28 December 2009

Christmas in Gabs

It has been a very low-keyed Christmas season for me here, partly because Christmas isn't as visible and commercialized here - so there have been very few decorations or signs of the holiday in town - and partly because it is summer here - it was 95 degrees on Christmas day. Most people in Gaborone leave the city for the holidays. Shops close until the week (or two) after New Years and people either go back to their villages or travel to South Africa or any other nearby holiday destination. Lots of staff from the hospital have left until after New Years.

The two holiday-type things I did before Christmas were to attend a concert at the #1 Ladies' Opera House by the University of Pretoria Choir. They sing songs in each of the 11 languages of South Africa. They finished the concert with a few Christmas sing-along songs. Their call and response harmonies and dancing reminded me of one of the things I love most about this continent.

Nancy Chescheir took these pictures. She really captured how lively this group was. I only wish you could hear their singing.

The second holiday event I attended was the Hospital Employee Christmas Party. About 250 of us gathered in the large outside courtyard located in the center of the hospital for food, caroling and some great dancing at the end!

On Christmas Eve 4 of us went to a small local game park in Gaborone that I had not visited before. You can drive yourself around Gaborone Game Preserve so we had a leisurly drive and spent a lot of time watching monkeys.

We found one of the biggest termite mounds we've seen so far. Way too many termites here, which is why there are hardly any wood-based buildings.

Here I am with my buddies Abigail and Jane with a herd of warthogs in the background.

On Christmas Day a few of us left at the hospital staff housing held a Braai (BBQ) in our complex. It was small, but there was plenty of good food.

I hope you're all having a great holiday. I miss you!!!

20 December 2009

Mock Drill

We are in high gear at the hospital, preparing for our opening on January 11th. There are 13 working days left before we open and in the midst of that are the holidays with lots of key people gone.

This past week we had our first hospital-wide "drill" with mock patients - to see how everything from registration to triage, clinic visits, transport of gurneys, the IT system, etc. are going to work. I was a mock patient in the Accident and Emergency Department coming in with a “suspected ectopic pregnancy.” I went through all the different things a patient would and wound up in the Operating Room to get an exploratory procedure and then ultimately surgery.

When they were “done” with the surgery they wheeled me on a gurney to the post-op area. On our way, wouldn't you know, a fire drill began! I was wheeled on the gurney outside, in my lovely cap, while we all waited for the “all clear.” Pretty wild.

19 December 2009

Madikwe Game Reserve

Last weekend 6 of us went to Madikwe Game Reserve in South Africa. It was less than two hours drive from Gaborone. The game park was amazing. It really surpassed what I was expecting. We stayed at Buffalo Ridge Lodge, a beautiful, small resort in the bush.

They have a spectacular pool right at the edge of the mountain, overlooking the valley below.

The best part were the two game drives we went on with our guide, Israel.

From L-R: Nita (Biomedical Supplies Consultant), Jane (Midwife), Abigail (Nurse Practitioner), Israel, me, Becky (Nurse Consultant) - Mo is taking the picture

Early in the first drive we saw 2 endangered black rhinos. Our guide was amazed because there are only 50 in the whole expansive park. They rarely leave the protection of the bush, but we happened to catch them crossing the road right in front of our truck.

We also saw giraffe, wildebeest, elephants, zebra... and lions! The two lions we saw were a male and female. We were incredibly close to them but the truck didn’t phase them at all.

In fact they were mating! They mate on average from 3-4 days straight when the female is in estrous.

The actual "act" takes less than 1 minute (seriously). After it’s over they nap for 20 minutes. Like clockwork the female gets up after 20 minutes and goes over to the male and they do it again. Every 20 minutes. Our guide said they sometimes don’t eat for 3 days. It was truly amazing.

More animals: Here is a baby Zebra with it's Mom. Our guide told us that baby Zebra have legs almost as long as their mother's. They stand very close to the mother so that if predators come, the stripes just blend and the baby isn't seen.

Here is a Waterbuck. I made the mistake of asking our guide Israel what the significance of the white circle on the backside was.

He promptly told me that someone had painted a toilet seat with white paint and the waterbuck sat down. OK how many times has he told that joke.