Sunday, September 11, 2011

My first real week in Big A Africa... oops, Malawi.


There is something about African sunsets that, in my opinion, are unmatched in the world.  Now, I have never been everywhere else in the world, but, one thing I do know... sunsets here kick any Canadian sunset.

I think it is probably how you can almost directly look at it and the sun is this radiant light, which, if you turn away (or blink) at the wrong moment, will suddenly disappear... when it nears that horizon... watch out.  it will disappear in seconds.    That magnificent reddy, orange, pink, purple, radiant circle of light.

Tonight, as I was sitting tonight reading my book, watching the sunset, I thought about big A Africa.  

you know the one.  the one where there is this continent of unknowns, and there are either wild animals running rampant, or civil wars where people are having their limbs lopped off with machetes, or people who are all the same, or disease is ravaging everyone, and every person is part of a "tribe" who wears lots of rings around their neck? 

yeah.  that big A Africa.

as I sat and watched the sunset, i thought about how that is probably the sole similarity between Malawi and Liberia (the last time i was in Africa).  In Liberia, we would go out for dinner, and sit... on a septic tank... to watch the sun go down.  Here... well, they have running water in Blantyre.  And guess what?  it's safe to drink out of the tap... it's been treated!

Not saying that there aren't similarities, or that the things i mentioned earlier aren't true for parts (or historical moments in time) of this Continent.  But, did you know that the USA can fit into the continent of Africa about 3 times?  So, expecting that Malawi would be the same experience as Liberia is like saying that an experience in Texas would be the same as an experience in the Canadian north  (HA!).
  

This week has been everything the first week in Malawi should be expected to be, and a bit more.  I was able to find a better place to stay, after they had originally put me up in the College of Medicine guest house, which was 7000 Kw a night (43$) which ends up being more than 1300$ per month.  UM.... not affordable.  and, it was lonely since i was the only one there.  I was able to search out connections (via some missionaries), and eventually spoke to some people who led me on a good direction.  I am now staying in a NGO (Beit Cure, which runs an orthopaedic hospital) hostel, which is 25$ a night, with breakfast and dinner included.  I have my own room with a desk, and common bathrooms.  There are 3 other girls here, who are medical students from Zimbabwe.  It is a 5 minute walk from the nursing school (KCN) and just a bit further to the hospital.

KCN facilities are quite nice.  printing might prove to be expensive, and internet is a bit of a nightmare. but I have also found out about how to get 1GB monthly packages on something called a dongle (like a USB stick that sends out a signal to the cell network here), which I can use as a back up (Which I am using right now) for 16$ a month.  not to mention the random power losses at the school (at at the hostel... I was writing this as an email under candle light) :)   i am sharing a little office with a Malawian PhD student and other M.Sc students are the student block for their classes.  I hope to get to know them better.  A M.Sc student who was doing her Midwifery exchange in cape town fell down dead last week, and so I know/presume that a lot of the delays around getting me organized is because the of everything that comes a long with that.   

Finally, the infamous African GI bug has already caught a hold of me. Long story short, is that it started on wednesday, and since then I have had uncontrollable runs.  Last night, I was able to go the the hospital with the two med school girls from the hostel, who knew one of the docs who was working at the time.  We were able to get my bloods done (no malaria) and some IVF...  i was on a ORS (which... BTW... is disgusting!) regiment, and eating rice pudding and bananas.  Friday, I was seen by the KCN nurse who told me to do the "Malawian way" and not just wait for it to pass through, but rather just start the drugs asap.  SO, i am on an antibiotic and no longer feeling like the walking dead... but still very low on energy.  Today I was able to get out of the hostel for about 2 hours (i came home and napped for 2.5 following the excursion) to go to a grocery store, pick up some apple juice, 5L of water, and some apples.  I also ate 3 meals today, which is very promising!!! :)

everyone here blames it on eating some food from a roadside stand.  I blame it on being away from this continent for too long.  :)

That's enough for now!!!

with love from Malawi.

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