Monday, May 21, 2012

Hot Break

Again, I apologize for my long silence. I think I need to stop apologizing and just write more. I do not have much to say right now in the way of fistula or Danja or work because I have been away from Niger for the last month. We closed the hospital mid April due to the intense heat and I have been on holiday since. It was not until I got away that I realized how much I needed a break.

When I left, Ashley, the Browns and another couple from far east Niger went to Park W to see the animals. It was a twelve-hour drive from Danja to Niamey, then another two to the park. Who knew there was a place to see wild game in Niger?! It was great though. We hired a guide when we got there then climbed on top of our land rover and set off into the park. We stopped close to the entrance where there was a look out and we had lunch. The lookout was right by a river and because of the heat, this is where the animals come. We had lunch with a large herd of elephants, two crocodiles, some baboons which we watched move through our territory, a few warthogs, and some birds and deer. It was a great start to our three day trip. We drove all through the park and saw many more types of deer, buffalo and birds, but unless we were at a water source there were no big game to be seen. To get to where we would stay the night we had to catch a boat to take us to a small island. Ashley and I shared an adorable cabin sitting high up on some rocks surrounded by baobab trees. I could not have asked for a more relaxing place in Niger. It was right on the river and we watched elephants across the river as we played rummikub to the sound of frogs at night. Our plan was to stay there three days and explore. The second day we decided to just stay on the island and rest. Our guide took us on a walk through the island and we could see the damage made by the elephants to the trees as we walked. When we hit the other side of the island we watched as a few elephants were making their way across the river to our side. We climbed up onto some high rocks and followed them as they made their way through the trees and back into the river where they used their trunks as snorkels to swim back to the other side. The rest of the day we napped and read and played rummikub. I also learned that a great way to keep cool is if you get your wrap wet, lay it over you with a fan blowing directly onto you and it feels like air conditioning. I wish I would have known this earlier! Our final day in the park we drove around on top of the vehicle again and saw a few more deer before heading back to Niamey.

Baobab tree fruit

 Our cabin


A man and his loom

A monkey in the zoo

(I don't have pictures of the rest of my time on my computer yet)

From Niamey I hopped on a plane to Togo. I spent about three weeks in Lome with friends who are still working on board the Africa Mercy. My first four days there I spent at Lake Togo with a friend and we swam, played scrabble, ate shrimps, watched football and talked. It was more than I could have asked for. It hit me right off how much I missed this. Being able to sit with someone who knows you and will just listen to you ramble and whatever you say or do is fine. You can sit in silence and there is no stress. It was a breath of fresh air.

From Lake Togo I boarded the Africa Mercy for ten days. I still have many friends who are working for Mercy Ships and I was invited on as a guest. It was a blessing to be somewhere with a hot shower and Dr Pepper and friends. I felt like God had set up my time being there. I was able to reunite with some great friends from years ago who just happened to be on board at the same time. Many of my friends are leaving when the ship leaves Togo next month so this may be the last time I see them for a long time. It’s funny though because I never thought I would get to see them right now either. You never know how or when you will be reunited with old friends.

When I left the ship, my Irish friend Jane and I spent a week on the beach. This entailed more shrimps and much more scrabble. Lots of time to think and hunt for shells and just sit and watch the waves. One afternoon I was watching the water when it hit me, Danja is so quiet. I grew up on the water and love the ocean. I love watching the waves come in and listen to the sound of the water. Niger is so quiet. Cars and kids and the occasional donkey, but it’s so quiet. Good or bad? Neither. Just an observation.

It was a very relaxing few weeks break before we re-open the hospital again June 1st. Lots to do before then as we are starting fresh in a way because we are hiring new staff and will have to retrain. I look forward to it and I can’t wait to have the hospital up and running full time! Again, these are all birthing pains!