Happy Birthday to Me

Trip Start Jan 02, 2009
Trip End Mar 22, 2009

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Flag of Sierra Leone  ,
Saturday, March 7, 2009

Apologies again for the unseemly gaps in my blogging, but internet is bad at the best of times, and with so many volunteers around at the moment, my net time is pretty limited.  But I thought I'd better make a little time to lock myself in the office with a computer and tell you a bit about my African Birthday Experience.

We actually got to have a bit of a double birthday extravaganza, since our Administrator, Julia, has her birthday the day after mine.  I decided that the occasion required a big fat chocolate cake, and so my first priority of the day was to make one, using the Foundation's solar oven. (Solar oven construction is one of my adopted projects here, and it's pretty cool stuff.  I think I'll start using one in the US.  More on this later.)  And so 30,000 leones (or $10) and 3 and a half hours later, using nothing but the power of the sun, I managed to make a very decent cake.

Beyond that, the day passed in a fairly usual way.  I've been spending more of my time doing carpentry and less time teaching, partly for lack of willing students, and mostly because the local paramedical college took back the CPR manikin.  I also have been occasionally donning scrubs to sit in on surguries, but it's been croweded in the theater lately.  Dr. Maggi, our founder, is trying to get at least 15 surguries in before he leaves next Friday.

The day was also tempered a bit by some tragedy.  Musa, our bookeeper, was admited to the hospital late the night of the 4th.  Illness is of course common here, and we didn't think much of it until the morning of the 5th, when we went to see him at a private clinic.  He was unconsious and clearly not in a good way.  It didn't really come as a surprise then when Musa, aged 44 years, died at about two in the afternoon of what we suspected to be some combination of stroke/anurism/heart failure.  The local custom of mourning a death here is for the women who knew the deceased to wail loudly, and mournful cries pervaded the hospital for about an hour.  Unfortunate, but death is a fact of life hear as it is anywhere else.

We did have a very nice birthday dinner in the night.  We went to Georgetown, the local watering hole, and had a very nice sphagetti dinner, with a surprise cake, planned by Jenn, and Austrailian nurse volunteer.  It was not bad, although it was heart shaped and pink frosted, and looked conspicuously like a wedding cake.  That left the solar cake untouched at home, but I suspect that somehow we will manage to eat both.  I also got a pretty good looking shirt made for me as a gift, along with a gallon jug of local gin.  The label has a hilarious picture on it, and I'm mostly using it as a paint thinner for a couple of my carpentry projects (seriously).

I've hogged the net enough for now, but I'll try to write a couple more times this week.  I took a pretty cool trip last weekend that I want to mention, and there are a few other things of merit to write.  Alas that my camera has stopped working, despite the care I've taken with it, but I've still got plenty of photos to share on my return.

Thanks to those of you who sent birthday wishes!
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colemiester on

Re: Hello
Ah-ha! Excellent! Bo is a small town with a large population (about 500,000), so it has a small, busy downtown and a packed market near the hospital, while the house is in a far less dense community maybe a 10 min drive away. The guest house is nicer than you expect (I'm trying to upload some pics). 3 Bedrooms, 3 baths, dinning room, living room, kitchen, walled compound with running water as long as the well holds out, and power via generator for about 4 hours daily.

Helen is the one to talk to about getting here. I'd bring any luxury food items that you are into, most common medicines can be found at the local pharmacy. As for things to expect, prepare to be completely mobbed by porters and taxi drivers at the airport, and for a very bumpy car ride :)

Safe Travels, if you have any more questions let me know!

amboka on

Nice Reading
I might see you when in Bo around mid August

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