“On a camel to heaven,” is how the friends and family of Kinga Freespirit describe her latest journey, the one that began with her death from cerebral malaria a few days ago at the Military Hospital here in Accra. Kinga met many people during her solo African sojourn, and made even more friends on her previous trip: a five-year hitchhiking journey around the world with her partner, Chopin. Her book, Led By Destiny, tells all about it, and the long lists of comments on her site and places like the Thorn Tree show just how many people she touched.
As an assurance to our mothers, Tay and I are taking a malaria prophylaxis (doxycycline), and apparently, Kinga was not. I don’t mean this as any sort of judgment, only to share the message expressed in this letter from a friend of Kinga’s, was also found on the Thorn Tree:
…Kinga was a close friend of mine. And so is Chopin. I am devastated by her loss, and will be at the funeral in Poland. Kinga and Chopin lived with me here in California, and we taught English together in Taiwan. I don’t know if you ever met Kinga in person or just followed her travels online and through her book.
Kinga was a remarkable person, a good friend, a gentle and kind spirit. Her downfall was her belief that nothing bad could ever happen to her while travelling. Perhaps this is what gave her the courage to travel as she did. At the same time, it may have contributed to her tragic death. Kinga did not take the anti-malaria pills before she got sick, or the other precautions. Even when she fell ill, she at first refused the medication. When you are sick with malaria, every day is critical. By the time she was hospitalized, unconscious, the doctors found that the malaria had spread to her brain. At that point, it is very life-threatening.
As a member of the travel community, please warn all other travellers to take great care, and every possible precaution. NOBODY is invulnerable…