Sunday, August 17, 2008

I have finally arrived in Siteki

I didn't think that I would ever get here, but I have finally made it to the Good Shepherd Hospital. I flew to Manzini in a very small aircraft and then arrived at a very small airport. After two hours of waiting very patiently, someone arrived to pick me up. That someone was a nice local man called Promise. These types of names are not unusual around here.
The drive to the hospital took about an hour and I paid witness to very "african images"- cattle and goats that wander on the sides of the road. Children playing in dirt next to the side of the road and women carrying babies on their back and big bags of produce on their heads. Cars, trucks and combi vans packed with people and driving way over the speed limit. Signs on the sides of the road telling the locals to "Trust condoms".....
I was shown to my accomodation. It is very comfortable considering where I am. I have a bed, a flushing toilet, running water and electricity that was on for most of the day. My hair straightner works and this provided me with a great deal of relief.... I also have a fridge and a very small hot plate which will allow me to cook meals. I feel very lucky to be provided with such "luxuries"
I was then fed in the local kitchen. Some chicken and some rice, both of which were coated in oil. Dinner was the same chicken, but fried. Needless to say, I will be doing my own cooking.
I was in my "Winnie the Pooh" pyjamas and washing my face when Dr Petros (the director of the hospital) knocked on my door. I was most embarrassed but he was simply delighted to see me. He kissed my hands and was just beaming that I had finally arrived. I know know why he is so excited- the doctor who normally runs internal medicine is going on leave next week and it looks like they plan to make me run the department. This thought is just crazy and I am terrified. I have no idea how I will cope. I have done a lot of reading today and I am quite overwhelmed by what I may potentially have to deal with.
My other big concern is now snakes. Dr Petros warned me that we are about to enter snake season and he made me close the windows that I had widely opened. I have since learnt that Swaziland has a number of dangerous snakes- the deadly mumba, cobras and puff adders. I am simply terrified. Now along with HIV, malaria and worms, I am now consummed with fears of snakes.
I made the walk into town this morning and went to the supermarket. I was pleasantly surprised by my options. Whilst it certainly isn't like a normal supermarket, I think I will be able to find enough to keep me from starving. I bought cereal and milk. I also bought bread and baked beans and tonight I will cook myself some pasta- there was no pasta sauces but I have bought tomatoes, spinach and mushrooms and hopefully I will be able to make myself something edible. They don't have regular coffee here- just something made with chicory. I have been told that I can get coffee in Manzini, but I have my own supply which will hopefully last me a week or so. I brought my own tea bags from Australia- thankfully, because they only have that revolting rubois tea!
There are no other volunteer doctors here, but I do have a very special friend, Julia. I have been in contact with her for quite a few months and it was just delightful meeting her in person. I have spent quite a few hours with her and we get along famously. She is from New York and has been working here for 10 months. Her knowledge of the local area is amazing and she will definitely look after me. She has learnt the local language and she is trying to teach me- so far, I am hopeless. We will look after each other (actually she will probably look after me...)
Anyway, I keep getting disconnected from the internet, so I will end here. I haven't been able to contact Mum and Graeme via phone, but hopefully, I will sort out a phone sometime this week. Until my next post, please pray that I don't have any encounters with snakes....


Iain said...

you are from Australia! You can't go to another country and get scared of snakes- Australia invented deadly poisonous creatures!