Friday, August 26, 2011

Going to the vet, Malawi Style.

Gone are the days where I can just hop in my car and drive wherever the wind, or traffic, may take me. It still shocks me how much a car can change you life, change everything about it. I’m proud of myself that I manage to get around without a car, get around quite well actually, and even manage to navigate the public transportation system fairly well.

All my smugness and self-satisfaction got blasted right out the window the other day when I had to haul the puppy, no longer a small puppy, into the city to be seen by the vet. I had put it off getting the immunizations for long enough, possibly leading to his afore mentioned illness.

Simon and I woke up yesterday morning around 4:30, had our breakfast, packed our lunches, and left home around 6:15am with plans to arrive at pre-arranged transport at 7am. It normally takes me 25 minutes to walk there…. turns out, dogs slow you down. Especially dogs that still don’t understand the concept of a leash. Now we’ve been practicing our leash training by prancing around the house with it; we had even graduated to walking around the house with it. Nope, not the same as a 25-minute/75-minute walk. In fairness, he didn’t pull that much. He did however cower and shake uncontrollably every time a chicken came within 10ft; there are no less than 11,23,820,982,309,823,948,203,948 chickens walking around my village. He’s also refuses to walk if there are cars, people, large rocks, holes of any nature, big sticks, and strong breezes.

Over an hour later we arrived at my friend Diane’s house who had graciously agreed to let us ride along with her to the city. How does Simon thank her? By vomiting profusely all over me, the seat, the car floor, her coffee cup, and himself.

As previously agreed, we were dropped off on the street where we could take a public bus to get to the vet’s office. Important point: Many Malawians are terrified of dogs, even 7kg dogs like Simon. They are even less impressed with vomit-covered dogs. Can't say I blame them.

The bus dropped us off in the middle of the market in the largest city in Malawi. It took exactly 0.2 seconds for me to understand that Simon was absolutely, under no circumstances, going to walk through the chaos. So into my arms went the vomit dog; not that it mattered since I was equally covered. Just six blocks to go!!

I suppose I should have expected this, since I’m not the picture of grace and poise normally; but, of course, I fell, crashing to the ground with a shriek, still clutching the dog high in the air so as to avoid crushing him. Skinned both my knees, which started bleeding like slaughtered pigs (believe me if you haven’t seen this in person, its gory).

5.5 blocks, after Simon desecrated a churchyard, and peed on a Malawian’s shoe, I limped into the vet, caked in blood, vomit, and despair.

Simon is now vaccinated.

The vet says I need to return in three weeks for the second round of shots…

Thursday, August 25, 2011

It takes a hell of a lot more than a just a village...

I admit that my blogging these days has beensporadic at best. I WANT to do better, but life just seems to get in the way. Simon decided last week that he wanted to take a few years off my life by attempting to end his own. I won't go into details for those of you with delicate constitutions. Lets just say this: I have NEVER, EVER wanted paper towels and Lysol spray more.
Three miserable days into his illness, after laying on the couch with him and sobbing every second that I wasn't at work, I got desperate and emailed my mother to please try to contact a veterinarian in the area and try to solicit any advice.
My mother is next to sainthood; if you've been lucky enough to meet her you know how she puts others before herself every single time. Even though she was on vacation she not only contacted one vet, but several, until she got some answers. Because she did this I was able to give Simon the medicines that saved his life. I just want to say thank you so much to her and my father, and thank you so much to the responses from various vet's, both in Georgia and North Carolina, that helped me out. I am touched that you were willing to help even though there was no chance of monetary compensation.
Simon and I both say thank you very, very much. I sincerely hope that we won't have to go through anymore illnesses (he's now fully immunized). However, it is a wonderful feeling to know how supported you are by your family and community, even way, way, way over here.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

My House, in all its brick and mud Glory!

Finally, pictures of the front and back of my house! Someday I may actually have grass!

The rooms from left to right: chim (outhouse), dog house, outdoor shower, brick oven room, and compost pile room.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Hotel, Motel continued...

