A Travellerspoint blog

Robben Island and TAble Mountain

Driving stick, meeting up with friends and exploring Cape Town

Friday was a normal work day. We all went to the doctor's meeting and then had a lecture in the morning. The lecture covered the connection between colonialism and the spread of TB. After the lecture, we went to tea which was a big deal because the hospital was celebrating women's day, which was on Monday. This meant that all women got free tea, free cakes, massages and a fashion show. I just got cake and tea. It was still a fantastic tea break. After tea, we went back to work in the ARV clinic but no one was there so we went around the hospital and discovered if anything was going on. We saw a three year old girl get indibated because of the severity of her Pneumonia. We then went to the medical ward and saw how they worked. After that, we got picked up and went home. When we got home, Abby and I tried to take naps but that failed. Instead of sleeping like normal people, we went out to Long street, the happening place in town, where we met up with people who were in our program in Durban. We went to Mama Africa and to a club and then went home.

Saturday was a typical Cape Town day. I drove everyone downtown so we could go to the Greenmarket square. It's the souvenir square where you can get everything authentic and bargain with everyone as well. I bought some jewelry and a bag. After the market we all went to Robben Island. I was so excited to go there and it was worth it. We left from the Nelson Mandela gateway at the waterfront, then we got on a ferry that took about 30 minutes. When we arrived on the island, we got on a bus that gave us a quick tour of the island and showed us where everything was located. Such as, the maximum security prison, the leper cemetery, the hospital, etc. After that we went on the prison tour. The tour was conducted by a former political prisoner. He was sent to Robben Island when he was 20 because of his participation in the Soweto uprising of 1976. We went through all of the sections. We then saw Nelson Mandela's cell. It still had is bed, cup, and plate. It was amazing that he was there for 18 years. The tour guide said that they conducted classes there in order for everyone to get a proper education and Nelson Mandela was a teacher as well as a student. Mandela also wrote a manuscript while imprisoned on the island and this manuscript was snuck off the island and published in England. I apologize for the tangent but it was sooooo interesting. After the tour of the prison, it was time to take the boat back to the main land. It took a nap on the boat. Surprise!!! We then went home and changed for dinner. When Abby and I arrived home, our host mom had her entire family over for a brie. A brie is basically a barbeque. We didn't stay long since we left again to go out to dinner to a place on the waterfront called Balthezar. It was fantastic food!!! We were all soooo tired that we went home to sleep.

Today we got up early because everyone but me wanted to hike table mountain. The only bad part was that it was cloudy. Due to the weather conditions, we decided to go downtown and hang out for a while to let the clouds blow over. We then made our way to table mountain. The most difficult part was driving there because we have a stick shift car and it is crappy and I'm not a professional at driving stick so the whole time I was in first gear, florring the accelerator. It was bad. Now I know what you mean Leanne. Hills are evil. Once we got to the cable car, the group went to the trail head while I did some postcard shopping and made my way onto the cable car. The cable car floor rotated so while taking my four minute trip up, I got a 360 degree view of Cape Town. When I got up to the top, it was foggy but I still enjoyed my time by drinking some hot chocolate and reading while looking out onto the mountain. Everyone else met up with me and three more of them decided to take the cable car down. Now that we are down, we are taking it easy tonight since tomorrow is a work day. This weekend was a fantastic Cape Town weekend.

Posted by smtn912 09:32 Comments (0)

Cape Town

Sorry for the delay everyone but I have limited internet access, as said before. I am in Cape Town and have been here for six days now. I live in Athlone, Vangaurd Estate with a woman named Liz, her daughter and her granddaughter. Liz has two cats, two birds and watched Big Brother Africa almost all the time. I arrived Saturday in the afternoon and hung out with my roommate. We then decided to go to the happening place in town, Long Street. We didn't do too much but we still had fun. The next morning, we slept late, went to the nearby mall to use some interenet and then met our medical director and our cooridnator for our orientation. On Sunday night, we stayed home to catch up on our sleep. Monday was a national holiday called Women's Day. Celebrate those women!! So we did nothing that day except . . . we rented a car. . . a stick shift car. That's right ladies and gentleman . . . I can now drive a stick shift on the left side of the road!!!! YAY! Anyway, we hung out at the V&A Waterfront for the rest of the afternoon and headed home for dinner. Dinner was special that night becasue one of our friends who was in Durban with us was making dinnner for us on her last night. We also went to bed early that night. Lame, I know. We then got up early on Tuesday to go on our tour of Cape Town. It took all day from 8am to 6pm and we went everywhere. From the Castle of Good Hope to District 6 and back to Athlione. All in one day!!! AFter that there was no energy left in me to do anything else. Wednesday was our first day of at work at Eerste River hospital on the Cape Flat and if you have of the Cape Flats you know that it isn't a perfect vacation spot. Anyway, Abby and I worked in the ARV clinic all day doing bloods, seeing patietns and learning all about ARV therapy. We got off of work late and then went to the casino that night. It was amazing, like a mini Las Vegas. I'll let you know how our first weekend in Cape Town goes.

