Thursday, August 26, 2010

“It’s Time for Africa… It’s Time for Africa… It’s Time for Africa… It’s Time for Africa… It’s Time for Africa… It’s Time for Africa…”

August 25, 2010 6:25 PM

No it's not another virus, but it was making me a wee bit sick…I'll explain…


August 24, 2010

So Monday night I slept, and I slept, and I slept. I woke up about 1 to change out of my clothes, get into sleep pants and a shirt, and get under the covers. I woke up a few more times, not from restless sleep, but because I think my body was shocked and kept thinking that it must be time to wake up. All in all, my final wakeup time of 6:45 gave me over 10 hours of sleep. I was shocked.

Yet somehow I was STILL tired. I made my way over to the clinic, and settled in for what I did not realize would be a longer day. The patients were simply LONG. It wasn't their fault, but they were taking forever. That made each one a little more difficult to stay wake for as the doc I worked with wrote the patient up on the electronic medical record system. About halfway through the morning, I excused myself, saying I was going to go get some coffee. I knew it would take a while, but I headed over to the cafeteria that Dr. Andres had shown me the week before. As we did when he was with me the previous week, I sat down at a table, thinking that it would be faster than waiting in the long line. As I watched the people in the line come and go (with the old American movie posters behind them and an African Soap opera (where there were captions every other sentence since the show was filmed in what I've dubbed "Setswanglish") on the TV above them), twenty minutes passed. Not a word was said to me. A little defeated, I decided Dr. Andres must have had special cafeteria powers. I walked back just as sleepy:-P

Then came a couple patients that made it harder for me to be sleepy. Among them was a 15 year-old boy named Letang, who came to us in green pajamas bearing the letters LPH and with an escort. He was from Lobatse Psychiatric Hospital, where he was in rehabilitation for poor control of his bipolar disorder. He was rather entertaining, and not because of his disorder solely. He was just very energetic, friendly, and a bit off-the-wall. He talked with us, offered us candy, asked us if we knew who Jim Reeves was, told us jokes, and squealed with excitement repeatedly at the idea of going back to school once released from LPH. He was sweet one minute, then insistent (though kindly) the next that we call his grandmother, who apparently hadn't been to see him for weeks. Then, we were to "give [him] the feedback." He was definitely my favorite patient of the day. I could have talked to him all day. Even still, as the doc typed up Letang's note, there were a few moments of silence where I almost fell asleep while sitting on a stool with wheels on it and my head leaned against the wall behind me. It would not have been pretty, but perhaps Letang would have been amused.

By this time, it was about noon. However with no end of patients in near sight, I tried the cafeteria again. This time there was NO line, so I went right up to the cashier, waited to be paid attention to, and asked for coffee. I assumed I would get it to go, but sure enough a few minutes later a worker brought out a tray with a teapot full of hot water, sugar, coffee, and cream accompanying the small coffee cup. I quickly chugged down the first cup, mindful of the time. Now, I'm not sure if I was supposed to do this, but assuming that they were going to let me drink the entire pot of water/coffee on my tray for the 5.50 pula I paid, I went ahead and discreetly scooped a bunch of coffee and sugar into my contraband Nalgene bottle, poured in the remainder of the cream, and topped it off with as much water as the bottle would hold. I left a tip and walked out, shaking up my extra coffee with a smile as I walked back to the clinic.

It definitely helped get me through the remainder of the day, which ended around 2. I followed my typical routine of lunch then internet at the clinic. However this time I stopped at the restaurant by the clinic, which somehow was still serving lunch. I ordered the beef (the toughest beef of my life and the last I will be eating at that restaurant, thanks very much), samp (boiled corn kernels, which were AWESOME actually…I need the recipe), carrots, and slaw. I asked the woman there if I could have some of the peppers that they had automatically left off my plate two times previous. I asked to make sure it was hot, then confirmed that yes I did want it. The lady gave me this look that I would interpret in the States as "Boy, you crazy." She complied, though, and I left for the clinic again.

I ate and worked at the clinic, calling South African Airways to change my flight time Saturday to one a few hours earlier to ensure that I'd make my 6 PM flight home to the States (I thought the one hour and ten minutes I had before the change was pushing it a bit). Without any hassle, the man on the phone at SAA changed my flight, and without any fee! Take note America!

It was at this point in time that my phone rang, and Grace (the trainee coordinator for the clinic) was on the other end. She said that she had a new resident that was working at the clinic for a month in her office, and that she needed help figuring out which of the keys she had fit the locks at the Baylor One House.

