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The Energy Is Off

Today has been kind of a blur. Someone else even commented on how the energy here has just been kind of weird. I think we are all feeling off because we only have a couple of days left so it’s hard to know how to feel. I also didn’t run today, and I always feel a little weird when I don’t. It was 3AM when I decided not to run. That’s when I woke up for about the 10th time because my roommates were talking. It’s been hard to sleep because one roommate has been sick since the start of week 2, this same roommate also has African Tick Fever which has given her hives. In order to relieve some of the discomfort from the hives, she turns the fan on, which makes my other roommate sneeze; therefore, my room is NOT a conducive space for sleep. I was a zombie when I woke up, and I was a bit annoyed because I physically wanted to run but was too mentally tired.

The good thing about my roommate having tick fever is that I was able to switch from Holiday Club to the Homeopathy Clinic (her morning project). This ended up being my first really positive experience at clinic. In this area, the homeopathy clinic is only open the last week of each month, so there was a huge line of people outside waiting for an appointment – there was even a woman taking advantage of the line and selling snacks/fruit. I took vitals on the people in line for about 3 hours. It was nice to be outside and the nurses were nice and accommodating. For example, I didn’t feel comfortable measuring respiration (manually) and the nurse nicely said just to do what I was comfortable with. It was nice to be in an environment where the nurses were patient and knew how to smile. I just asked our volunteer coordinator and apparently this clinic is run by private doctors who have clinics in their hometowns and come to Khula Village as volunteers. Patients pay a really small fee (like R5 – which $1 is ~R14.5) and are seen by Afrikaans doctors. Very interesting to me.

When I got home, I slept straight through lunch. I was so tired. Afternoon session was a clinic session, so we talked to patients about heart burn and indigestion. Honestly, I didn’t/still don’t know much about the topic. Afterwards, a patient asked our names, where we were from, and what our jobs were. I said I was in school to be a doctor and then he started asking questions about constipation and how to prevent it and also about alcohol and why it’s bad and how much he should drink in one month. My mind was running around trying to figure out how to answer them because everyone was looking at me (there was only me, another volunteer who is a linguistics major, and the translator). I was like no, please stop! At the end of each sentence, I tried to throw in “…but you should probably go to the clinic to know more.” He seemed satisfied, thankfully. We finished by sorting patient files which was honestly all my mind could handle at the time; I was so out of it.

Now I’m feeling a lot better, mentally, though. I think the nap helped and I don’t feel so weird about missing my run this morning. I facetime called my mom for about 10 minutes – jealous my family is going to my grandma’s today – then watched Lilo and Stich while doing rehab and sitting on a lacrosse ball to loosen up my hips. Dinna time now. I guess I’d say overall a pretty solid – if not very bizarre feeling – day.

Posted by kfkeane 09:02 Archived in South Africa Tagged family sleep run sick information volunteer session clinic bite tick homeopathy pulse vitals afrikaan respiration Comments (0)

Week 3 - Check!

sunny 80 °F

Today I decided to take a morning off running and stationary bike instead. My legs were feeling a bit sore and banged up, so I thought ‘why not?’. At the morning meeting during breakfast, I learned my roommates and I would be having another visitor in our room for our last week…none of us were too happy – quite the opposite. It just seems weird to have a 47-year-old woman move in with a group of college students. Now we have 7 girls sharing one shower, so fingers crossed everything works out.

My first project today was my favorite: gardening! Yay! We built an entire garden, and then started raking dirt and picking up stones :D It sounds silly and looked silly, but the yard actually looked better when we had finished. Something funny was that we found like 10 marijuana plants on the property. I'd never seen one before. When we had finished, we took our gardening tools and a sugar cane (they grow everywhere so people are always eating them) and walked about 30 minutes to the highway to wait for the bus. It was really cool to walk through the villages because normally we are in the bus and only get out once we are at our project location. Across the street from where we were waiting for the bus was someone selling hand carved wooden bowls. They were gorgeous and I decided to buy one as a souvenir – of course I bartered for it! Ironically, the man I bought it from said he had remembered our project group from a clinic session we had previously given on vaginal thrush. I’m sure the topic is burned in his memory, as there were some graphic images included.

