During the 1990s, my work led me to spend many months in Nigeria where as I already mentioned elsewhere the living conditions were not always very easy.
Moreover, in this country, despite the fact that we were at sea, we regularly had the visit of various types of insects. Among these, one could find a superbly colored flying insect which once posed, had the particularity to ride their small wings with the hind legs and then introduce them in a kind of backpack.
These charming beetles blown away by a wind coming from land arrived by whole swarm and succeeded without problems to install themselves anywhere into the barge, but with a preference for our cabins.
The first time I saw them I was not hesitant to crush them with my thumb because I did not want that these beetles finished in my sheets.
This was off course a very bad idea because very quickly a fairly bright burn was felt followed by degeneration of the skin.
And this is how I learned to take care of what my Nigerian friends called the ACID FLY or more commonly called in English the Nairobi fly.
Very quickly over the following days, I learned that one of the only ways to avoid contact with their corrosive venom was to gently blow them off rather to chase them by a flick.
Easier said than done and despite this advice it happened to crush the beast on the skin. Fortunately, we had at that time in our brilliant diver’s community one diver commonly nicknamed “Jean-Louis the offshore Rika Zaraï” who knew good number of old wives cures.
He had considered the problem during some time, and so one morning he announced us that he had found a cure for these painful itching.
- Since we are dealing with an acid, well let us neutralize it by a base.
Elementary my dear Watson and where can we find a basis? In SOAP off course.
Believe me or not, but the trick worked and the burning sensation was quickly soothed.
So for me since then, I had taken the habit to put a small piece of SOAP in the pocket of my overall, which helped me more than once except this damn day of June 92.
That day I arrived at the end of my 6 week stay onboard of my small platform and was already looking forward to go on leave the next day.
In the water, Philippe one of my expat divers also due to leave at the same time as me, was busy to dig out a length of a 4” pipeline so that he could cut it and allow us to recover the rusted the riser.
To do his work, he used a pressure water lance that allowed him to disaggregate the ground lying above the pipe.
He was occupied from about 70 minutes, when all of a sudden, I heard a great “Hah” on the radio. Immediately, I asked Philippe what was happening.
While moaning in pain, he told me that he had just cut his knee with one or the other crap lying on the bottom.
Immediately, I made stop the water lance and asked him if he needed the standby diver to help him to come up.
He told me not and began its ascent while the tender picked up his umbilical.
Fortunately for him, he had no decompression stops to do and so could come back immediately to the surface. Escalating the ladder was a bit difficult and once on deck, we could effectively see that his neoprene was entailed with a large tear at the left knee level.
The wound appeared to be deep but it was not possible to see it properly because it was completely encrusted with the mud in which the diver had worked.
Result, an immediate passage under the shower so that I could clean all this as much as possible. Yeks! The injury was really deep; a cut of at least 5 cm in length departed the skin from the bone of the patella.
Despite the pain, Philippe showed lots of courage while I raised the flap of skin to wash out the remains of mud with the water jet.
During my first aid work I realized immediately that his injury was too important to be treated on board, and therefore asked the barge captain to call the basis of Escravos to send us a chopper as quickly as possible.
Once his wound cleaned and bandaged our injured diver was transferred on the helideck and half an hour later he was en route to the base where the doctor took him in charge.
In the planning of the day's work, I had planned to remove the old riser Philippe was working on but because of the incident, I was now missing a diver.
No problem I thought I'll go and will cut the pipe myself.
As time was pressing a little bit, I quickly picked up my swimsuit that was drying on the railing and put it on together with my neoprene diving suit.
Then while my mates began to equip myself, I suddenly felt that something began to irritate my penis. I understood immediately what was happening.
- Quick, Quick, dress me out I screamed thrashing around like a fool.
Once completely stripped off, I could see what I feared. A crushed acid fly laid down in my slip.
- My SOAP, where is my SOAP?
Immediately I made a sprint to my cabin and gently rubbed the SOAP on my poor dick. As usual the burning sensation disappeared fairly quickly, but the acid did have the time to do his work and already a beautiful reddish spot made its appearance.
My God I thought I hope that he will not fall !
As the damage was done and I could somehow do nothing more to it for the moment, I decided to go back to work and finish the cutting of 4 inches pipe.
The next morning, small peek at the damage. Not nice to look at it, but anyway when you got to go you got to go.
My replacement arrived in the morning and after a quick passage of the instructions, I went up in the helicopter which brought me back to the base.
There, I found the poor Philippe who apparently had had a very bad night.
Indeed, after its landing, he had been supported by an African doctor who, according to his statements, had not been tender with him.
Then, in the afternoon departure for Lagos where we arrived an hour later after a nice flight over the Bush.
Once arrived at national airport, I took Philippe’s arm over my shoulder to assist him as best I could because he was really struggling to move and when entering the hall told him:
- OK my friend, let’s go for the usual troubles.
But strangely enough we were barely entered into the terminal that an official saw us and came to our meeting.
Immediately, while felling very sorry of what has happened to my colleague, he proposed to look for a wheelchair.
- Thank you Sir I said while thinking that it was one of the few times that one was friendly with us in this country.
And then, to our surprise, the same thing occurred elsewhere. At each stage of the formalities, the officer made us pass before everyone else. Not the least tail to do, nor any dollar to give.
Everyone was 'SORRY' for the hapless diver that I was pushing and seemed SORRY that he had wounded on the Nigerian soil.
- EH! Philippe, have you seen how we pass easily I said, next time we’ll do the same.
An hour later in the boarding hall, I said goodbye to my colleague and left him to the good care of the Air France staff as for me I was leaving for Brussels and my flight had been announced.
In the cabin, oh nice surprise, look who is there, it’s Viviane my favorite hostess.
I had already met her on other flights, and she had some sympathy for me since the night where I don’t exactly remember the circumstances I had told her that she had the most beautiful eyes of the Sabena.
Since then whenever we saw, she arranged to pass me in the business class after takeoff and then came to me for little chat when most passengers were sleeping.
Pity that I was married, because I would willingly have succumbed to her charm.
7:00: arrival at Brussels.
I begin again to think about my little problem.
How will I inform my dear wife that we would practice abstinence for a few days?
Could I claim to have headache? Certainly not because this excuse was exclusively reserved to the weaker sex.
The more I approached home the more I became uncomfortable.
At home, my little darling was waiting for me on the doorstep.
- Hello my little Darling, you had a good trip, you are not too tired etc.
Then a little later came the fateful moment where any normal couple is going to a more intimate conversation, and it was now that I had to tell her the disease that was engulfing my body.
- Honey, I have a little problem.
- Ah which one?
- THAT! I replied by showing her my poor wounded sex.
Immediately she shouted:
- what is this! where you have dragged?
- But nowhere honey, I assure you. It is an acid fly that stung me yesterday.
- ACID FLY! ACID FLY! Bullshit. She said and it was the start of a dispute.
Of course, I tried to convince her of my good faith, but nothing helped, and the day was wasted. That evening I went to my doctor and explained him my disappointments.
He was laughing but agreed to write a little note for my wife explaining her the nature and the cause of my problem .
Phew, the household scene was over.
A few days later, everything was back in order and love reigned again on our couple.
Conclusion: To avoid household scenes, beware beasts biting.