one last word from nairobi

I realized at some point late last night that I had omitted my snake story from my previous blog. It’s a good one so I had to write one last entry.

One of the instructors in the field school, Connor, who had been a student the previous year, was awoken at 3am one night by a most likely startled, spitting cobra biting his forearm. Yes, that’s right. A cobra bit him. Luckily for Connor, he’s a very tough guy…not a small man, and raised on a farm, so we are very fortunate that it was him as opposed to one of the young ladies, many of whom were quite petite. As I understand it, Connor did not sleep with a mosquito net. Now, a snake can probably bite through a net but let’s think about how the snake got to him in the first place. Snakes don’t bite people for fun. They do it as a defense. But Connor was sleeping. So what happened? A mystery, but it may have been that the snake was slinking around the bed looking for a nice rodent to eat or a warm place to coil up and was checking out the top of the bed when Connor moved and startled the snake. The snake reacted as snakes do by biting him. I was not at base camp when the snake bite incident occurred. I was at Ileret, but from what I hear, it went something like this…

Snake bit Connor around 3am. He yelled that a snake had bit him. Steve thought Connor was just dreaming but I guess Steve or someone else woke up and went to see what happened (this part is not entirely clear to me). Once the proper people were informed they called the flying doctors on the satellite phone and decided what to do. Because it was the middle of the night and the nearest airstrip is too short for the doctors’ plane, Jack and a couple of chaperones drove poor Connor to Allia Bay where there is another, longer airstrip. That is a two hour drive. So the poor kid is suffering, venom is making him a little crazy, and apparently he is swearing quite a lot and then apologizing a lot. The two chaperones, Jack and Chris M. went with Connor on the plane to Nairobi. Once on the plane, the doctors decided to hold off on giving him the anti-venin because I guess people can actually die if the incorrect dose/type is given. Speaking of which, Paul W. had killed the snake so that the doctors would know precisely what kind of snake had bit him.

I heard that Paul poured boiling hot water on the snake and then just banged the hell out of it. Interesting. If I have not mentioned it previously, Paul is my hero.

So. That’s the snake story. Oh…well, at the hospital Connor finally got the anti-venin and then flew home a few days later where he will be getting (or has already gotten) a skin graft because the skin around the bite had become necrotic. Yikes.

What’s the moral of the story? Sleep with a mosquito net if you sleep in the bandas at KF base camp. It may not protect you from a snake bite but it might keep the snake from getting close enough in the first place. I did sleep with a net, so no worries there. Lots of people apparently moved out of the bandas after that. Or some people did. From what I hear.

One last word…and this is really directed to a couple of specific people…I finally ate at Haandi! One of the best Indian spots in Nairobi. So now I have eaten at Haandi, Open House and Smokeys. I have eaten almost nothing but Indian food for the past 4 days. Can’t get enough of it. It’s the best! Short of going to India that is.

Okay. I should go. It’s only 2:20pm here but I think I’ll go buy some coffee beans to bring home and sit and read Darwin for a bit. Mmmm….Kenyan coffee. Good stuff. My flight isn’t until 10:05pm but I need to take a shower and my friend Jen’s place before we go to the airport as well so…stuff to do. Must run.

Until I next travel…


One thought on “one last word from nairobi

  1. Hi — I just stumbled across your blog and realized that you did the Koobi Fora Field School! I was a student this past summer, and heard stories up and down about “that one time when Connor got bitten by a snake.” Small. World.

    Anyway, I hope you had a great time! It was like nothing I've ever experienced before, and nothing I'll ever forget.

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