Monday, August 16, 2010

Oh, the places you'll go! (Part I)

Monday, August 16, 8:30 PM

Goodness! I was so happy about being caught up on my blog a few days ago and then I let myself slack off over the weekend, and here we are back again three days behind.


Friday was an excellent, excellent day. It began with my first successful attempt at waking up early enough for the 6:45 Mass. Of course, Vincent was there and after Mass handed me an envelope that must have had 30 pages of papers in it...his CV. I was impressed, and told him I would take a look at it sometime during the weekend. Then I was off to the clinic for the day!

Clinic was so much fun Friday. I worked with Dr. Parth, who is a pediatric hematologist/oncologist who works one day a week in the clinic. He spends the rest of his time being the Heme/Onc guy for the city. All morning I asked him about how he came to be working in Africa, etc. He told me about how he had just finished his fellowship, decided he wanted to do some international work, met with Dr. Kline (The Boss at TCH and the man who made the BIPAI clinics happen), and was subsequently offered the job of being the Heme/Onc doctor for the entire network of clinics in Africa, as they didn't have one yet at the time. That was three years ago, and long story short he's still here.

In any case, he was super friendly, answered my questions, asked me questions about their patients and their therapy and regimens, etc. The patients were fun, cute, and energetic, I learned while I played with them, and got advice from Dr. Parth on taking a trip to Chobe National Park. By the end of the day, I was satisfied, but oh was there more to the story.

While talking with Parth he mentioned that all of the PAC doctors were having a party that night and that I should come. Not wanting to intrude, I told him that I wanted to make sure it was okay first with the doctors hosting the party. "Of course it's okay," he said, "besides would you rather sit in the house on Friday night with nothing to do?" Of course I laughed, but laughed instead at the amazing accuracy of his statement rather than the joke he may have been trying to make. Not having anyone back at the house, I was ready for SOMETHING new and fun to do.

In any case, later that afternoon Dr. Patel (who was hosting the party, btw) was to give us a lecture to help with our journal club presentation. Of course by this time I had NOT asked her about the party (again not wanting to intrude), but was planning on asking afterwards. You can imagine how I did a little happy dance when, while we were learning about the M184V mutation and how it reconfers susceptibility to NRTIs even in the presence of a TAM mutation, she stopped and said "Oh by the way, totally off topic, but we are having a party tonight at my house and you should both come!"


So lecture ended, I went home to get out of my clinic clothes and take a shower. By the time I was out it was about time to head out. I called a taxi whose number Dr. Patel gave me, who showed up way quicker than I expected. I threw my shirt and fleece on (yes it's cold here) and was out the door.

Next was an encounter with "Liquorama." So, there are only so many liquor stores in Gaborone, and as I wanted to bring something for the hosts/the party I asked Tendai the Taxi Driver if we could run by one. So we pull up, I run in, and this place is PACKED. As I picked out my purchase I noticed the lines to pay about 20 people deep. Just as I picked my item off the shelf Tendai shows up and says "If you have money I will stand in line for you, but if you're done, let's go now." He proceeds to maneuver me through the crowded lines, up to a front register, also with a line, says something in Setswana to a guy he surely did not know, and nudged me into about 3rd in the line. "This is time," he said "and time is money." By the way, he was being totally friendly, not angry.

A questionably arranged purchase of rum and coke later and we were in the taxi again, straight to the doc's place.

So...this party/dinner/dinner party was EXACTLY what I needed at the time. We sat around as other people arrived, just talking and snacking and having a drink. As everyone arrived, I realized that I was finally getting to see people truly LIVING in Gaborone. They weren't at the clinic, they weren't running around to and from the Riverwalk Mall to use the internet. They were hanging out with friends at home, where they were settled in, comfortable, and happy.

Truly, though I came to get an idea of if I could do international work long-term, I have been living like a guest in another country (appropriately). It's kind of impossible to get the real experience in a month, as even if you did get settled you'd be about ready to head home. So it was just really great to see that people do establish themselves, get used to living here, have regular friends who come over, etc. I knew that in my mind, I suppose, but it was incredibly reassuring to be reminded in a tangible sense.

So we drank, we ate, I dropped my first bottle of beer on the floor after I had finished it (it just slipped! And the floor was tile!), I apologized profusely, I washed my hand that had somehow essentially received the equivalent of a paper cut from a shard but bled enough to drip on the floor, and I apologized again as the glass was swept up.

Dinner and a couple hours later, and it was time for a change of scene, apparently. The other medical student here is actually from Gaborone and is now in school in Jamaica. So he and a couple of the PAC docs decided to go out. After stopping at my house to grab a different pair of shoes and a collared shirt ( I should have known this place was not my style) we were on our way out west (I think) to a place called "Fashion." It was upstairs in this building complex, required a cover (ugh I hate covers), and once we got inside.... was pretty lame and empty. I could see that it could have been fun, but there were hardly any people there. You have to understand, by this point in time it was about 2AM. I had been up since 6, I had had a few drinks, and I was le tired. In any case, I was ready to go mentally, but I did not at all protest when the group decided to leave about 20 minutes after arriving. We turned around, drove back, and were all dropped off by a friend of the fellow med student. I was the last to be dropped off...

Babe, I took a shower before I left for dinner, I was exhausted, and I didn't do anything that made me get sweaty. That said, I have a confession to make:

I got home, put on my pajamas, and went to sleep without taking a shower....


  1. when you get home, you'll not be allowed this unshowering behavior. :-)

  2. hahaha... that last part made me smile. I love you and am sooo happy you are finding ways to have fun over there!