Saturday, 27 August 2011

An Arachrophobics nightmare

26 th/ 27th August :Have arrived at the Mission Hospital! Bus joumey was certainly not dull in that we went past some amazing views seeing zebras, elephants, buffalo and monkeys and furthermore even simple things like going to the loo were a bit terrifying as the bus driver barely gave us any time at all before he would start slowly driving off - both me and my housemate (who I will refer to as AJ)had to jump on the bus whilst it was moving at points during the day. Whenever the bus paused even just for traffic in more populated areas, people rushed up to the windows and tried to sell us everything from food to socks. So all in all the bus was definitely quite an experience and I quite enjoyed this small snapshot into the tanzanian culture. Nonetheless it was very long and so a relief to reach the bus stop nearest the hospital (big thanks go to the two women sitting across the aisle from us for explaining to the conductor where we wanted to be dropped off - turns out learning swahili may be vital after all!)

Once at the bus stop a taxi driver took one look at us and asked if we were going to the mission hospital, Im assuming that this is the only reason for tourists being in this very rural area as opposed to us looking so dreadful from the journey that he assumed we were in need of urgent medical attention!! He then helped us phone the medical officer who we had been told to contact and arranged with the hospital to take us there and they would pay on arrival. Bit scary going in his taxi because as most the conversation with the medical officer was conducted by the taxi driver in swahili, we were having to trust him that this was what had been arranged and get into his very much unlicensed taxi... Whilist we were aware that this isn't usually the best idea we didn't have much choice as the hospital was 14km away and there were no licensed taxis about here in the middle of nowhere! Fortuanately he was actually honest and we arrived safely at the hospital to a very warm welcome from 2 of the doctors who took us to our guesthouse and arranged us some very welcome food free of charge which we were not expecting at all but were very grateful for as we had only had biscuits all day. We were told that we would be cooked for all weekend to give us a chance to settle in and find the market/shop which was another pleasant surprise. Feel a bit guilty though accepting free food from a poor african hospital but hopefully the cost is already accounted for in our accomadation costs.

Dinner was a common dish in tanzania: chip omelate. Amazing! Why have I never thought to make this in England! However it was incredibly filling and I really struggled to eat the whole thing but felt I had to because I kept thinking of that standard parent phrase "There are children in Africa who are starving" and this time the conscience easing thought that I can't send it to them was much less relevant!

Our accomadation is very nice but water here is scarce so whilst tnere are taps and a shower none of them work as it is currently the drier months of the year. So in the bathroom is a large bucket full of of water and a jug which we have to use for a things from flushing the loo to taking a shower. When our bucket runs out we can refill from one of several buckets in the kitchen. Im not yet sure what happens when the buckets in the kitchen run out or how long the water is supposed to last for so I really hope we are not using too much :s!

- Our very own Tanzanian shower!

Before we went to sleep last night we discovered a massive spider on the wall, whilst Im not afraid of spiders at all in England it was a bit disconcerting not knowing if it was poisonous or not, so we tried to remove it using the glass and paper trick but it was freakishly fast and this resulted in it running into my bed and hiding somewhere there. Eek! We then found two more large spiders but eventually managed to get rid of 2/3 (turns out they don't like deet any more than mozzies!) and throughly checked my bed so that I could sleep safe in the knowledge I wasn't snuggling up to a poisonous spider! Spiders:1, Med students:2.

Woken up this morning at 9am for breakfast even though we don't start at the hospital till monday, I guess I'm going to have to get used to mornings again (Im not a morning person!), but as long as I can get more of the delicious coffee we were given this morning I'll cope :). We were given a saucepan full of boiled water to mix with our cold water and use for a shower, but as it was just one saucepan between the two of us, we are learning quickly to be economical with water whilst showering. Whilst Im sure by the end of my elective I will long for a real shower, at the moment I am enjoying learning how to live like a Tanzanian.

Going to try and cram learn some swahili now before I start at the hospital on Monday because I am embarrassed at how little I know and don't want to be completely useless on the wards.
Halfadoc x

Welcome to Africa

25th aug - arrive in Tanzania .I m so excited to finally be here! Feels like I have been planning and waiting for my Elective for months and its the bit of my course I have been looking forward to since literally the start of med school (+ maybe even before that!). As a result I spent most the Journey here bouncing about like a kid on Smarties!

Still got a 14hour bus journey to go (at time of writting but maybe not posting due to lack of wifi currently) before we reach the mission hospital we are working in, but the bus leaves early in the morning so we should be there by tomorrow evening :D.

So far most people seem to speak English very well which means hopefully we should be able to Communicate with patients quite easily but as this is the capital it may be a false representation of eNglish abilities in general so we are trying to learn key Swahili phrases just in case . Currently I can say thank you ...Its a start ;).

Apolagies for Numerous typos in this + subsequent posts - can only blog at moment from a PDA and the transcriber function dislikes my stereotypical doctors handwritting! Will also add pictures to posts at a later date :)