There comes a point in relationships when you must decide whether to continue using protection or assume the risks that come along without it. Of course, I’m referring to the decision of whether or not to continue taking malaria prophylaxis when you commit to a long term stay in a malaria prone country. Uganda and I have been together for quite some time and, despite my diligent usage of pills, I ended up impregnated with little baby phylum Apicomplexa aka malaria parasites.
For the first time in high definition, the moment of conception has been documented (WARNING: The following contains explicit material for parasites under the age of 18—please have your parents’ permission or close your eyes, that is, if you are even evolved enough to have them)
Following my spell with malaria, despite my usage of prophylaxis, my dilemma was this: should I continue to take something or just accept my inevitable fate? There are only a few malaria prophylaxis options. I had been taking Doxycycline when I contracted it and that can only be taken for 6 months. My other option was Malarone, which is effective, not known to have side effects and also very expensive. At $300/month (more than half of my salary) this did not seem like a feasible option.
My only other alternative: Larium. Amongst its side effects, known to be severe and permanent are the following: depression, insomnia, hallucinations, anxiety, paranoia, confusion and suicidal ideation. I had taken Larium before without experiencing any of these side effects but now knowing the extent of them it was all I could think about. Was my dream about talking animals normal because dreams are inherently strange or was that the Larium? Am I thinking today was a bad day because I have Larium induced depression or was it just an awful day? Or no, wait. Why am I overanalyzing my every action asleep and awake??? Dear God, it’s because paranoia is also a side effect of Larium. I had become paranoid I was becoming paranoid.
Needless to say I was going bananas, but if there is one place to do it, it would be here because it seems Ugandans have also gone bananas, maybe just not in the way I did. Bananas are a staple crop throughout East Africa and have been integral to its cuisine throughout history.
They are eaten ripe but also while they are still green.
Peeled and steamed, they are known as matoke—along with beans and malakwong (more on that later!) they are part of my daily lunch
Since, as we discussed before, Uganda is the home to nuts and bananas, I decided to combine the two.
Banana Nut Bread
Makes Two Loafs
5 Cups Sifted All Purpose Flour
2 Teaspoons Baking Powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 Teaspoon Salt
1/2 Teaspoon Cinnamon
1 Cup Softened Butter
1 1/4 Cup Sugar
1 1/4 Cups Milk
4 Large Eggs
5 Bananas, Extra Ripe
2 Cups Chopped Walnuts
Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease two loaf pans and line with parchment paper.
Combine all the dry ingredients. Mash ripened bananas with a fork and set aside. In a separate bowl, cream together butter and sugar. Add in eggs, one at a time and then the mashed bananas. Alternate adding the dry ingredients and milk to the banana mixture and mix until combined. Add in 1 cup of chopped walnuts and pour into the lined loaf pans. Sprinkle the remaining walnuts on top and bake until a knife inserted into the center comes out clean, about one hour.
A Side Note: I only lasted a month on Larium, stopping after listening to this episode of This American Life.