Saturday, February 24, 2007

A cidade depois do mato!

Title translation: The city after the bush!

So, I am in Maputo. Why, you might ask? In short, I am Mary's escort. In long......

It all started Thursday morning. Mary had been feeling unwell, but she's been sick a lot, and was talking with our PC med staff, so I wasn't too concerned. But then I heard some very strange noises from her room, and rushed over to investigate. To my immense alarm her whole body was convulsing violently with her eyes rolled back into her head, and she was making a strange choking noise. She didn't respond whenI touched her or called her name, and no one was picking up the med staff phone when I called....she really looked like she was dying hollywood style, and I've never been so terrified in my life. As the panic set in I turned Mary on her side and sprinted for MedicusMundi, the NGO conveniently located across the lane from my house. Outside was Patricia, who does logistics there, but is actually a Spanish doctor. So, responding rapidly she ran back with me, calling for the others to bring a car. So they carried Mary to the car, and off we rushed to the hospital. As we were getting her out of the car our med staff called me, and started a dialog with Patricia that continued throughout the day. Dr. Alec, the Russian doc from MedicusMundi, was the attending physician and he came promptly. By this point Mary's convulsions had slowed, and she started to become aware of her surroundings. She was extremely confused, not knowing where she was or what had happened. Patricia and Dr. Alec took fantastic care of her, and I was really impressed by the level of care that they were able to provide in the-middle-of-nowhere Africa in a town with no electricity or running water. They ascertained that she didn't have malaria, and made sure the generator was running long enough to do some blood tests, printing out a surprisingly sophisticated receipt with white count, graphs, etc. Mary was moved to a private room (prob. the only one) in the women's ward, and I stayed with her until she was discharged at the end of the day and Dr. Alec gave us a ride home. I don't know if my standards have just gone down, but the hospital conditions were pretty good. Granted we knew all the docs and probably got better care and attention than anyone else. You had to bring your own water to drink and bathe, and buckets if you need to use the "bathroom''. But, they provided food (xima and beans for lunch and rice and beans for dinner) though you had to provide your own plates and silverware, and everything was pretty clean, I only saw one cockroach (the little ones don't bother me anymore).

So, Friday Peace Corps told us to get ourselves to Nampula to fly down to Maputo. (Very conviently someone else from MedicusMundi was catching the same flight) They didn't want mary traveling alone, so here I am! Thank goodness I have competent doctors a one minute sprint from my house! I don't know what I would have done if I really were out in the bush. So very glad this happened now that my Portuguese is pretty good. Answering medical questions and translating back and forth would have been a lot harder a few months ago...

So, now they will run some tests, see how mary is and decide 1. If she can stay in country and 2. If she can return to site. There's a pretty good chance that I'll lose my site mate, as they may well want to keep her closer to more sophisticated medical facilities. Oy. Alone in the bush. Not a prospect I relish. But if that's what happens C'est la vie, mary needs to be where she's going get proper care if she has another seizure, and I have plenty of projects to keep me occupied. Not only do I have my Bio classes, but my students also want English classes, so I'm going to start teaching english informally, plus the other teachers want their own english class. And we want to work on getting some more books for town library. The two things they really need are textbooks in Portuguese, and reading material in English. The latter I think we'll be able to help with without any difficulties. Let me know if you want to send anything our way! I will be able to use the Administration's P.O. Box in town both for this and for personal mail, so if you want my new address, send me an email or ask my mom. I was actually rather impressed by their collection of portuguese novels--maybe 50 in all, and including two Harry Potter books, the Wizard of Earthsea, some Shakespeare and even Don Quixote. Am 2/3 of the way through Harry Potter e o Prisoneiro de Azkaban, my very first book in Portuguese.

So, that's ''mas ou menos'' the state of affairs here. I fly back into Pemba tomorrow, and already have a ride back to site from there. I treated myself to a lovely Thai lunch, and will soon indulge in an obscene quantity of ice cream. Then I think I'll buy some balsamic vinegar. It's the little things in life....I'll probably check internet (a free hotel internet!) again tonight and tomorrow morning, and then again next weekend when we have our first IST (in service training) in Nampula. I hope to get things back on track at site (I was supposed to give my first exam Thurs/Fri, but that obviously didn't happen), and will keep hoping that Mary is well enough to come back.

It's amazing how BIG Maputo seems to me now. The first day I arrived I remember thinking "this dinky airport is for the capital city?" but now it's ''WOW they have a control tower and everything!'' and the city just seems to have EVERYTHING. Will probably die of shock when I get back to a U.S. city, because the rational part of my mind keeps reminding me that maputo really has about the equivalent of small-town america :) A GROCERY STORE! Wow! Ok, enough for now. Ice cream time....


At 10:09 AM, Blogger Erin said...

Hi Laura! I hope Mary is better! And I hoep she comes back with you so that you still have a site-mate. We miss you!

At 11:18 PM, Blogger ioana said...

Hi Laura!

I am glad that you had a chance to eat some ice-cream. I hope Mary gets well soon, and that this way you will still live together. You are doing really exciting things over there- quite an amazing experience! :-). English classes are also such a great idea. This will mean a lot to these kids in terms of opening their eyes to the outside world! :-) Good luck with everyrhting,


At 2:43 AM, Blogger Sarah said...

I got your text! It was so exciting! I'm sorry to hear about Mary. I miss you so much.


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