Posted by smtn912 07:55 Comments (0)

Last Week in Durban!

This is my last week in Durban before I head to Cape Town. I am very sad to leave some of the great people that I have met here but I've told them that I would be back someday.

On Monday, Stella and I went to the Blue Roof Clinic. The Blue Roof clinic used to be a night club in Wentworth. Wentworth is a district near the beach which is South of Durban. The night club closed down and Alicia Keys bought the place and renovated the place into a HIV therapy clinic. Now, she funds the clinic which had one doctor, two nurses, a staff of 8 and 1500 patients. This clinic was well maintained and beautiful. We met the cook who said that Alicia Keys comes to the clinic to visit when she is in the country. It sounds like she is really motivated to help those who have HIV. After that, we went out into the community to visit some patients. We gave one patient a walker and then we went to a home that was a 24 hour care for those who get too sick and are unable to take care of themselves. We got back to Blue Roof and met the doctor who was done seeing patients for the day. We left soon after and then went to Victoria Street Market.

On Tuesday, Abby, Stella and I went to the Chatsworth Hospice. The hospice is a privately funded hospice. The donations are from the people in the community and the hospice is nicer than some of the hospitals. The nurses were very nice as well. We went out to visit patients in their homes. Most of the patients we saw were well but one was having trouble due to his brain tumor. We did some physical therapy with him and showed him some other exercises for him to practice. After our visits, we went to Dr. Nair's office. Dr. Nair is a private primary health doctor who works with the hospice. He told us his background and all of his jokes. He also made fun of me for thinking that bunny chow is actually bunny. Bunny chow is not bunny. It's chicken curry in bread. Anyway, after work we went to the FIFA store and then home.

Today and tomorrow a group of us are attending this tuberculosis conference. Today it was very interesting and the food they served was great. Tonight I'm going to the aquarium, tomorrow we say goodbye to our coordinators, Friday we say goodbye to our families and on Saturday I go to Cape Town!!!! Talk to you when I'm at the cape!

Posted by smtn912 07:42 Comments (0)

Clinical rounds

Last week with the entire group!!

I started off my week at Marianhill clinic. It is a primary clinic in a rural area near St. Mary's. When we arrived, we met Vusi Ngcobo who is the HIV counselor at the clinic. He deals with patients who are HIV positive or who might be HIV positive. He was very excited to see us and wondered what we could do to help the clinic so when I get back to Seattle, I'll see what is going on in the public health area. After meeting Vusi, I went to join a nurse to see patients. In these rural clinics, there are no doctors on staff during the day. The dermatologist and dentists come once a month. The nurses are the ones who give the patients the medicine or refer them to the hospital. Before we got started, a cockroach fell on me. I screamed, the nurse grabbed her bug spray and we continued on with the day. The patients are also looking for injections when they come to clinic despite their symptoms or what the nurses say. Sometimes, the nurses give them the injections and sometimes they don't. Most of the patients complained of flu like symptoms while others had more severe problems and were referred to the hospital. After work that day we went to the internet, wnet home for dinner and then proceeded to go to our local hole in the wall, Cyberia.

On Tuesday, we went back to Marianhill and we were going to see Sangomas. Sangomas are traditional healers or "witch doctors". The first one was a man from Malawi who practiced magic with his traditional medicine. He said the most of his patients first got their fortune told and then he prescribed a cure for their problems. He performed some magic for us, with Abby as the guinea pig, and produced 50 Rand. In the end, he said that the money was cursed and that she should use it as soon as possible. Once we left, we got soda and some fries, just in case the money was cursed. The second one was a younger woman who practiced Zulu traditional medicine. what was different is that she prayed to her ancestors to see what was the problem with her patients. Both of these Sangomas refer patients who have TB or HIV to the clinics to get referred to hospitals for treatment. The third stop was an orphanage. i played with the kids for about 20 minutes and took some pictures. There were only four of them at the time and the youngest was 2 and the oldest was 6. After that, we left the clinic and went home to get ready for dinner. All 17 of us went out to dinner at a place called Cafe fish on Wilson's Wharf. If anyone every comes to Durban and likes fish, this is the place to go. It was delicious!! After dinner, we went to the BAT center to hang out and then made our way home.

