What, resting already, only days into your elective? I know it is only day six, and the bible tells me I should rest on the seventh day, but really there is little I can do about it. Nothing seems to happen at the hospital at the weekends. Other than walking the girl who was here to volunteer at the secondary school to the bus stop today at 5.30AM (she seemed very pleased to be going home) I didn't leave the house.
Because of this, a lot less happened today than in previous days here. But this rest was nice in a way; it gave me time to talk with my house-mates and learn about how things work here. Breakfast is cooked everyday for us by our pregnant cook to be ready around 8.30. Unlike many things in Tanzania, this seems a relatively fixed time. Breakfast is my favourite meal, consisting of two oily chapatis and sometimes an egg as well. Today breakfast was ready for us on our return, as the walk to the road takes about 45 minutes to an hour each way.
The kitchen and two stoves on which all of our meals are cooked by our intrepid cook.
The two (remaining) feral girls, along with their obsession with their She-wees, have also decided that Tanzania is a good fat camp to force them to diet, and are happy with the samey food as it encourages them to eat less. Don't get me wrong, I am very grateful for the food, but feel guilty if I eat a lot, given the amount normal Tanzanians eat, and the fact that our left overs are eaten by hospital staff. I hope I will get on with these girls, even though they are very different people to me, talking about their academic success from our first meeting (something I would never do, but perhaps that is because I am still waiting for some kind of academic success). One of them is very sporty and goes for jogs every morning, the other told me she is top of her year within minutes of first meeting her. I will call these two girls Sporty and Smartie.
We spent the time until lunch sitting out in the area in front of our house. I decided to try and be productive, and read up on causes of diarrhoea in the Oxford Handbook of Tropical Medicine A very comprehensive book, and very useful to have on an elective, but disappointingly I don't think it is of the same standard as the Oxford Handbook of Clinical Medicine. Man I love that book! After I had read the chapter (hoping to actually remember some) we had 'Story time' something the girls had started before I arrived. Sporty has brought a kindle with her, and they read fiction to each other from books on the kindle. Sounds like a lovely idea, so I am happy to join in. Being read to is like being a child again!
Lunch was a stew of potato, in a sauce made of tomato and onions, a pretty tasty meal (given the ingredients), cooked by our fantastic chef. After this l sat out on the porch part of the house, while Sporty and Smartie had a siesta, and watched Monkeys climbing the tree right in front of our house. The house we are staying in is made of breeze blocks covered with bumpy solid material, with a tin roof, making it look pretty modern. It is at the end of the village on a dirt road, ending at our house, leading into bushes and trees. About 200 meters through these bushes and trees, there is a cliff face overlooking the huge rift rally with a magical view. Wild life such as monkeys and larger apes that look like baboons brazenly bounce around (accidental alliteration!). Goats are occasionally herded through, by their owners, who roam them around all day looking for anything green to eat. We leave peel from oranges and banana outside the house under a tree for the goats to eat as they go past. Chickens wander throughout the village peeking at the dirt with their Chicks, in search of insects, accompanied by the occasional pet dog to guard them. All in all, its an awesome place I have found myself in, immersed in this village life, so different to life in England.
A monkey climbs the trees above our house for some seed pods
Satisfied with the seed pods he collected he has a munch on them about 10 metres away from me, clearly not scared. He is so cute!
When Sporty and Smartie finish their siesta and come and join me outside, we are starting a political and religious discussion (perhaps dangerous ground with strongly christian Sporty and disillusioned catholic Smartie), when the director of the hospital comes up to the front of the house on his motorbike. There is only one private car in the village, as these are very expensive and not suited to the non-tarmacked trails that connect most villages up. A few of the better off villagers, however, have Chinese made motorbikes. We talk with him for a while; he is very caring, and knowledgeable, exactly the sort of doctor I would want to be working under when I am a junior doctor. He will be called Chief. He tells us about when he was a doctor in the army in the 1970s, when and Tanzania was invaded by Uganda, lead by the aggressive Idi Amin. I didn't really know about this part of Tanzanian/African history, but I learnt that a fantastic response by the president at the timeGaddafi was involved at this time, sending troops to assist Uganda. When Tanzania quickly captured these troops, Gaddafi offered to pay for their return, but the president told him that people were not for sale in Tanzania and sent them back for free. This man sounds fantastic, and obviously many people in Tanzania agree, as I have seen his picture in many places, such as in the dispensary I was working in during the safari. I even hear that he is being considered for a saint hood. Perhaps this is why Tanzanians are so friendly and mild natured. If you are bought up in school with such a national hero, perhaps you are more likely to aspire to pacifist ways. After all, when I was in India, people there seemed very calm and I didn't see any fights, perhaps this is because they are all taught to aspire to be like Gandhi. Or perhaps we British are just much more violent people, hence why we went and created an empire for ourselves...
After our chat and history lesson from Chief, we returned inside to talk with our industrious Cook who was cooking us a dinner of rice and red beans (like kidney beans) over the two charcoal stoves in the kitchen. For lunch and dinner, it seems we either have the potato dish, the rice and beans dish or one based around spaghetti covered in sugar. The latter is my least favourite (in fact it is down right disgusting), but with only three main options, it comes round pretty regularly. In 6 weeks time, I am sure I will be begging for something different, but for now, this is a good experience in living like a Tanzanian person!