Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Working on Africa Time

Machui plans put on hold again. To refresh your memory, that's the small village in Zanzibar that I'm hoping to reach out to for a solution to their water crisis.

I was supposed to visit to assess the situation quite some time ago, but then I broke my leg. That made independent travel by bus and ferry a bit too unsafe and near-impossible. I've been speaking with the Sisters and someone who previously worked on the water project in hopes to get more information, but it seems like I really need to be there in person to figure out the current situation. So I waited it out, and had plans to go last weekend. I actually made it to Zanzibar! And then I got sick... I swear something is trying to keep me away from this little village.

I couldn't keep down any food, and felt like the world was spinning around me anytime I moved my head. I rushed back to see a doctor in Dar. After a day full of testing, doctors concluded that I had a parasite in my stomach, but they couldn't be entirely sure which type until they performed more tests. Once they figured out precisely which bug took over my body, then they could determine how to get rid of it. I returned the following day, after having nightmares about a worm eating me from the inside out. Then they decided that it wasn't a parasite (phew!) but they couldn't figure out what the problem was. Apparently my stomach was inflamed to a "moderately severe" level, but my body looked strong, so I should just allow myself to fight off whatever the problem is. Even more reason to love Tanzanian healthcare...

I'm doing much better now, but disappointed that my Machui plans have been pushed aside again. Hopefully I'll get out there this coming weekend--fingers crossed! 

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Happy Easter!

Happy Easter Everyone!

I hope you're all having a lovely day with family and friends. It never occurred to me how much I would miss one of those big family functions at a time like this, but I still had a nice day here in Dar. Last night I attended the Easter Vigil at the campus chapel. They cancelled the English mass this weekend, without any explanation, so it was really interesting in Swahili. And yes, an Easter Vigil in Tanzania is just as long as the ones in America. They did a very nice job decorating the chapel, and they had beautiful Swahili hymns sung by one of the most talented choirs I've ever heard. It was really nice.

My Easter morning consisted of piles upon piles of laundry. Done in a couple hours, with limited cuts on my knuckles. I'm definitely getting better at this!

It was nice and quiet because my host family took off to their other home in Morogoro for celebrations.

I met up with Pam and Jas, two students from Fairfield who are studying at the University. We decided to grab lunch together and search for chocolate bunnies! Unfortunately, Tanzania wasn't on the Easter Bunny's map this year. But we each bought an over-sized chocolate bar and walked over to the movie theater. We saw the movie "Hall Pass." It was hilarious, but not exactly easter-appropriate.

On the way home, the real excitement happened. We were walking back towards campus when Pam stopped short just before the gate. She called us over to see a massive lizard. It was just under 3 feet long!! I was really glad to see it was dead, but it looked so alive. This girl saw us gawking at the beast, and she walked right over and picked it up by the tail. She started swinging it around like a toy! For the record, this girl was actually like 20 years old... not a little kid. And she showed absolutely no fear while playing with the lizard. This is actually the second time I've seen such a big nasty thing. (the first one was squashed in the middle of the road). The dead ones don't bother me so much, but I'm pretty sure there are living ones out there somewhere, and I really hope I never cross paths with them. 

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Back to Blogging

This is a pretty busy week for me. I finally got my cast off! I'm hoping that was my last experience with the hospital because it was just as frightening as every other. The nurse set me up in a nice room in the "casualty" department. (That's their word for "emergency room," but I think it's slightly unsettling.) Then she hooked up a nice rotating saw. It looked a lot like the dremel I would use at work, but bigger and sharper... and I've cut through some thick metal with those things! It's ok, she was only going to cut the cast, right? 

The nurse was making a pretty good dent in the top layer of the cast, but she kept taking breaks, as if this was a very exhausting exercise. Finally she said "It's too thick!" Then she grabbed the saw again and started hacking away. Her entire body was bobbing up and down as she fought with the thick plaster. The worst moment was when a person from the custodial staff walked into the room. She turned around and politely said hi to him WHILE USING THAT SAW ON MY LEG!! I honestly thought I was going to lose my leg. In an effort to be less dramatic, I turned to my friend Pam and began to rationalize the situation. I calmly told her that the worst thing that was going to happen was for her to hit the skin, see a little blood, and then I could call in her supervisor to finish the simple procedure. I was actually preparing for her to cut my leg, and assuring myself that it wouldn't be that bad. Way to go, Tanzanian healthcare. It's hard to believe that this is one of the best facilities in East Africa. It definitely makes me appreciate the high level of care I receive in the US. 

Well, the good news is that I survived--no scars! Except that big burn on my heel. More good news--it's healing! I have to wear an ankle support (kind of like an ACE bandage) for the next month and build up the strength in my little chicken leg. 

For the next month, I'm advised not to walk on sand or hills. Good thing I'm going to Zanzibar on Friday! That's the beautiful island off the coast of Dar es Salaam. I'll be heading back to Machui to find out firsthand about the struggles with water in the small village. 

But I can't think about that until after my big test tomorrow. Essays on African Civilizations. Thousands of years, starting with the hunting and gathering lifestyles, all the way through iron working and the formation of major cities. This should be interesting... I haven't taken a test like this in almost a year! I'm getting too old for stress like this.