On Friday, I met Salome in the office then we headed to Mbare to enroll our final patient for the week. Mbare is one of the closest clinics to the office so the drive time was short but we had to wait for the patient to arrive so the overall amount of time was no less. Everything went smoothly once he arrived though, and after dropping the samples off at the lab, we headed back to the office.
Fridays are a bit tough for me because by then I’ve spent a bit too much time with just Salome and I grow weary of her talking. To avoid saying something that I didn’t mean, I set off by myself at lunch time to go in search of a 60 mL syringe to clean some plastic tubing on our nebulizer. Salome showed me the area where some veterinary supply stories were and was shocked that I would walk all that way (about 20 min) but I firm and I left her to drop off a letter at the public health department in town.
The walk was a great chance to get a bit of fresh air and I had no trouble finding the syringe that I needed. On my way back I stopped that the Zimbabwe tourism authority and got some information about Victoria Falls. It was a great outing and a good time alone.
The rest of the afternoon passed away slowly. I had spent so much of the week developing this database that I was no inspired to stare at my computer screen anymore so I puttered around until 4 pm when everyone goes home.
I walked home again to attempt to find some good bananas but was not successful. I made it home just in time though because about 10 minutes after I walked in the door it started raining. Then the wind came up with thunder and lightning and it stormed for the rest of the evening. I had thought of calling Jake to go out, but it was raining so hard that the thought of leaving the house was not appealing. I had leftover Thanksgiving dinner and spent a nice evening snug inside with my Kindle.
Just another note on a few things I keep forgetting to mention: there’s a seatbelt law in Zimbabwe, but it only applies to people in the front seat. And no babies can sit in the front. However, pretty much no one has child safety seats for their cars. Babies and young children are just held in laps in the back. Car seats are a status symbol for rich people.
There are a lot of pregnant women here and a lot of young children. 40% of the country is under 15 years old and it shows on the streets. Salome told me that women usually get married by their early 20s unless they are well educated and they are expected to get pregnant immediately after the wedding. If a woman has been married for a year without having a child, her husband’s family (mothers and aunts) will start to call her barren!
Most marriages here are informal arrangements that families and friends understand and respect but don’t have a marriage license. A formal marriage is quite expensive with the license, church, guests, etc and most people can’t afford it. Zim is mostly Christian so there not much polygamy, but there is quite a bit of divorce. Households are quite different than in the US: there’s no such thing as the nuclear family here, or at least it’s pretty unusual. Young people will live with their parents until they get married and even after that, there’s often a brother, sister, cousin or parent staying with them as well. Sometimes when we are trying to identify all of the household contacts to screen them for TB it is quite difficult to work out how everyone is related.