Monday, July 27, 2009

"I'm Sorry, This Is A Religious Hospital. We Don't Admit Patients On Sundays."

And so I ended up going to Ruvuma Hospital in town. Again. In the middle of the night. The same hospital who diagnosed me twice with malaria when the main symptom was noisy diarrhea. And then didn't give me any information about what the drugs they gave me would do to my body. Which resulted in me being on a drip. With more of the same drugs.

I think you can see where this is going.

I thought I was getting really horrible malaria, when in fact I probably didn't have malaria when I arrived in hospital (and suspect that I only tested "positive" for malaria in the first place so the hospital could sell me medicine). What I had was ridiculously low blood sugar, no appetite, and rapid bowel movements.

Yay for being made more ill than necessary for three days, being fed food I couldn't stomach before eventually being told that the ill feelings were caused because I was severely hypoglycemic, and then having to wait another two days before being given medicine to stop the diarrhea, which was the main cause of the problem. While I wasn't really in a fit state to argue about it.

Once I understood what was happening to my body I could largely look after myself, getting people to bring me the sorts of foods I could eat. Apart from the day I drank too much salty meat broth and gave myself high blood pressure. That was fun.

I ended up staying until last Saturday, and just spent a week at Oswin's, resting and trying not to make his mzunguphobe 20 month old daughter cry. Annoyingly, I missed the whole of Lucy from COCO's visit from Thursday to Thursday. I saw her and she brought me Private Eye and chocolate and it was lovely to see another friendly face, but I couldn't go along with her to any meetings, which would have been really useful.

I also didn't get to make the amazing blog post I had planned about baby urine, the man who cured himself with alcohol, and the day Mwenyekiti at a goat's head. I'm afraid you'll all have to struggle on without it.

This last week, and the last three days in particular, have been about befriending Rosie. She's a lovely friendly little girl but she takes a long time to get used to white people, and she's already throwing some quite impressive tantrums (and there are enough people around the house that she can often get someone to sympathise with her).

She also sees and then wants ("Rosie are you just seeing things in the room and then saying you want them?"). Then she cries when you say yes and tell her to come over, because she thinks you've said no. She seems to be getting used to me saying no sometimes to her, which is good.

Yesterday saw the advent of Rock Baby, which involved Rosie carrying a rock around with her and calling it "Mtoto" (child) and then getting her grandmother to tie it onto her back with a sling. Oswin tied it on for her once yesterday and Rock Baby fell out onto the ground. Oswin the Baby Killer.

She seems to have got used to me now, and makes me ride around on the back of her imaginary pikipiki at regular intervals. We only seem to travel about three inches before she picks it up (it's a small stool) and then carries it a couple of yards away and makes me ride it again. She also appreciates "This is the way the Lady rides, etc".

***

The winner (and indeed only entrant) in the Armpit-Hair-Soap Competition, is my sister and her partner for their kleptomaniac hair suggestion. They win half a biscuit each. Congratulations!

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I'm also wondering about best sites through which to sell t-shirt designs. I'm already registered with spreadshirt.com, but any other suggestions are more than welcome.

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Dish of the Day: Intestines. On Saturday I ate them. Twice. And then had a third opportunity on Sunday, which I declined. They taste okay, but they make the roof of your mouth a bit furry.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Photos! Photos! Photos!

I've finally uploaded some photos with descriptions.

Not all descriptions are written as I type this, but should be by the end of the day.

Tanzania 090617 - Mitawa Primary School 023

Clicky for Set

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

A Word Of Advice For Others Who Frequently Suffer From Viral Fatigue...

Don't get malaria.

More to the point, don't get malaria, seemingly get better and then start cycling/running/walking 5 miles to work and back two weeks later.

And don't eat ice cream. No one told me dairy stops the medicine working so well. (This may not have had an effect, I only had one ice cream first time, on the day I started on the medicine.)

I'm on Quinine this time, which has been making me feel wretched, and makes your ears whine. For seven days. Whoop.

The last two days have been spent in Mpandangindo writing playing with the puppy, taking photos of it and other cute things (I got really really bored), and watching ambitious pigeons try to fly through very small holes carrying two-foot-long twigs. And yesterday I read an entire book.

Oh, but on Sunday evening some of the children and I had a dance to the Pipettes, through the magical medium of the speaker on my mobile phone.

Another problem I've been having (apart from malaria): the soap I've started using conjeals around the hairs in my right armpit, but not my left. I'm left-handed and the soap is "Shearer's Soap: For Hard Working Men", a novelty gift from New Zealand from my old colleague Ann. Anyone with a good-enough sounding scientific theory for why this might be so wins a biscuit.

Saturday, July 04, 2009

The Not OK Hotel

So as I was saying...

Last Sunday was the community health event in Litisha. Our performance group there, Kambano, were all set to perform, along with groups from other communities. We even had a lady called Martha, who is HIV positive, coming to speak there.

The event itself went very well. It wouldn't have been right and proper, however, if everything else had gone to plan.

We got up after our last night in Sanangula at 6.30am, aiming to be at the bus stop at 7.30am and leave our bags in the OK Hotel in town at 9am and head for Litisha straight away. We wouldn't be back until late and so would be staying in town Sunday night.