I have to admit I was a little hesitant to dedicate two whole posts to staying in a hotel. I mean really, how much can one talk about? HA! Part of the reason I haven't posted in awhile is because I'm still recovering from the process. Needless to say, I did end up purchasing the box of wine in an effort to soothe my damaged psyche.

Day 5 of living in a hotel: Day started off great! A friend shared the contents of a care package, and since Salami and cheese are best enjoyed from the comforts of bed, I tucked in and face planted into both of them. Crumbs don't matter, the insects have never seen salami so how would they know they liked it?
Day 6 of living in a hotel: They like Salami. A lot. I returned home from an exceptionally crappy day at the hospital, crawled in bed only to fling myself out of it. The bed is no longer safe. There were not one, not two, but FOUR big bugs IN my bed. Then took off the mattress and found more, many, many, many more. I've never packed my bags so fast. I marched straight to the office, hauled the poor door man out of bed, and insisted on being moved. This wonderful watchman moved with no problems at all!
Day 7 of living in a hotel: The new room is much nicer, no smell, no insects, and absolutely NO MORE food in the room. However, the city water supply has apparently exploded. I dare anyone to try and wash their hair in a sink the size of a soup bowl using bottled water.
Day 8 of living in a hotel: Sitting there casually eating my dinner and trying to forget the baby at the hospital with the eyeball the size of a lemon. I am approached by the owner of the hotel who kindly asks me to pay my bill up until the point "of course!" I exclaim, thinking this is a harmless request. When I hand over the money he looks at me like I'm the one with an eyeball the size of a lemon and kindly explains that this is not enough money. He then asks for what is the equivalent to three months rent at my house in the village and politely tells me to get out of his hotel if I can't pay it. Well that just simply not going to work because I'm pretty sure its against Peace Corps rules to sleep on the streets, so after much begging he allows me to move my stuff into the 8 bed hostel. So now up to three room changes... trying not to freak out.
Day 9 of living in a hotel: I've taken to affirmations in the mirror of "just two more days, just one more day, etc." Each morning I have to pack my stuff up, put it in the office, wash with cold bottled water, and the insects have returned. Two stores are now competing to see which megaphone is louder, and after a week of MC'ing they've run out of things to advertise so its like dueling Malawian karaoke from 7am-5pm.
Day 10 of living in a hotel: I have nothing left to say. The city has broken me. I can't wait to get home to my outhouse, my paraffin stove, my buckets. I will never complain about my home again.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Hotel. Motel. Wish it was a Holiday Inn!

What a surly little post to leave you guys with last week. I was just feeling a little frustrated because I have to live in a hotel for two weeks for my Malawian Nurse Midwives Council MANDATORY nursing training.
Day One of living in hotel: Not so bad. Room is surprisingly big, sparse, but big, and my bathroom is larger than most peace corps houses. The paint is a little chipped, but an exceptionally large missing piece resembles a very pleasant looking rabbit holding a hammer. The windows have screens on them helping ventilate the interesting smell, which reminds me of a cross between week old raisins and super glue. There is a TV, and there are outlets, AND light switches so really, what could I possibly complain about?
Day Two of living in hotel: The raisin-glue smell is getting stronger. I decided to put my clothes into the "armoire" but when I opened it I saw an insect of remarkable size, so I've abandoned that idea and, just for safe measure, I pushed the chair against the armoire doors. I'd like to see the insect of Satan move that!
Day Three of living in hotel: Chair plan did not work at all, and insect of Satan appears to have invited all his friends to point and stare at the crazed white girl cowering in the corner in fear. I hear their little legs clicking on the walls as they run around. Thankfully, the leg-clicking is drowned out in the day time by the man with a megaphone hollering "expert rice cooker" and "trousers so nice!!"
Day Four of living in hotel: I grow strong on my strict diet of bread, peanut butter, jelly, margarine, and cheese puffs. In a moment of weakness I walked across the street to stare longingly at the boxed wine (yes, I'm reduced to salivating at wine wrapped in cardboard), but I lost my nerve when I realized that a box is the equivalent of three nights in the hotel.

Stay tuned for nights 5-10....