Fieldset
Travels and the World Cup

It’s hot. Someone told me it was 43 degrees today. I’m an American, so I had to Google 43 centigrade and convert it to Fahrenheit – 104°F. And it’s only June.

It’s hot. Someone told me it was 43 degrees today. I’m an American, so I had to Google 43 centigrade and convert it to Fahrenheit – 104°F. And it’s only June. Fortunately my office has AC, so I’ll try not to complain too much as I remember fellow MSF’ers who are sitting in the shade somewhere in Sudan and hoping it’s only 40°C.

I came back from holidays last week and quickly plunged back into the pile of data awaiting my return. Note to self: don’t return on the first week of the month when monthly reports are due. Holidays were a chance to decompress from the pressures at work, as well as check out the country I’ve called home for the last 4 months. Our doctor from Kyrgyzstan and I took the train to Samarkand – even the name evokes images of Silk Road mystic and wonder. As old as it is (more than 2500 years?), they’ve cleaned up the place and polished the mausoleums, mosques and madrassahs. It’s a place unlike any I have ever been. I’m at a loss for words so I hope the photos get through.

After a weekend in Uzbekistan’s historic city, we flew to the ancient city of Istanbul, which was named “Constantinople,” and before that “Byzantium.” We wanted to be in the city that straddles two continents, to see the Aya Sofia and Blue Mosque, to eat fresh grilled fish, and to feel the famous welcome of the Turkish people. But truthfully, we also went to shop in the malls. Lame, I know, but I still relished sitting in a movie theatre and buying new clothes.

Now I’m back, with a timeline to finish implementing a new information system before my end of mission. I’ve got a renewed perspective, and hopefully enough energy to get through these final hectic months. Holidays are good for that, and I’ll never understand why Americans don’t get more time.

Americans are also probably the only people not currently consumed by the World Cup either, but I have my favorites (Mexico, Argentina, USA, Ghana, Germany and Brazil).

Five phrases overheard in Istanbul:

1.What exactly is supposed to be buried in Constantine’s Column?

2.Backgammon, anyone?

3.I think all taxi drivers drive like that.

4.What’s up with all the cats?

5.…. – speechless in the Aya Sofia.