As it happened, we needn't have got up so early. It took until 8.40am for a bus to come that we could fit onto with all our bags, and although Mr IGP was waiting for us at the OK Hotel, he was also still waiting for the bus we had hired and a couple of other people.

It was a long and pleasant journey to Litisha, beyond Peramiho (which is the other direction from town to Tanga ward), although we were starving by the time we arrived there at 11.20am, having only had a couple of bananas when we got up.

Not to worry, however, as musical food torture awaited us. While one by one pots of food arrived on the table in Mr Matembo's house (he's the Hoja education coordinator, and has a very nice house full of plants), teasing us with their not-yet inaccessibility, the generator was set up, and the television plugged in.

And Rose Muhando appeared.

For those of you unfamiliar with Rose Muhando (that will presumably be all of you, for which you should be very grateful), she is a born-again Christian Gospel singer with a penchant for using very nearly the same tune in every song she sings, for being preachy in multiple expensive-looking outfits in a country where most people are desperately poor, and for causing wanton environmental damage to waterfalls in her music videos.

I'm told she became born-again when her husband divorced her for not providing him with any children (was she married to Henry VIII?), but that's no excuse.

We were "treated" to a good hour and a half of this travesty, and it didn't help that all the music videos were recorded at the same time in the same locations, so they not only all sounded the same, they all looked the same as well. One of the locations, for some reason, was a car park, but it was the waterfall that was most annoying, as they had clearly filled it with soap to make it foam up as much as possible.

When the credits finally rolled (very very slowly, with an instrumental playing in the background), it was a huge relief. Until that is after the credits finished, the words "Bonus Track" appeared on the screen, and there followed Rose Muhando's longest and most repetitive song of all.

The food, when we finally got to eat it (during Rose Muhando, so we were at least able to tune some of it out), was delicious.

For those of you still waiting to hear about the event, so were we. It was supposed to start at 1pm, and of course no fool would expect it to actually start at 1pm, but it was more than a little late, thanks to Mass at the local Church overrunning. The people late from Church (after 2pm) included the Ward Education Officer, and when he arrived at the house, he of course had to be fed as well, which added to the delay.

The event finally started at about 2.30pm, and was brilliant. There were loads of people there, and our Kimamba Performance Group played an absolute blinder. They even used the HIV risk line we did with them in the workshop and school event the week before.

We weren't quite sure about the drama one of the other groups put on about HIV (I couldn't quite follow it but it seemed a bit stereotypical and not very informative), but it was a cracking day.

Martha was a brilliant speaker as well - the crowd weren't really on her side to start with but she definitely won them over by the end. I've got her whole speech on video so at some point we shall translate it so I can explain properly what she said. The long and short of it is that someone she knew spiked her drink - it only took one time to get HIV.

After the event I quickly whizzed round with the camera to interview a few of the attendees ("What did you learn today?" "I didn't learn anything." - that sort of thing) but dropped the fuzzy head off my microphone. I went back to the house to see if the others had picked it up, but they weren't there. It was at this point that someone came looking for me and said...

"The others have picked up the fuzzy head of the microphone. They sent me to come and fetch you, because the bus's headlights do not work."

We hired a bus with no headlights.

I was shown to the village office, where food was being served, and we ate. Then we had a bit of a dance with the performance group while we waited for Oswin, and then decided we still had time to leave before dark.

So we left.

And then we stopped after a couple of miles because someone had promised to take four massive bags of rice to town with them, which involved three people going half a mile away from the main road to pick them up.

We did not have time to leave before dark. Suffice to say it was not safe, and involved an angry motorcyclist following and shouting at us for a mile.

When we arrived back in town, we discovered that I had been placed in a premium single room at the OK Hotel, not a normal single room, and they were trying to charge us a fortune for it. So I said we would not be paying the higher price. And they told us that there were no other rooms left - the hotel was full.

No, I will not be paying the higher price.

Oh look! Here's another room after all! How did I not see that key hung on the wall with all the others before?!

Cheeky gits.

We weren't very happy on Sunday night. Apart from about being alive. That bit was quite good.

***

And in other news...

On Monday I said goodbye to the girls, and went back to Mpandangindo, to discover just after I had left, one of the dogs produced a puppy! It's about three weeks old now. This is what it looked like a few days ago:



Yes, yes, this is the only picture I've posted (apart from those I've posted on the Hoja News Blog), but I promise I will get around to posting some more.

All this week I have been cycling/running 5 miles to work in Sanangula for the tutoring, and since Wednesday we have been doing exams, the results of which are not particularly good - but then, most of the schools the children go to are short of teachers, and we have tried to cram a lot of learning into four weeks. Two of the Form 3 students very blatantly cheated on their Biology test yesterday, so they missed football while I made them re-sit it.

On Thursday afternoon I went to town and over lunch Oswin told me he had a shagalabagala issue to discuss with me afterwards. It turned out that someone from Mpandangindo, who is now studying in Tanzania, has told him that she loves me. I have apparently met her a couple of times before, and the name vaguely rings a bell.

My initial reaction was one of mirth - I know Tanzanians have a tendency to use the word "love" very quickly, but this is taking it to a bit of an extreme. I don't think Oswin's entirely comfortable about being her confidant, either, and would rather I responded to her directly. Which I don't feel entirely comfortable about either.

And I think that's enough of an update for the moment.