Three turns past the ragged edge

I realized it about fifteen seconds after we turned left at the “Burma Camp Cantonment” sign on Independence Road. Something was bothering me, but I couldn’t put my finger on the vague unease. It had something to do with the sign – I knew that, but… yes, that was it: I had wondered momentarily how the neighborhood had come to be called “Burma Camp”. We weren’t, of course, anywhere near Burma. We were at least… how far away? I stumbled. I visualized the globe and pinned Burma on it. I mentally drew my string out across the great circle and came up blank – I couldn’t remember where on earth I was. In a car, certainly, but on a larger scale, it took a good ten or more seconds for me to work out, by process of elimination, what continent I was on. Somewhere back there I had stepped across the ragged edge of sleep deprivation into a world where reality was a bit more ephemeral and subjective than could be considered healthy.

I mean, it’s not terribly surprising. Anyone who followed this blog through the Antarctic chronicles could predict that can I make it for about a week at a time under duress before crashing and burning. Sometimes it’s the curl-into-a-ball-in-the-corner-and-whimper show, sometimes I just get loud and angry. Today’s spectacular fail, fortunately, was a relatively benign loss of basic human conceptions: where are we? How does one typically eat food? What do you call a resident of Burkina Faso?

No, the last one was a pop quiz by Laura Drewett, who was justifiably entertained by my predicament – “justifiably” because I had inexplicably and repeatedly called her “Kate” throughout the day. Guys? Trust me on this: even in a business meeting it’s Not A Good Thing to call a woman by the wrong name (or a man, for that matter, but I think our gender roles make it somewhat more excusable).

To plead my case, though: I blame it on Japanese slasher movies. Not that I’ve watched any, mind you. But here in Room 222 at the posh posh posh Accra Movenpick, my next door neighbor in 224 keeps an odd schedule. I don’t know what he does during the day, but each night at about 11 p.m., he’s been turning on the TV, and from then until about 6 in the morning, I’ve been serenaded by the sounds of “Ano ne! Abunai da, yo! Nani? [unpleasant visceral foley effect] Aiiiiiiiiieeeeeee!!!!!

I’ve talked with the hotel management about it, and it’s an awkward situation. I mean, putting my ear against the wall, I can tell that he’s not got the volume blasting – it’s a reasonable level, if there is such a thing for this particular genre. It’s just that our rooms have one of those adjoining door things between them. It’s locked on both sides, so it’s perfectly secure, but it conducts sounds just like it wasn’t there.

So when I talk with them, I try to make it clear that I’m not complaining about him. But if they could find a tactful way to ask his consideration…  In the meantime, there are earplugs and Ambien.

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