car accident in Dar es Salaam (yikes) and The Ultimate Nerd Injury

[i considered posting a picture of my Frankensophy stitches, but refrained – there’s a photo buried in my online album of my face the day after if you really want to see it!]

Being in a vehicle in East Africa is one of the biggest risks you can take. Animal mauling by lions and rhinos and hippos have nothing on vehicular accidents. After all these years of taking matatus / daladalas (“public” transport minivans that zoom around crazily like they are on amphetamines) and playing frogger by walking on very busy roads and biking in places with no organized traffic flow, I finally was in a car accident. It was a bad one – the car was totaled – and incredibly, fortunately no one was gravely injured. We were in one of the rare taxis with a good driver and air bags and seat belts.

It was a head-on collision – our taxi driver was good and managed to swerve off the road when an out-of-control vehicle went suddenly into our lane. Rather than hitting it full-on, we hit the other car from the side. The car we were in was a well-maintained Toyota (rare in Tanzania), so the air bags deployed, and the front seat passengers were restrained.

I was the worst physical casualty; I was partially restrained in the back seat (belt around my lap but not properly buckled in) and smashed my face (glasses and all) on the back of the seat in front of me and sustained a mild concussion and some facial lacerations. We all had minor musculoskeletal bruises and sprains.

I have the true NERD INJURY: facial cuts by eyeglasses. Can you get any nerdier than that??

Since my face was bleeding, I was taken to Aga Khan Hospital in Dar es Salaam and received cleaning and several stitches along my forehead and eyebrows. Having worked in many of the public hospitals in Tanzania, I was afraid of what kind of services I might encounter – eeek! But I really got great care – with better attention than what I would have gotten in the US. The hospital was clean, and my colleagues (all doctors and NPs) stayed with me to make sure everything went well. They’ve been super. Dr. Khan (fresh outta internship) did a very nice job stitching my face up.

I now have a black eye and forehead like Frankenstein – it’s a very interesting look for me.

I’ve rested up in Dar es Salaam for a couple days, but there is no time for dilly-dallying: off to Tabora tomorrow morning at 5:45 am for another training!

10 thoughts on “car accident in Dar es Salaam (yikes) and The Ultimate Nerd Injury”

  1. Good Lord, Show! I am so glad to hear that you are okay (minus the facial stitches). That’s kind of amazing that you were in such a well-maintained car with airbags and all. Phew re the medical care you got too! Darn those glasses!

  2. Geezus, Sophy! Are you okay? That’s quite the shiner you got there! I guess it’s a big relief to know that you weathered that storm and that you’re well enough to jot it all down on your blog! Thank goodness.

  3. Oh my god Sophs. I am glad you are okay! It freaked me out a little but now I am okay but I HAVE to see your picture now. Hey I thought you were gone before your birthday! I am sorry because I wanted to send you something. Are you getting post in Africa?

  4. Ack! Glad to hear you’re not seriously injured. What’s with you an moving vehicles (car, bike…). Good thing you weren’t wearing your pocket protector. I bet all those pens woulda hurt.

  5. oh no, frankensophy!glad nothing seriouswould it be absurd to wear a helmet in a car?

  6. i’m reading! well…i’m actually going crazy since our fash. illustration is going nuts and assigning us hella work in our last few days…thank u so much for the postcards- love em!!!! i’m glad to hear you are ok. head on collisions, car accidents period, are the worst! the last time i had a black eye it was green and purple- like built-in eye shadow. i don’t know if yours is that flattering, but a warm washcloth soaked in sugar water helps (ex-boyfriend’s grandma’s mexi-recipe). take care, and i’ll be more in effect in a few days!!!lots of love to you and i miss you!!

  7. Sophy, I’m so glad you weren’t more seriously injured! Quite the shiner, though! You could probably come up with a variety of great stories to tell people for what happened to you… and you should check out Stephen Colbert’s recent facial injury/stitches ( — you guys are like twins. Maybe he was in the other car? Keep us updated, and stay safe!

  8. Sophy! We are so glad to hear that you are okay. Sounds like it was pretty scary. I haven’t scoped out the photo of frankensophy yet but have enjoyed the general pictures of travel and life in East Africa. We loved your postal card and look forward to hearing more of your adventures when you return. Tank, Tovi, Mica, and I head to Burkina Faso for a few weeks this December and reading your blog has made me nostalgic for the continent.

  9. Dear Marafiki,Wow! Thanks so much for the outpouring of support. With your good vibes, I am healing well, and I have indeed the asymmetric eye shadow and eye liner look – a bit purple, a bit green. My stitches are scheduled to come out tomorrow – I bought manicure scissors from the Tabora market for the occasion (it was the only scissors I could find that were small enough). And yes, good thing I wasn’t wearing my pocket protector! It would have been very embarrassing to have to take off my shirt for stitches on my chest. Sheesh. xoxosoph

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