My favourite drug combination is probably atovaquone and proguanil, otherwise known as Malarone. I had some great times with my little strip of these tablets on my recent trip to Indo China. How I loved to watch the evening mosquitos gnaw at my young, tender flesh knowing that the vicious little bastards were wasting their time if giving me malaria was what they had in mind. They are so tiny and hard to detect but yet they can kill a man. It wouldn’t be so bad if it was possible to bite them back. Perhaps they would think twice before pumping their deadly micro-organisms into my tastier bits if they had to consider the possibility of lying in a coma themselves for weeks on end. And you only get them in foreign countries, so they don’t understand English, so they haven’t a bloody clue what you’re on about when you go and tell them to pick on someone their own size.
For years I thought Malarone was a no-nonsense, hard-hitting Argentine central defender from the 1960s or a type of pasta, but I was wrong. They are an absolute life saver for while I was away I was not only bitten by insects but also half drowned in Vietnamese beer, I had to cross the paths of five million motor scooter riders to get to the other side of a road in Ho Chi Minh City, I cycled hundreds of kilometres without a sniff of a sore arse, I rubbed shoulders with rats the size of cats on a late night pub crawl, I socialised with a bloke who lives near Croydon, I went two weeks without a pint of Guinness and I ate a tarantula, and I’m still alive and I’m not pregnant either. They surely must be the most magnificent little pills in the world. If ever I have another child I am going to call it Malarone.
So, taking all of this into consideration, I was very sad when I took the last dose of my Malarone course this morning. It was like the end of an era. My trip took months of planning and preparation and it turned out to be quite a challenge in terms of seeing it through but now that the medication requirements have been met, all that remains for me to do is put away my washing, sort out my photographs and have an AIDS test and the whole experience will be a fond but distant memory.
This first week back at home has been very hard. I feel that my home is outside of England and I have felt homesick. I have felt jaded from my cycle ride in the hot South East Asian sun. I have felt cold being away from the South East Asian sun and instead exposed to the harsh wintry weather of Wiltshire.
My Malarone dealer ordering me another stash.
The only thing that has saved me from overdosing on a big bag of black market Malarone has been my job. Although demanding and time consuming it is wonderful to be able to return from a trip and to sit and talk as I work about my experiences to people who are fascinated by my tales.. Some of my customers would rather talk about the pretty patterns in the fabric on their slippers or the stuff that exudes from their vascular ulcers. Old Joe told me that he couldn’t get his head round the concept of going on holiday to a country where you don’t get a sandwich for your lunch and refused to continue the conversation. But the vast majority are full of questions of lands they will never visit and their eyes and faces light up when I provide the answers.
And, of course, the money they give me for treating their feet will help me pay for my next trip . . . and my next packet of Malarone.