Wednesday was my first day at Malagasy clinic. Like the Marianhill clinic, Malagasy was a rural clinic that was small and only had nurses on staff. What was different from Marianhill is that Malagasy was older and only had one nurse. The clinic essentially was a house that they turned into a clinic. The day was really slow so by 1pm Roy picked us up and then we went to another meeting with our medical coordinator. We all wanted to go out that night to a bar called Joe Cool's. It was on the beach and it seemed nice. So we drove all the way downtown only to discover that it was closed. BOO. instead, we went to another Bar on the beach called Moyo. We all hung out for a while until we got tired and headed home.

Thursday was my last day at the clinic. The day was pretty slow, like the day before. It wasn't until right when we were suppose to leave did it get interesting. We were seeing a patient when we opened the door and saw tow people trying to carry an unconscious woman into the consulting room. Speaking rapidly in Zulu, the nurse decided to lay the woman out in the waiting room where the benches were. There was only some in the waiting room, including the staff. While they were trying to move her, I noticed that she was trying to breath and was drooling. Once she was laid out on the bench, the nurse went over, came back and said that she couldn't find her pulse. Five minutes later, she died. I was shocked!!! It happened so fast that I didn't know what to think. The nurse and other staff (which is only two people) tried to call the morgue but they wouldn't pick up. I also tried to call but they still wouldn't pick up the phone. By the time we left, her body was in the waiting room and the funeral services were on there way. I got home and decided to have some nutella and a nap. It was a tough day. Once I woke up from my nap, I got ready to go out to dinner with everyone. It was our last night out with everyone!!! We went out to dinner on Florida street at a restaurant called Bean Bag Bohemia, also delicious. The topic that was most discussed was the woman who died at the clinic. After dinner, some of us decided to hang out at TacoZulu. We hung out there for a while until we got tired and decided to go home. I had to say goodbye to Amy and Randi who were leaving but I am suppose to see them in Cape Town but we shall see.

Friday was a relaxing day. I got up at 11, went to the beach and hung out with everyone. Later, we all went out to our local establishment, Cyberia, which you have heard of before. Some people got drunk but I just enjoyed seeing everyone and talking. The night few past us and we headed home. I said goodbye to everyone who was leaving the next day. Some people even cried. Saturday I got up early to say goodbye to some more people and get ready for Durban July. Durban July is this huge horse race, kinda like the Kentucky Durby, where everyone dresses up crazy. This year the theme was flowers. I had nothing crazy to wear but I improvised. Nithin, Stella and i went to the race and watched three races and only bet on one. The big race is the one we bet on and my horse placed fourth which is good when it is out of twenty horses. After the big race, we went to Florida road to get some food and wait to meet up with people. Once we ate, we went to the after party and it was bumping. We danced the night away and I am pretty sure that the music blew out one of my eardrums. We didn't get home until 1:30am but it was totally worth it to go to the party of the year!

On Sunday, I woke up late, did nothing, took a nap, did some research, read, ate dinner, internet. That's it in nutshell. Sunday was my nothing day. Nothing exciting. Will try and keep you updated more often so I don't get so behind again.

Posted by smtn912 12:08 Comments (0)

Rhinos, Zebras, Giraffes and Hippos

Safari in Mtuabuta Reserve near St. Lucia

The weekend started early on Satruday morning. We left Durban at 5am to get to St. Lucia at 10 am. it was a three hour drive but we had many stops on the way but I didn't know since I slept the entire way there. We got to the game park around 9am but had to drive another hour to the safari. Once we entered the park, we saw monkeys and a giraffe was eating on the side of the road. It was amazing!! I will upload photos soon. On our way, we saw two rhinos in the middle of the road. They were just hanging out in the middle of the road and we couldn't approach because we were only in a KIA picanto. Let's see a KIA vs. a rhino. I would pick the rhino. After about 15 minutes, the rhinos finally moved and we continued on our way to the safari. Once we got on the safari we saw tons of giraffes, zebras, rhinos and antelope. The tour lasted about three and a half hours but it didn't seem like enough time to explore. We finished up the safari, got lunch and continued to explore on our own. We went out exploring and didn't find the lions we were looking for but we did find some elephants. They were really far away and we were unable to see them clearly but we still saw them. We then headed back to St. Lucia and stayed the night there. All 15 of us stayed in this lodge, which was amazing, and decided to have pizza and a party night.

The next morning, we all had to get up early to go on the boat tour of the St. Lucia wetlands to see hippos and alligators. Before we left, I got a driving lesson so now I know how to drive stick on the other side of the road!! Anyways, we went on the boat tour and saw hippos and baby hippos. We also saw a few alligators and one fish eagle that was very impressive. After the boat tour, we went to lunch in town, did some local shopping and headed back to Durban. I spent most of the three hour car ride talking to Amy but then I proceeded to fall asleep in the car. When we got home, we crashed and prepared ourselves for another work week.

Posted by smtn912 11:33 Comments (0)

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