feb 16. my visa has come through. i am going to pick it up in a few hours, at the end of the day. i leave tomorrow at 5 am for khartoum.

feb 16. my visa has come through. i am going to pick it up in a few hours, at the end of the day. i leave tomorrow at 5 am for khartoum.

i thought the beginning was last week. now as i get closer to africa, and closer to abyei, i realize that it won't begin in earnest until i lay my suitcase down in the small room i will have in abyei, and take from it the few things i brought from home. some clothes, some books. pool table.

trying to laugh because i am a bit nervous. it is a similar anxiety that i felt when i did my first overnight shift after graduating from my emergency residency, when i realized that i would be the only MD in the emerg, that i was responsible, and anything could happen. after a while the feeling faded. i realized it was better just to walk into the emergency and not even look how many people were waiting, or how crazy it was. it didn't matter. just do what you can and work through the night until it is time to go home and sleep.

so i'm working on that right now. i'll just do what i can. and just like the evening before that first night shift, all that i can see in my mind are the challenges, and none of the rewards. and there will be many. by the time i am done, and i will remember to report on it, i wager that they will far outweigh any hardship.

this morning, half asleep, i stumbled into the hallway of my tiny hotel

and ran headlong into a man my age holding a toothbrush. "dentifrice?" he asked. i returned to my room and found him some toothpaste. we chatted. he was with msf too. most of us in this place are. it's like a halfway house. we are either halfway gone, or halfway home.

he is a logistician. he was on his first mission in guinea conakry, but was evacuted a few days ago, after only two months in the country. guinea is at war with itself. the government has recently imposed a 20 hour curfew to deal with increasingly violent protests. MSF treated 275 wounded in the capital over the weekend. i remember sitting in on a meeting earlier this week, as the office talked about various projects. guinea came up. there was positive news. msf would be allowed to move around the capital from 10 am to 6 pm if they flew their humanitarian flag. i don't know what has happened since.

[More Info: For an update on Guinea and MSF's action there, click here to read the full news release]

he turned towards his room to brush his teeth and to pack for home. "what now?", he said, "no plans. no idea. good luck to you."

just do what you can until it's time to go home.

i will send word from khartoum. have a lovely weekend.