Stream of Consciousness

A lot has happened these past few days and I’ve become happily busy. I’ve successfully convinced Sister Rose to let me access the books at the Maternity Ward, yeah! This has been a sensitive mission, as the nurses are very weary of releasing private records, understandably so. The monthly reports they submit to us are often very different from the actual daily logs they keep. In lieu of this, I had to very gingerly, convince the head nurses how important it was for me to get this information. I provided them supplies immediately upon request, a few days prior, to show my dedication and sincerity. It’s a barter mentality, I’ve got down. I’ve been bringing my computer and transferring huge books of hand written notes into Excel. I’m logging data, comparing stats, making graphs, trying to find trends and discrepancies. It’s a mess, but very rewarding work.  I’m trying to back log a year’s worth of data before I leave, an ambitious goal. My nights are getting shorter. I’m suppose to purpose an entire plan on how I want this department to run before I leave, so I better understand exactly what’s wrong before I do. I’m batting my eyelashes, working my charm and learning to be assertive in equal proportions in order to pull this off. I’m writing these blogs quickly, as by the time I get to editing photos and writing, i’m exhausted.

Power outages are very common here. The power intermittently goes out all over town. Everyone just keeps going on about their business like it ain’t no thang, and really it’s not so bad.  I’ve learned to charge everything I own while the power is on. I usually work in bed throughout the night till my laptop dies. Most people have generators as back up here, but petroleum is too expensive to justify using them, unless it’s absolutely necessary. Luckily, here at the house we keep it on so we can work. The power has been out these past few days, and the only places that will keep their generators on during the day is two hotels. So when your devices die, you’re on the hunt.

Keisha and I ran around looking for places to poach power. We ended up at Mount Elgon Hotel. Finally, I found the travelers hub I’ve been searching for.  Mt Elgon is apparently where all the Muzungus stay. It’s a sprawling hotel nestled in the fertile hills. Equipped with a spa, restaurant that serves up American esq food, pool, bar and cafe. I plugged in and starting computing my data. Hours passed as I stopped to occasionally chat with travelers from around the world. I walked around to check out the modest spa that seems so decadent here. Hour massages are around 40,00 shillings/20 US. Guess who’s getting a few spa treatments. Whew, finally! After all, I am a women who (admittingly), values balance. You can only swim upstream for so long till you, well, need a facial:) I did also manage to seek out Francis, the town’s best pedicurist, so don’t feel too bad for me. My toes look better than they ever did back home.

Mt Elgon has a bar, smoothies, and a T.V. with channels. The motif is  cozy and colorful.  Just looking at the pool made me work fiercely. Out of no where approx 20 loud white men were walking my way. A color shift I had not thought about till seeing a herd of whities. Intrigued, and a little startled from their boisterous presence, I started chatting them up. They are a Welsh crew here building homes for a few weeks. A few of the men were around fifty, most of them were very young, I’d say 16-20. All of them were drinking and smoking. This is LITERALLY the first time I’ve seen anyone smoke in nearly 3 weeks. I instantly liked them and started chatting with the man who brought the crew over. He told me about an International Market over the Kenya border that happens on Tuesdays. This is what I’ve been looking for! Its about 2 hours over the mountains. Traders come from all over and apparently even up from the Congo. This might be my one chance to buy local art and crafts, so i’ve already arranged to get half the day off and tag along with this motley crew…should make for an interesting day.

I’m gonna make it over to Kenya damn it!  My mission is to get to Hell’s Gate across the Kenyan border.  There you can go on a bicycle safari in the  game reserve which supports the largest diversity of species in Africa and homeland of the Masai tribe. I’m trying to convince the house mates to take the 2 day journey with me, but once again, I’m prepared to do it alone. Somehow going to Kenya alone feels perfect.

I went up to Wanale clinic today. Carlos and Carolina and I made it up the mountain right before the rains set in. We arrived and low and behold the head clinical officer was there. A rare sighting. Not the one Kissito hired but the one that works for the government that possesses the only key to the medical supply room. One of the main issues here is that he won’t release the key to anyone who actually shows up to work. He often won’t show up for weeks, while villagers suffer without medicine. This might have been the most heated conversation I’ve witnessed while I’ve been here. This man is surly and I can’t really get his agenda, at all. I’m glad I held my tongue while he babbled a lot of non sense about -how we will work on a solution and these things take time. I kept thinking, just give us the freaking key you idiot. I learned a lot through Carlos and Carolina. I think because of their language barrier, (they are Venezuelan), they disarmed him by repeating “we have the same goal”, and “we need to find a solution”. Seemed to be way more effective than what I wanted to say. His village people are dying because he won’t show up to release meds, nor will he pass over the keys. We will eventually stock the entire clinic, bring in staff, and take over, cause that’s what we do! Back to Excel, data, Excel, data…

Enjoy Pics-



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6 responses to “Stream of Consciousness

  1. Solar

    Amazing photos, bug! Go to Kenya, for sure. No matter what. And congrats on finding some balance!!! Always necessary. xo

  2. Jody Cox

    Mel, your photos are so amazing. The vibrant colors, the expressions, the content….thanks so much for sharing.

  3. Won’t it be a glorious day when they no longer have to depend on this quack to deliver meds? Glorious, indeed! And…..yay! I’d be very excited to find out about the market, as well. Enjoy!

  4. MamaLlama

    You have a good eye for photography Mel. The color intensity and crispness of the shots is impressive. Sounds like you are rocking it, as I knew you would. Not crazy about you going to Kenya alone, Keep looking for a companion to make the trip.

  5. awesome melanie! love keeping up with the crew there through you. now, how do we get you to stay longer…. hmmmmmmm….?????

  6. Barbara Bockner

    Hi Melanie. I love your blog! We have been to two countries in Africa (Mali and Kenya) and loved them both. What you are describing sounds so “familiar”. Life truly runs on a different power grid in lots of places. I’m so glad you have had this opportunity to help and observe. Can’t wait to hear more.

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