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Help, Heeeelp! The Amphipods Are Here…

December 4th, 2013 - 3:49 pm

Now to the shrimp.  In the mid-to-late eighties I spent a lot of time in Brazzaville, the capital of what is now called the Republic of Congo in central Africa.  I was part of a small team working with the country’s president, Denis Sassou-N’Guesso, to find a diplomatic solution to the civil war in Namibia.  Not only did this effort succeed, but it led to peace in the two big civil wars of the time, in Angola and Mozambique, and to the release of a remarkable number of prisoners, including, eventually, Nelson Mandela.  There’s a documentary about these efforts, largely focused on my French friend Jean-Yves Ollivier, if you’re interested in the details, and I’m going back to Brazzaville shortly, for the first time in many years, for the 25th anniversary of the happy event.

Anyway, I became a very frequent visitor to Brazzaville, came to love it (great food, great art–the only school of oil painting in Central Africa is there, the school of Poto Poto) and I developed a passion for their fresh-water shrimp.  I consumed epic quantities.  Never any bad reaction.  One evening I was sent to Libreville (Gabon) to discuss a matter with President Omar Bongo, and before leaving Brazzaville I had a shrimp feast.  The next morning I awoke to find that I had had an allergic reaction.  Giant hives.  My ears and lips were enormous, my eyelids were much too big, and, well, I looked ridiculous.  And I didn’t have any good antihistamines in my kit.  They were back in Brazzaville.  So I hightailed it to a local pharmacy, but I didn’t know the French word for “antihistamine,” which I kept repeating with my best accent.  No go.  I explained that I was swollen up, but the pharmacist insisted that I looked fine, and eventually I went to see Bongo.  He didn’t know what I looked like, so he didn’t remark on my giant hives, and we talked…eventually I returned to Congo, took the pills, and survived.  I never ate those yummy shrimp again, and thereafter I traveled with an emergency self-injector syringe full of adrenaline, in case I got a hive in my throat that would block breathing.

So I take this amphipod business personally…you would, too.  And I’m keeping Watson, the killer poodle, away from the waters of Rock Creek Park.

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All Comments   (7)
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Sorry about the near death episode due to shrimp. Quite frightening given your description. Hopefully your experience can lead to someone else being saved from it. I have zero experience with food allergies. Thanks for teaching me something about them.
That said, your column inspired this thought: why cannot this county allow citizens to petition for a particular endangered species to be moved to some safe zones where they would be carefully allowed to flourish, and where they would hopefully be exported to other places they might flourish as well. That gets them out of critical construction sites where they are forever vulnerable. There are plenty of places where America could set up endangered species refuges. I would love to visit one, while abiding by restrictions designed to protect the refuge’s charges.
27 weeks ago
27 weeks ago Link To Comment
Um, in reference to this: , "In 1973, I spent several days each month in Israel, coaching the Israeli national bridge team."

... um, that's a joke, right? Really? You FLEW to another country to "coach" card players? And that would be in the midst of the Yom Kippur war (presumably)?

If this is even faintly true, I request further details, pleaseeeeese! :)
-FF
33 weeks ago
33 weeks ago Link To Comment
Michael, how then is it so hard for Chevy Chase to learn from Windsor, Ontario when it comes to how responsibilities within the realm of local government are handled.

I refer to this: http://news.nationalpost.com/2013/12/03/across-the-river-from-bankrupt-detroit-windsor-boasts-five-years-without-a-tax-hike/
33 weeks ago
33 weeks ago Link To Comment
"This [Hays Spring] amphipod measures 10 millimeters (0.39 in) in length. Because it lives underground, it is white in color and eyeless." --Wikipedia

Michael - the amphipods at Red Lobster are bigger and you don't have to dig through the mud for them.
33 weeks ago
33 weeks ago Link To Comment
As Bullwinkle would say: "Gee big, I dig"! or "Mussolini's nightmare"!
33 weeks ago
33 weeks ago Link To Comment
The Purple Line is just another in a long line of bloated, Statist boondoggles. Hey - they've all been disasters thus far, maybe this one will be different. The shrimp is your best friend. Give it a hug if you see one.
33 weeks ago
33 weeks ago Link To Comment
I wanted to believe you were spending more time in Italy, because I wish I could.
34 weeks ago
34 weeks ago Link To Comment
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