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Rained out

Posted by on November 3, 2011

The MDR-TB clinic was this morning and since Wilkin’s hospital is just down the road from me, I was able to walk there this morning. It was a lovely morning to be out: the sun was shining and the air was cool from the storm the night before. The doctors were late to the clinic so we waited for an hour before it actually started. I heard a lot of interesting TB stories but we didn’t enroll any patients; maybe next time.

The afternoon was spent getting the last of the supplies and copying forms and sending e-mails. I wanted to get out early and go to the quarry outside of town where the Zimbabwe Mountain Club meets to climb on Wednesday afternoons, but we didn’t finish work until nearly 5 pm and it looked like it was going to rain. I called a few mountain club members and was advised not to try to make the trip since they would likely be leaving before I arrived. That was quite a bummer because I’d really like to meet some people to hang out with and I’d love to see something outside of the city center even if it is a quarry, but it was not meant to be. Perhaps next week the weather will be nicer.

Instead of heading to the east side of town where the quarry is, I had a taxi driver just take me home and just 5 minutes into the ride I was really grateful for my decision. It started pouring down rain and got extremely dark very quickly.

I guess everyone was trying to beat the rain home because traffic getting out of the city was terrible! It took 15 minutes to travel one block! Everyone was disregarding the traffic lights (called robots here) and the whole place was a clusterfuck. It was ridiculous. A trip that should have taken 15 minutes took nearly 45 due to the traffic and the rain.

I should mention a bit about driving here. I haven’t actually driven anywhere myself, but in general it’s a bit hectic. The driver side is on the right so everything is opposite from the US. The driving is more aggressive than in most US cities and Cape Town, although less than in Nairobi. It’s standard for three cars to run a red light (if the light is working) and for cars to make a two lane road into a four lane road. And pedestrians do NOT have the right away. If you think the car will stop while you cross the street, even if you’re in a crosswalk, you will probably be hit. I’m still a bit unnerved crossing the street and I look both ways several times during the process. Walking here can be like taking your life into your own hands.

It’s very expensive to get a driver’s license here so most people don’t drive. It’s also extremely expensive to own a car (gas [or petrol] is more than $5 a gallon) and if you import a car from another country (which you pretty much have to do since none are made here), the duty can be 60-100% the value of the car! Thus, most people take the combis (the buses) or they walk.

Zim has two official languages: English and Shona. Shona is a bit like Swahili, but there are not enough words in common to be fluent in both very easily. I think every word in Shona ends in a vowel, especially “a” and “e”. The language is very phonetic which makes it easy to pronounce but conjugating verbs is more complicated than English. I’m trying to learn a few words and phrases but I’ve been so busy lately that it’s been hard. Also, everyone speaks English and they (rightly) assume that since I’m white I don’t speak Shona so there’s not a lot of incentive to learn.

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