John had a conference to go to all day so Salome and I decided to run some errands. We needed to drop off some things at MRCZ, who handles ethical approval for all studies in the country, and then get some office supplies since we don’t even have a stapler or paper clips.
First I went to look at an apartment that BRTI has not too far from the office. It’s in a nice neighborhood and has a guard but the rooms themselves were kind of depressing and I left that I would be very lonely there. It was a very large two bedroom place with a huge dining room but small kitchen but it was kind of sad looking and there was no laundry or internet. I came back to the office feeling like it would be a long two months if I had to stay there.
When we got to MRCZ we were told that several of our forms were not filled out correctly and that we would have to redo them and submit them again. It would have been really nice to hear that the day before when we were there. It was incredibly frustrating because it was a waste of ink, paper and time and I’m still not confident that they told us everything we have to do.
To take a break from modifying consent forms, we decided to do some shopping. We need a locking file cabinet to store the patient’s information so we went to an auction house (very similar to Urban Ore) and looked around. I was so shocked at how expensive things are here. A short, two drawer, used wooden file cabinet was $63! The 4 drawer metal one was $130! And neither one had a key so we’d have to get a lock smith to fix that. We thought it was too expensive so we went to a few other places and found out that the new file cabinets were $340! Then when we went to buy office supplies (a stapler, staples, paper clips, notebooks, etc) I spent $86 on things that would have cost about $40 back home. I don’t know how people afford things here.
In the late afternoon Salome and I worked on revising and printing some of the consent forms but at 5 pm we realized that it would just have to wait until the following day. When we left, the entire floor was empty because most people work from 8 am until 4:30 here (or 4 pm on Friday).
Salome was very nice and drove me to look at the other place to live that I had heard of the night before. Mr. Morales is a widower whose grown children live abroad so he is alone in his giant house. The apartment he has over his garage is being rented out but he had a wing of the house available to rent. The room is large and furnished and there’s a private bathroom and storage area. The house is one a huge lot with a lot of grass and there’s a patio in the back with a small pool. Since I negotiated the same price ($500 per month) as the crappy apartment, I decided to stay in the house. It’s more welcoming and hopefully I’ll be less lonely with other people around.
By the time I got back to the hotel I had just enough time to wash my face and put my things away before going to dinner with John. We got picked up by some other UCSF/UZ researchers and headed to the restaurant we accidently went to the night before. The place is called Victoria 22 (that’s the address) and it is super fancy. There’s a huge chandelier in the lobby and all of the waiters were dressed in suits. We were a large party (25 people) and I sat with some white Zimbabweans at the end of the table. It was amazing to hear their stories of what it was like in the country in the 70s, 80s and 90s. It has changed a lot. I’ll try to include some anecdotes later.
The meal was great and the company good so the evening flew by and before we knew it, it was 10:30. Another late night with little time to really relax.