good for farmers, scorpion bites”}.

“Why not?” I reach in and spread it on my throbbing foot. I sit with my hosts for a while longer, as they all recall stories of when they’ve been stung by scorpions before. Suddenly I don’t feel so sorry for myself, as it seems like quite a common place occurrence in this rural village.

I crawl into bed and try to will myself to fall asleep. As I’m lying, the pain in my toe has spread to my entire foot, and I imagine the scorpion injecting micro razors into my toe that cut my blood vessels with every pulse of my heart. 30min after dreaming of things I’m going to do when I get back to Canada, I manage to fall into a deep slumber.

A first, and hopefully a last, in Ghana.


Saira said...

Eek... awful way to end the trip. Try and get it looked at by a doc. asap though. A cousin of mine got bitten by one back in Pakistan and the fever kept recurring. Also the ache spread all over his body. But dunno what Ghanian scorpions are like. Eitherways only one month to go!

Kyle said...

Nick, so sorry-oh. This sounds like a most unfortunate incident. I could however use some of that cream for this nasty cold I've contracted.

Next time you're in town, buy me a beer and I'll regale you with a tale of how I almost got stung in the most unfortunate place by a scorpion, while doing something that involved squatting...

Les said...

Hi Nick hope you have no after affects from your visitor of the night, made me think of a calypso by ricki jai "scorpion sting she" and one this year "Jep sting naina" Les