The nurse bought a little weather station when she was in Australia. Last month (June) we had over a metre of rain - on average 35mm every day. But it doesn't rain every day. Just now it rains about 2 days a week, but when it rains it rains heavy. And when it rains crime happens - because the security companies and police are slower to respond. I can't tell if it is less hot in the past few months or if I've just acclimatized. I could not imagine wearing long trousers in the first few months, but I wear my jeans every day now. The nurse says the temperature has been between 29 and 39 in June. Until I went on holiday I only had 1 pair of long trousers and when I arrived I only had 1 pair of shorts. I don't think I'll take any of my current clothes home. They get worn out so quickly here. I'm not sure what the pattern of the seasons is here. None of the expats stay long enough to work it out and when I ask any of the local staff they tell me it is
currently wet seasons (if it is raining) or dry season (if it is not).
The current team has 4 girls (project coordinator, nurse, doctor, mental health supervisor) and me. Everyone I speak to seems to think that working with 4 women must either be heaven or hell. Most people assume the later. Actually they are cool and we get on really well most of the time. Most evenings we sit under the canopy at the back of the house and talk about our day or what direction the project should be taking.
We have a cook, which surprised me when I arrived. It turns out that when projects have a cook the team will eat well, when they don't the team eat badly and are more likely to be sick. Our cook is a wonderful old man called Adam who calls me "pikinini" (the Tok Pisin word for child - like I am his son).
The clinic is open 6 days a week and we stay open on public holidays (people don't stop bashing/chopping/burning/biting their wives for public holidays) and so we can take a Sunday off when we want. But for me it never works out like that. Much of our operation is at the house - it's the location of the medical store, where the vehicles are based, the guard's base and the house itself needs things fixed. So Sunday tends to be fixing things at home, making up medical orders and counting stock day. Last Sunday was an exception however and we were given permission to go to a nearby peninsula by boat. It was great - we went snorkeling, hiking and even got to see a WWII Japanese tunnel that foreigners are normally preventing from seeing (the land-owner's sister works in the hospital, so he liked our work!).
I had to decide last week if I wanted to extend my contract until the end of December. It was really tough decision. Reasons to leave include the possibility that my former job in London is being kept open for me to return, but they are not sure - but it would be nice to go back to earning some money! There are friends that I am missing. I could really do with a rest. Reasons to stay are the wonderful people I work with and my love of the job. I get more effective all the time as I learn about how things work in Lae and in MSF. In the end I decided to leave, as planned, knowing that
I will do it all again sometime. Maybe sometime soon.
So today is Sunday. I'm writing this on my laptop under the mozzy net I put up this week. I was sick during the week and the doc thought I had malaria but the blood test said otherwise. I had planned to sleep late here, but it never happens. The guards are too noisy and it is too light. I'm going to the shops to stock up on a cola bean based carbonated soft drink and then to the clinic to see if any friends have emailed me. I'm feeling quite pleased with myself as my assistants did their first full stock count yesterday and we don't have a massive list of things to do at the moment (just find a warehouse, fix the air conditioning, replace the battery in the landcruiser and input the stock count into the computer - what a breeze!)