The doctor that shuffled into the surgery on the day in question was no exception. I have seen him before and his world weariness combined with his fragile grasp on the Queen’s language make you feel a bit bad for bothering him with your pesky life-threatening ailments.
Fortunately this time, I was just on a mission to blag some prescriptions; one for malaria tablets and one for sleeping tablets (I learnt my lesson about jetlag in Peru). Within a minute or two, my wish was granted and I was ready to flee.
But then he asked where I was going in Africa and something strange happened. Sparks of curiousity ignited behind his old grey eyes and he began to tell me in fumbled English about how he was born in Angola and how his father was a postman. His father was posted to Africa around 1900 and was tasked with building outposts for the mail run. He was sent out into the Congo with a team of local workmen to hack his way through the jungle and select sites to build shacks for the mail (and presumably mail man) to rest in overnight on it’s journey south.
Dr Congo, as he shall henceforth be known, grew up in one of these shacks with no running water or electricity and only kerosene lamps for light. He said that he vividly remembers swimming in a waterhole near his house only to have a local man tell him to get out of the water immediately. Once he was a safe distance from the water’s edge, the man threw a rock in the pool and about 20 crocodiles appeared, disturbed by the splash.
He went on to regale me with tales of close encounters with belligerent hippos and how he has travelled into all the wildest parts of Africa.
I managed to extract myself from his examination room after 15 fascinating minutes and walked out into a packed waiting room.
Not a single one of those patients knew that a very elderly Tarzan was about to give them a physical …