One Mississippi, two Mississippi... The cleaning staff at the hotel, it NEVER fails, will walk in every morning while I am in bed. I thought I’d outsmart her and I left the red “Do not disturb” card hanging from the doorknob. She still walked in. Today, I was ready for her. As soon as she opened the door I said “Good morning. How are you today?”
“Oh, oh, sorry. “
“That’s ok. See you tomorrow.”
One Mississippi, two Mississippi... After taking a poll from friends and family, the staff at MSF, and the bartender at the pub about what I should do for the next three weeks while I wait for my new sometime-in-the-end-of-November departure date to PNG, well, I still did not reach a decision. I bring in some reinforcements: an extra large bag of M&Ms, crispy Bugles, mango smoothie. Nada. Still undecided. But really full and on a sugar high.
You see, I am pulled in different directions. I am kind of homesick. It’s been a month since I am on the road, and from previous experiences, this is around the time I get homesick. My humanitarian zest is dwindling. For a change I’d like to wear a dress and heels even though some view my sneakers, t-shirt and jeans get-up as part of my endearing “boyish” charm. I have been eating fried food every day, which together with the beer is creating foie gras out of my liver. And did I say I am homesick. I want to go back home, pick up a few ER shifts, and hang with my friends. On the flip side, I don’t want to have to say goodbye again. Besides, when am I going to get a chance to drift aimlessly again…to Madrid for dance workshops, to Dubai to visit my brother, to London?
I did what any mature, independent woman in my position would do. I deferred and forced Simon make an executive decision for me…he decided I should go to Dubai. That’s that then. Dubai.
Getting ready to head to Dubai, I hear from MSF. Good news. I might be leaving next week. November 15th. Great news. The next day they tell me that I may not leave till the end of November after all. What’s that sound? Is someone scratching a nail on the blackboard??
That’s it. I don’t want to be “it” anymore.
I am hostage in Amsterdam, or at least Holland. MSF has taken away my passport to get my visa to PNG. I can’t leave the country. At least now I am confident that if I get robbed (according to a cop the chances are 75%, which made me muse that he should be doing his job instead of talking to tourists) my passport is safe.
I have become the official welcoming and farewell party for friends that I met at the MSF training in Bonn. I am Tom Hanks in The Terminal. People fly in, we have a beer, they meet MSF staff at the MSF OCA (Operations Center Amsterdam) for their briefing, we have another beer, and then they leave to their field placement. I saw Simon off a few days ago to Katanga, DRC. I will be seeing Ingrid off to Goma, DRC and Rich off to Ethiopia next week.
Now, I am sitting in a café (not to be confused with a coffee shop…my parents and patients might be reading this blog) in the Nieuwmarket square . I spot a camera crewman outside. Soon, people with banners converge onto the scene. 10, 20, 100. Media is at the scene before the demonstrators. Public relations at work. “What are they demonstrating?” I ask the bartender. “No clue”. A couple walks in and mutters something in Dutch as they point at the demonstration. I smile. Tired of telling people that I don’t speak Dutch. I get approached once or twice a day despite my blatantly tourist disposition, complete with the generic backpack, the camera hanging from my neck, and head tilted up looking for street directions with a map in my hand. Short of “dumb tourist here” sign I am not sure what else I can do. These two smile back, so smiling was the right call.
I hear music. Drummers. They materialize in the middle of the demonstration. This thing is turning into a party. People start dancing. I think I might join them. I’ll walk into the middle of the crowd and nod in agreement. Viva la revolucion! Then I’ll dance…hopefully for some good cause.
…three Mississippi, four Mississippi…ten Mississippi……