August 20, 2010 11:46 AM
Still here at the airport….here's Tuesday
Tuesday, August 17, 2010
Tuesday started off like almost any other day. After a quick talk with Ali, I began working with Dr. Gomila, the ID (Infectious Disease) go-to guy for the clinic. He was friendly and efficient, and fun to work with throughout the morning. About halfway through the morning, he said it was time for a quick break to get some coffee. Since, like most mornings, I had not been awake early enough to boil water for some instant coffee, my ears perked up. "Coffee?!?" I thought. I didn't even know that it was accessible before Tuesday. How did I go two weeks here without someone showing me where to get coffee in the mornings?
I found out soon enough that it was probably because it wasn't exactly "quick." We walked out of the clinic, in between a couple buildings on a covered walkway through the Princess Marina Hospital Complex, and turned in to a small cafeteria. Concrete floors and folding chairs, diner-like flat-top grill behind the serving line, and a couple of large but old framed movie posters ("A Walk in the Clouds" and "Shakespeare in Love"…about as random as the cafeteria itself), and two drink refridgerators. That was about it. Twenty people stood in line, but Dr. Gomila insisted we sit down, as he knew a friend who worked there (ie we'd get our coffee faster). He ordered coffee and something that sounded Argentinian, like the doctor himself is, and I just said I'd have the same. When his friend brought out the coffee, I found out the Spanish-sounding item we had ordered was a large English muffin warmed on the flat-top grill. As a lover of English muffins, I was happy…though I was surprised that it wasn't something more exotic based on the name:-P. We scooped our coffee, raw sugar (called brown sugar here, which is great and highly preferred by me for coffee purposes), and cream and poured in steaming water from a small pot placed on our table. Simple, but it was a better breakfast than I've had most days here. After talking for about fifteen minutes about my Kasane trip, where he had come from, etc. We moseyed back to the clinic to finish up the remaining hour or two of patients.
After clinic finished up, I spoke with Dr. Patel and the other medical student here briefly, ran home, ate a quick sandwich, and headed back to get ready for journal club. As we prepped the projector and made last adjustments to the slides, people started rolling in. Of course, as our talk was on HIV resistance, we played "Simply Irresistible" as the first few people came in. By the time we started, there were about 15 or so people there, which was a pretty good number for journal club! (I know I know the PAC docs probably all agreed to go to support us poor students). In any case, the talk went well, I think people enjoyed it, and I didn't pee my pants…not even a little (I guess I'm not as cool as Miles Davis.)
After everyone left, Dr. Patel thanked and congratulated us, and it was so nice to have the presentation done (really the one big thing that I had to complete here for the rotation outside of the clinic work). It was almost like a final exam, but without questions. It's really all downhill from here!
My fellow medical student and I agreed to meet up with some of his friends a bit later to celebrate being done. In the meantime, I continued my work on setting up things for my trip, second-guessing my decision to stay in Zambia rather than Botswana (visas and border crossings being kept to a minimum is probably a good idea). About 5:30, I left the clinic and ran home. At the time it appeared as if the plans for the evening were falling through. To make matters even worse, I had purchased a bottle of wine at the Riverwalk the night before (where the most expensive bottle was seriously about 20 dollars!) and had intended to have a celebratory glass with dinner that night. Instead, I searched and searched and could NOT find a corkscrew. I did come across what I believe to be some sort of other kitchen tool that I had never seen before. In any case, it had what could be construed as a corkscrew on it. However, after about 3 turns into the cork, it stopped, was not deep enough, and instead of going further dedided to let me bend and twist the straight part of the thingamajig. I pulled and pulled and pulled, and nearly destroyed the cork. No luck. I tried to wedge it out with a fork, with a knife (safely). Nothing.
At this point in time I recalled a sign I saw at the Gaborone Sun Hotel on Sunday saying that happy hour was from 6 to 7. I scrapped the plan to make dinner and have wine and instead headed over to have a drink and watch whatever sports were on TV. After quickly crossing the street, I walked back in to that beautifully landscaped and furnished area, and pulled up a chair at the bar. So the conversation with the man behind the bar there went like this.
"Good evening, sir."
"Hello. Is Happy Hour from six until seven?"
"What does that mean?"
(Looks at his watch) "That it is still happy hour, sir."
"No no I'm sorry, what does Happy Hour mean?"
"It means that everything is half-priced."
Honestly though…happy hour means different things at different places, right? So I spent the next hour sitting sipping and watching soccer and SkyNews. I was able to text family back home, relax, and enjoy a calm evening without work to do. About quarter after seven, the other medical student texts to let me know that indeed he and his friends were on their way to NewsCafe down the road. Ready to do anything unrelated to work, I walked outside to the combi stop in front of the hotel and waited for a Broadhurst #5, undeterred by the events of the previous afternoon. As I waited, random dude from Botswana pulls up in his car, rolls down his window, and I figure out he's a taxi driver. I decided that him pulling up to the combi stop should be taken as a sign not to wait for the combi. I asked him how much, and since the 20 pula matched the amount of change I had just received at the Sun, I jumped inside.
Literally three minutes later I was sitting at a table with my fellow medical student and about 7 of his friends. Though the drinks were more expensive than the happy hour prices I had just enjoyed, the drink I was given was not the drink I ordered, and the place was otherwise empty, it was a good time. We sat talking and playing cards for a couple of hours until the management basically was just staring at us in a way that sad "Please leave, we want to go home." Thankfully, as we left one of my fellow student's friends offered a ride home. Thus ended another day in the land of instant coffee, random taxis, and backwards driving.