The Human Pincushion - Soap Mission Africa Update
.....but first, The Visa Saga - Getting a visa for Nigeria has proved to be extremely frustrating for many of our group, apparently typical of dealings with African beaurocracy. The Nigerian Embassy London website seemed to be fairly clear about what was required, except for the pages that I couldnt access because my computer told me it had detected a spyware virus and wouldnt let me go any further. The website happily declared that I could pay for my visa online, however I couldnt find an online payment system or shopping cart or button of any description that said 'pay now'. It was all very confusing.
I downloaded a form (along with the virus which meant spending half a day cleaning my computer) and filled it out by hand as best I could. I posted it to the embassy along with postal orders for £70, my invitation letter, confirmed flight booking, my passport, photographs of me, special delivery return envelope and a polite letter which gave the impression that I was an old lady with very little IT experience and so if I had made any mistakes please forgive me. I cant begin to tell you the experiences of my fellow soapmakers... t'would make your hair curl. One of them did find an online payment button and as a result has had nearly £300 taken fraudulently from her account. Another had an appointment to visit the embassy only to arrive and find that it was shut for a Nigerian holiday! As it turned out I got off lightly, my visa arrived safely less than a week later. I also paid less than many of my colleagues, there appears to be a clause on the website that says they reserve the right to charge whatever they feel like depending upon who you are.... I kid you not!
So today I went to see the nurse about jabs and malaria tablets. It would seem that all my innoculations have lapsed (well I guess I thought my adventurous days were behind me). I am now innoculated against hepatitus A, Typhoid, Polio & Diptheria (all free, it's great to get stuff for free isn't it!) Then we got onto the subject of malaria. This, to be honest is the one thing I was worried about - kidnapping, terrorism et al fade by comparison to this horrid, horrid disease that can plague you for the rest of your life - so I ended up paying nearly £70 for the best of a bad bunch of tablets which should give me some protection.
I declined the yellow fever jab (I do not intend to be cavorting around the jungle, unless kidnapped of course), I also declined the rabies injection (I will not be stroking cats, dogs, rhinos or other indigenous wildlife but if one makes a bee line for me and I can't get out of the way, I have less than 24 hours to seek medical aid which may or may not be available in Nigeria) and a hepatitus xyz (or at least several letters of the alphabet) as I do not intend to swap bodily fluids with anyone. I also declined the TB as according to the World Health Organisation Slough is actually a hot spot for TB and no one ever offerred me an innoculation before going there!
So that is me just about set. Except for the teeny clause at the bottom of my travel insurance which says that I am not covered for anything at all if I am going to a country which the Foreign Office says I shouldnt. Well Bugger!!! Is all I can say to that. Travel insurance is very like one of those hospital gowns... you think you are covered... but you are NOT!
Oh and the hedgehog? Well I just thought he was cute!