Pangani, East African coast

Trip Start Aug 10, 2006
Trip End Oct 16, 2006

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Flag of Tanzania  ,
Monday, September 25, 2006

If I wasnt spoiled enough by being able to see Zanzaibar when Mike was out here with me, then I have been more by going to Peponi beach! An hour south from Tanga on the edge of the Indian ocean is the small town of Pangani and the village of Peponi. However, getting there was a mission in itself!!! 6 hours squashed 'dalla dalla' style (ie less room than your body takes up) from left, right, front and back - luckily not from above, in the boiling hot sun with sweaty bodies all around is what it took to reach the beach paradise! We thought we'd never arrive - and luckily we didnt drink any water as we werent allowed toilet stops!!!

I travelled to the beach with two German girls; my room mate Stefanie and a pharmacist Heidi. They are both really lovely and gracefully spoke English all weekend - whilst teaching me a few German phrases! We stayed in a beach banda - which is a hut constructed out of palm tree leaves - geckos, cockroaches and all! Set right on the beach amongst hibisuses, bourganvillea and palm trees it is a very serene and relaxing setting. Walking along the beach to the left you pass mangroves and rocky outlets, to the right you pass a village where they make the traditional dhow boats. And on the way we collected such beautiful shells! The children were highly amused and wanted lots of photos taken of them.

The first day we relaxed in the pool (!!!!) as it was cloudy, the next day we hired a dhow 'pepi' and went snorkelling - it was so beautiful, green, gold, red, blue and yellow corals all glistening in the sun, with lots of tropical fish darting around you, sea urchins and starfish (I picked one up!!!) and we even saw a turtle!! We ended our sail by landing on a desert island - which was made entirely from sand - it was so beautiful! Crystal clear seas, blue sky and just sand - with coral and shells - and lots of crazy crabs that kept running around the island!!!

Getting away from the hospital was good. It is so frustrating here - a lot of bureaucray and everything is sooooo sloooooow!!! Getting blood tests takes days and when the lab has completed them they dont tell you but the doctor has to go and collect them (even if results are abnormal!), medications are far and few between - and even if available the patients relatives have to go to a district dispensary to get them and bring them back to the hospital. Doctors dont wash their hands here - and even sometimes they cant because there is no water - and often no electricity to look at xrays etc. This morning I went to a paediatric HIV clinic, which is actually run quite well - 8% of children in Tanzania have HIV transmitted from their mothers and if untreated a third will die in their first year, another third aged 2-3yrs and the rest before they are 15 years of age (that is if they are lucky and the slow progressors). Not much is done to prevent mother to child transmission because c-sections are not really indicated and breastfeeding is encouraged to stop gastroenteritis etc. If a baby is breast fed for 18 months though it doubles the transmission rate, however people cannot afford the formula milk. Currently it is imported and the Tanzanians are trying to make their own but getting the nutrition levels right is proving to be tricky.

One thing that is really frustrating here is getting hold of blood tests, KCMC has a 'research' lab where the equipment and staff were moved to with the lure of more money - but blood tests are not available for everyday patients - just because it looks good internationally on paper! This is extra difficulty in managing the patients when you cannot assess them adequately! It seems to affect all departments in the hospital though - this african 'logic'; surgery is often cancelled because if it rains the linen cant dry!!!

Still suffering with the lack of electricity - apparently the generator has been shipped to the Netherlands for repairs (which will take months!) so meanwhile we have no power a lot of the time (officially it goes off at 7am and returns at 7pm), however in the house that I have just moved to we have a gas hob! So I dont need to continue eating tomatoes and cucumber for dinner everyday. After moving house 3 times now due to more important people arriving to take our place (!) we have finally landed on our feet in the nicest house yet (with a sofa!!).

My Mum and Aunt are coming to visit on Wednesday and we are going on safari and to climb Kili (a bit of it!!) so I am really looking forward to that. Hope you are all well at home - only 3 weeks until I am back!
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