14.07.2016 - 14.07.2016 21 °C
It is hard to believe but I have now been in Ethiopia for 2 weeks and I am halfway through my adventure. What an amazing experience so far! Who would have thought that I'd survive? Let's face it, I'm not designed for hardship - I hate dirt, disorder and discomfort. Despite all 3, somehow I have managed to last for 2 weeks and haven't felt the urge to scuttle back home to my comfortable life.
Having said that, there are some things it has taken a while to accept (in no particular order):
1. Sudden, random loss of electricity, expecially in the middle of making coffee or during a Caesarean
2. 5.30am wake up every morning by the 'call to prayer' blaring via a loudspeaker from the nearby mosque
3. Lack of water for 12 hours (a difficult situation if one has irritable bowels!)
4. Cold showers
5. NO internet for an entire day
6. Mosquitoes (especially the one every night that manages to somehow squeeze through the net and buzz near my ear)
7. No butter, vegemite, cheese or Grill'd
8. Repairing a perineum by the light of a smartphone torch
On the positive side, I've learnt a lot about Ethiopia, obstetrics and myself. I have been able to read a few good books guilt free, listen to the rain on my tin roof every night as I fall asleep, drink the best coffee in the world and discover the wonderful feeling of helping people in great need.
Today has been a rather good day! Firstly, to my great excitement, there was HOT water. Somehow, randomly, it reappeared and I had the most wonderful hot shower to start my morning. I obviously won't assume continuation of this apparent miracle - I'll just savour each time it occurs.
To counterbalance the hot water situation, the electricity went off just as I was boiling the kettle for my coffee. It was still off when I returned home for morning tea. I obviously looked forlorn because, all of a sudden, my housekeeper Meron rushed off and returned with some smoking hot embers. She proceeded to boil the kettle and make us some coffee. I have no idea where she got them from but it was very sweet!
Then, to top it off, I came home for lunch to find this lovely selection of treats: strawberry jam, chips and fresh banana bread. Heaven!!
The hospital for 2 days has been quiet, so yesterday I braved the complicated streets nearby; always double checking my bearings as I walked. As I moved further into the outskirts of town, I discovered where many of my patients must live. There is certainly a lot of poverty here. Many of the houses are tiny and basic and open straight onto the street.
It is school holidays here so kids are everywhere on the streets playing and laughing. They clearly love to see a white face and are either very shy or overconfident. They like to say 'hello', 'how are you', and 'welcome to Ethiopia'. They will often want to shake my hand or give me a high five. It's nice to see them looking healthy and happy.
One thing I don't like is being approached by men as I walk. They are always in their early 20s, well dressed and articulate. They want to strike up a conversation. Some are clearly tour operators or shop owners wanting to direct me to their business, but others just seem to want to chat and welcome me to their country. Maybe sadly, maybe sensibly, I am reluctant to engage these men. I'm paranoid of scammers and pickpockets and I don't want to take any risks. Occasionally a guy will seem genuine and I'll have a little conversation but then quickly move on.
Yesterday I found a cafe. It is like a little oasis: shaded and filled with tiny birds. I thought it must be good when I walked in and found several policemen and some UN Aid Workers sitting there. The waitress spoke no English but I now speak Amharic! Bunna = coffee! I had 2 rich, black, sweet cups of bunna and it cost me a grand total of 90c (including tip!) May Street Larder has a lot to answer for!
This afternoon was still peaceful at work so we all sat around folding up swabs!