Hooray! A new roommate! Though now to distinguish I must name the former roommate and the current roommate.

So it had been about two weeks since Roommate A had left, and though I was getting used to being on my own, I still would have preferred to have her around. In any case, I walked over to Grace's office to meet my new roommate, Roommate B, a third year resident at Stanford who would be here until mid-September. I helped ID the keys that would work at the house, introduced myself, and that was about it (she was off to get some things done in Gaborone). Aww heck, just to make it more realistic, let's ditch the letters. We'll imagine that roommate A is named Chrissy and that Roommate B is named Meg, just for fun.

After meeting Meg, I left in time to make it to daily Mass at the Cathedral. Daily Mass is no small feat here anymore. That is at least if you are going in the evening and Vincent is there. After Mass he told me he just wanted to have a word or two before heading home. I met him outside, where he proceeded to sit on a bench where we could talk for "Five or eight or ten minutes." He gave me the contact info for his family in Kenya in the event that his work permit in Botswana should expire before he found work. I explained to him that I would not be able to make it to Serowe to visit him (did I mention that he had brought his up Sunday?) In any case, he said then that if my scheduled allowed it he would like for me to come to Serowe, where he had previously been working, stay at his house if I needed to, and see the rhino sanctuary, which he insisted "very many whites" like to visit. How I was supposed to do this after work on a week night then get back to work using a bus system I had never tried before was beyond me. In any case, I explained it wouldn't work out. Next time, he said. Then a few minutes later he was scratching off another airtime card so that I could speak to his brother in Kenya and his friend Sister Margaret in Mahalapye Botswana. Fortunately for my impatience, as I had somewhere to be at 7:30, only Sister Margaret answered. She was much easier to understand than Vincent's family, and I wished her a good night. Then I found out the origin of the four consecutive phone calls I had received from Vincent many days back.

"When I am calling somebody, you see, I have to try them at least a good four times. You never know, they may have left their phone in the study, in the kitchen, in the living room, in their bedroom, so I give them a good four tries before giving up."

This made me feel better as I watched him try to phone his brother in a village in Kenya four consecutive times. It made the calls from him that midnight Saturday night about ten days back a little less creepy in retrospect. After no answer from his brother, he concluded it would not work and walked me back to the same place as always.

I ran inside the house on arriving and made a quick dinner out of some peanut butter and crackers. After the big lunch, I didn't really need too much to eat. In any case, I headed out to an experience unlike any other…

This night was the night of the Camp Hope Talent show. Camp Hope is an overnight camp put on for patients at the clinic once a year during the school break. It is not designed to talk about HIV, etc but just to give the kids a fun time and to make friends who share their infection. I left the house and walked, using the instructions given to me by Leah, the doc in charge of the camp. The camp was at a nearby school, but still had to be reached by walking down one winding road that was lit but still scary enough for me to move my credit cards and cash from my wallet to my fleece front pocket in the event of a mugging. I arrived safely, and as the talent show began I watched a couple of the kids put on a routine where one of the boys acted as the arms for the one "man" in the skit, while the other was the head. Everyone laughed as he brushed his teeth, washed his face, and ate an apple. There was also a skit put on by about ten kids in Setswana, which was apparently hilarious but none of which I understood. I think it might have been about not drinking, as one of the characters was stumbling around as if drunk.

After this is when it began. One after another, groups of the kids went up to the front of the room and performed a dance to the song of their choice. However, thanks to World Cup fever from the previous two months, 80% of the kids, and at one point 5 groups in a row, performed a dance (all very similar, btw) to Shakira's song that I assume is titled "It's Time for Africa." I had heard it once before, but by the end of the two hour show I was soooooooooooo pleased to hear the DJ play the apparent them song for the camp : "The World's Greatest." It was very cute, as all of the kids and counselors did a dance they had obviously taught each other that essentially acted out the lyrics. I watched from the sidelines…

As we left the show, I waited for all the kids to file out with the PAC doctors. They asked if I needed a ride home, but since it wasn't far, I said I'd be alright. About three minutes later as I was walking down the road that led homeward, not one but two of the docs stopped on the side of the road after seeing me and asked if I was sure I didn't want a ride. Recalling my move of putting my valuables in a "secret pocket" on the way there, I accepted gladly and was home in just a couple minutes.

After arriving home, I read in my room for just a bit, finished a blog post, greeted Meg as she arrived home for the night, and pretty much went to bed. Though it wasn't quite as early as the 8 PM bedtime the night before, it was the end of another good (and among the last) day in Gaborone.

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