To the rescue

Well it’s Sunday again, at last! I was hoping to sleep in but alas, the ever-present “Sunday Dawn Drummers” woke me at around 6am and try as I might, despite my pillow encasing my head, I could not go back to sleep!

Well it’s Sunday again, at last! I was hoping to sleep in but alas, the ever-present “Sunday Dawn Drummers” woke me at around 6am and try as I might, despite my pillow encasing my head, I could not go back to sleep!

Still it was nice sitting on the bench overlooking the ever-rising river with my daily breakfast of coffee and a smoke, the compound cats (who have recently decided they are pets) rubbing at my legs and meowing in demand of left over pasta. Yes that’s right, pasta with tomato paste is their favorite and staple diet! Our cook gave them the off-cuts of goat but they refused and promptly jumped up on the sink to eat the left over macaroni that had been soaked and washed with the dishes, and lay limp and swollen at the bottom of the sink!

One-by-one the expats arrived, had coffee, cereal and then returned to the peace and tranquility of their rooms for further rest. I’m out in the communal dining room writing my weekly memoirs (can’t say that my tukul provides too much relaxation due to past events) and waiting with great expectations in the hope that yesterday’s fish imitations, miming show and stick drawings in the mud will result in the arrival of some kind of large fish.

This last week we have been down to a bare minimum and no veggies (other than the tinned tomato paste but that doesn’t count) and each day we’ve asked the cook to get us some fish to no avail. The talk around the dinner table has revolved around food, what Suzanna’s going to eat when she gets home (in 2 weeks), what Kirsten’s mum's going to cook her when she gets home (in 4 weeks), what we could cook if we had some ingredients, our favorites from home etc, etc. As I’m off for my weekend break next weekend, my mouth is watering at the thought of a “Baro burger and fries” from the Baro Hotel in Gambella. The Injera (sour pancake) combined with shredded goat and mashed lentils, chick peas or beans, not exactly my favorite is also readily available, not to mention the possibility of chocolate! And SHOPPING!!!

I can’t wait. Funny how shopping makes a girl feel better, very therapeutic and for medicinal purposes, of course.

Last night after 15 trips to the pantry and incessant episodes of staring into the pantry, Kirsten made corn fritters out of flour and the last tin of corn, and I made toasties out of the stale bread rolls, a couple of eggs from my blessed chooks, some chutney, onion and you guessed it tomato sauce!! Anyway they weren’t half bad considering, and the crunch of roasted bread, was a long-lost sense for our pallets!

It’s just started raining, the usual Sunday torrential downpour, so there’s no way we can get to Jikow next Tuesday unless a miracle occurs and a boat motor falls from the sky, so I think I’ll settle in for a session of Man Vs. Wild, get some tips off of Bear Grills (probably try to keep from drinking my own urine) but still you never know what will come in handy when stuck out in the never-never. To tell you the truth, I’ve had enough adventures lately, I’m feeling quite exhausted and could do with a nice week of hassle-free work without any more chaos, challenges or calamities!

But a few hours later on the same Sunday night I was in Gambella! I’d just started watching a movie when Doc Suzanna came in with a look of horror on her face! Our logistician in Gambella had called and was really sick. She had the worst headache of her life, diarrhorea and vomiting, and high fever. Within 20 minutes the driver was there and I was packed up with malaria testing equipment and drug supplies. It’s just coming into the malaria season and we’ve had a couple of cases of cerebral malaria that is either fatal or if the patent survives or leaves them severely brain damaged.

As I won’t be going to mobile clinic for a few days it was decided I’d take the four hour trip to assess, treat and potentially retrieve her out to Addis if needed. The four hour trip on shockingly pot-holed and freshly rained on road left me requiring a dentist to replace the fillings that were shaken loose, but did provide a good workout for the abs and glute muscles. The fact that we were bogged before even getting out of town, we were one hour past the cut off time for leaving and arriving in day light, the fear and concern for our fellow “sole expat” in Gambella, and the fact that it was at least a flight away from Addis (or two days drive) made for a challenging and solemn trip.

Arriving at dusk I found her to be quite sick with high fever, sever headache and abdominal pain but thankfully no meningeal signs. She had tested positive for Malaria and commenced a barrage of drugs to combat it.

So rest, rehydration and some TLC was the “Doctors Without Borders Orders” for the next few days!

Surprisingly, though NOT considering my luck, the four hour trip in my Rossie boots had again fired up the five week old wound on my leg and it had become hot swollen and weeping, the second bout of cellulitis. I too commenced anties and spent considerable time with my leg in the air. The Internet Mobile network and town power supply compensated thoroughly (not to mention a flushing toilet) as I caught up on news from home and was able to upload some photos to share. My weekend break (sort of) had come early!

After three days my patient began to feel slightly human again and was clearly on the mend. I taught the cook how to make green chicken curry and roast rosemary chicken. I’ve also learnt quite a lot about logistics and have helped out where I could. It’s a very challenging position with a diverse range of skills required. Apart from all the ordering of supply and transport arrangements, the management of transferred patients and the supervision of the 11 Ethiopian staff, dealing with the authorities and other actors was not as “romantic” a notion as I thought It may be, with frustration, misunderstandings and miscommunication common. No I think I’ll stick to the Nursing thanks!

So the movement back to Mattar has been postponed and I’ve been here nearly a week. My translator in Mattar has stepped up to the plate and taken over for me. He has sent me a report on the clinics activities and appears to have the team running well to the point of leaving on time without any dramas! I am really proud of him and this will really go far in my hopes of having him promoted into the supervisor’s position when I leave. I would be the last expat in this position and though it would be a huge jump from translator to supervisor, he is up to it and it will be a fantastic and well-deserved reward for his efforts.

Yesterday I went shopping and boy that was fun! I bought eight soccer balls for the boys at each mobile clinic sites, 20 meters of rope soon-to-be skipping ropes, four bottles of nail polish for the girls and a couple of colorful animal posters for the pediatric ward. Plus two of the boat motors are fixed, the food order from Addis is here and I’ll get fresh veggies and bread to take back!!! Wooohoooo it’s gonna be a party when I get home tomorrow!!!

Last night we went out for the long-awaited dinner at the Baro Hotel. We went in a bajaj which is another name for a tuk-tuk, across the very quickly rising Baro, to a restaurant with about 20 outside tables, nestled amongst trees on the banks of the river. A ginger tom greeted me and sat patiently at my side while I drooled over the surprisingly large two-pages menu, knowing all the time that it was a burger I’d be ordering. The waiter in his classic black pants and white shirt brought us an ice cold Saint George beer to start and I ordered the “Big beef burger with fries.” Unfortunately, there were no beef burgers so disappointed I decided on the steak burger,

“ummm no steak sorry.”

"Mmmm ok then I’ll take the fish burger”.

"Errr we have no fish!”

Bugger me! “Do you have any burgers” I asked politely as there were about eight on the menu

“No, no burgers.”

“Mmmm ok what do you have then?”

“ Russian suvlaki”

Aaahhhh! Goat, cabbage and tomato paste sauce!!!!! So I had a plate of French fries (soggy spuds without a hint of French) and tomato sauce! Not the best restaurant meal ever but the beer was cold, the setting nice and the cat friendly!!! Ooops not to mention my feeling-better-patient’s delightful company!