Monday, July 14, 2008

Hospital on the Mountain

This is as high as I'll make it up Mt. Kilimanjaro on this trip to Tanzania. Zev and I arrived at Kibosho hospital on Saturday morning. The trip only took a few hours, less than I had expected. We dropped off 4 EWH students at Kilimanjaro Christian Medical Center (KCMC), a huge Lutheran hospital complex at the edge of Moshi. We soon left the paved tarmac and bounced up the mountain side. The weather was noticeably colder, as was the reception: the people at Kibosho didn't realize that we were to arrive that day, and they weren't quite sure what to do with us. We found Wilbard, the technician we're supposed to stay with. He didn't have a room ready for us yet, so he took us to meet the head nurse to see what she had in mind. She welcomed us warmly, then informed us that there would be a $USD50 "registration fee" that she had "forgotten" to tell the EWH organizers about. We called Michelle Garst (the on-site trip organizer) to tell her about the situation. She didn't sound the least bit surprised. Apparently, this is par for the course around here. TIA.

They found us a room in a dormitory that is currently empty, but will next week be full of nursing students. It's a concrete structure with high ceilings that feels very European, not least because the only decoration is German movie posters (though mostly for American films). The acoustics are nice and echo-y, so I spend a lot of time playing my guitar and enjoying the reverb.

Yesterday Zev and I took a daladala down the mountain to Moshi. It's a good 20 minute trek down the steep mountain side to reach the actual village of Kibosho, then an hour-long ride in the van, packed as usual with ~25 passengers. The ride was slow at first; the driver didn't even turn on the engine, preferring to roll down the bumpy dirt road. Gas here is more than $USD6/gallon, so it seems like a good way to save money. However, when a competing daladala started to gain on us from behind, the driver turned on the engine and began hurtling down the road as fast as we could go. It became a race to pick up as many customers as we could before the competition could pass us and start stealing fares. The passengers sensed the urgency and were quick to load, I suspect because they knew if they got stuck on the daladala behind us that wasn't getting any fares, they might end up sitting somewhere for a while, waiting for new customers to show up. That's the nature of public transport around here: full cars go fast, empty cars wait until they're full. And full means really full. You won't even start moving until you've got at least 22 people in the van.

Moshi is nice, a bit less hectic than Arusha. The touts are just as aggressive, but there's more room to breath, and the tourist district is smaller. I'm back in Moshi again today, writing at an internet cafe. I haven't tried the interent at the hospital yet, but Joanna (the EWH student who worked at Kibosho last year) said it's the slowest she's ever seen in her life. This morning we met the staff and then came down the mountain to bring a broken sterilizer back to the shop where it was repaired. The shop turns out to be where Joanna worked all this last year after her initial EWH stint at Kibosho. It's a small shop on the grounds of a Lutheran radio station. Wilbard says it services hospital equipment from 4 states: Tanga (on the east coast), Kilimanjaro, Arusha, and Manyara. I'm told they are never lacking things to fix.

We're back up the mountain now. I don't know if we'll get around to fixing anything today, but that's alright. The more important task is to get to know the staff and the grounds, get a feel for how things work in our new home, and start making plans accordingly. Hamna shida (No problems).


Peter said...

too bad you dont get to get farther up the mountain. You got me beat. I like your travle tips. Take care dude

pray for a restless faith said...

i love how time goes by days rather then min. or sec. "i don't think will fix anything today" classic.
miss you