Sunday morning. Early morning. Instead of getting just a few hours’ sleep, I let Saturday melt into Sunday and leave for the airport in the middle of the night. Not for the first time, but for the last time.
Sitting on an uncomfortable, hard bench, the airport offers one final glimpse of Pakistan. People from different regions mix together in the waiting area. The tranquility and quietness in this area is a world away from Quetta. But despite the chaos and instability in Quetta and nearby Kuchlak, the two MSF health facilities provided quality healthcare. Healthcare in an area where it is equally important to provide a safe haven for patients: a safe haven that MSF could provide to them.
As my flight to the Middle East is being announced, I swing my backpack onto my back and I can feel the heavy winter coat hanging on the side. While I walk to the gate I can’t help thinking again about the frozen water pipes this winter, and the difficulties we faced in keeping the hospital warm. It was an extreme winter that contrasted with a mild winter back in Europe. Then there is the quietness that I hope to find in Holland, which will be such a huge contrast with Quetta.
From the airplane the airport appears to be dark. There is hardly any activity to be detected. The same quietness that could be found at the end of a working day in the office, when the evening had started and all my colleagues had gone home. Then there would be time to sit back quietly and let the day pass by one more time. On the plane, half an hour later, everybody is being pushed into their seats. Then there are just a few more hours to let the whole mission pass by one more time and try to take in what has happened in the past months.
Then, back in Holland, it’s time to jump on the racing bike again. Combining the first rays of sunlight and the fresh breeze. And the strong headwind is pretty nice.
Erik is a logistician working in Quetta, Pakistan. Find out more about Erik and the the MSF Pakistan blogging team.