At lunch, I picked up what I hope was my last load of laundry while here. I think if worse comes to worst I will just hand wash anything else I may need. Afternoon project was Reading Club, which I honestly wasn’t too thrilled about because the projects that include children really drain me. Honestly, it was really fun, though – maybe that’s because only three girls came who were middle schoolers. When they came, they picked out some books and read out loud to us. Then they had some cookies and juice and left. It’s their holiday right now, so I feel like Reading Club is busier when school is in session. At this location, there is this HUGE storage tank just full of books. Unfortunately, the roof had rusted through and all of the books had been damaged by the rain. It was traumatizing to see such good books damp and mildewey. It reminded me of something that had happened to my family’s children’s books back home. Opening the trailer, a stench just hit us. We spent a lot of Reading Club taking out books and leaving them in the sun to dry.

Honestly, that was about all to my day. I got home and decided to run to the beach and back right before sunset (which was at 5:00PM since it’s the shortest day of the year today), ate dinner, and now am doing sudoku while Selma plays in the background. Tomorrow we go to our overnight safari and then only one week left!!

Posted by kfkeane 11:57 Archived in South Africa Tagged sunset home beach walk garden books safari run bike read volunteer movie souvenir sudoku Comments (0)

Give It Time

sunny 75 °F

I’m a little surprised by myself. I keep waking up so tired and feeling unmotivated, but I stay dedicated and run each morning. I enjoy running so much and I am always grateful when I do it, but it’s so hard to get excited and pumped to run early in the morning. Most days, I think of my mom and how she works all day but continues to wake up every day at about 5 AM to do her runs. She motivates me to run the most out of anything, especially since she is running her first ½ marathon this weekend. She has no idea how proud I am of her. It’s making me so sad to not be there and I think of her accomplishments every day.

So something I’ve been talking about in my blogs a little bit is how I don’t feel welcomed in the community. Today, my perspective changed a little. I was walking around before dinner and realized that less people were staring at me and more were saying hello to me. I’ve noticed people are really happy when I greet them in Zulu. While walking, I decided that because I’m always out running/walking through town, people see me and recognize me (I stand out like a sore thumb with my hair/skin color) and have noticed I’m not just here for a week, but more permanent. As reinforcement of this point, I was almost home, and a security guard at the Lodge next door waved and stood up to talk to me more. He said he sees me running every morning and can tell I have an energy and love of running. I learned his name is Talent and that he lives in the nearby village Khula. I told him a little about myself and said I’d see him tomorrow! I left that conversation with renewed energy, just so happy.

Honestly, the biggest thing I think I’m learning from this trip is patience. Everything takes time. It took me about 2 weeks to stop feeling homesick and it took until almost the end of week 3 to feel welcomed in the community. It’s all just an adjustment.

Something I don’t think I’ll ever become accustomed to, though, is the germs that children carry!! This morning I was working at Holiday Club (basically day care). Here is just one example. A kid had come up to me wanting to hold hands and jump on me. I let him, of course. Then, five minutes later, I see him peeing in the grass and then fondling his junk for about 3 minutes. I’m still horrified. Needless to say, I disinfected up to my shoulders when I got home, because you know if one child is doing it, they all are.

The afternoon was chill, though. I had gardening, my absolute favorite! All we did was water the community garden we had helped plant the first week. The plants are really growing quickly! Then we sat on a hill and chilled and talked while waiting for the bus. Dinner was great; I had beef (yay red meat!), and now we are just getting ready for karaoke night. Still not sure how to feel about it. I could totally go for just eating and playing sudoku while a movie plays in the background, but I’m sure this will be interesting too.

Update: Sang Hips Don't Lie and A Whole New World

Posted by kfkeane 11:01 Archived in South Africa Tagged food water friend garden dinner run time karaoke beef volunteer zulu patience adjustment germs Comments (2)

Monkey See, Monkey Do

sunny 80 °F

Good Moooooorning San Francisco!! I thought of that on my walk this afternoon. I feel like I’m doing a daily broadcast with my blogs – love it! So this morning I ran again. I’m always anxious to run after a day off. It was actually kind of chilly – like I could see my breath! Something I realized while warming up for my run, though, was that I have a serious monkey/copy-cat. The girl I go running with follows me everywhere and does everything I do. I’m a very independent person who values her alone time, so this really bothers me. For example, before she met me, she said she ran at most 3x/week for about 2 miles; now she runs 6 days/week for about 4 miles. Also, she used to just hop out of bed and run, but now she has to do the exact. same. warmup exercises that I do. This morning, I also looked over and she was doing my ankle rehab exercises and I’m not sure she knows why she is doing any of the exercises in the first place except for that it’s what I’m doing. She also asks to go on walks with me after dinner because she knows I like to go for walks and go to the gym to stretch. There are some benefits, though. She made me a dinner without garlic and onions last weekend and made the layout for my journal calendar, so I didn’t even have to be creative; I just copied her design. I feel slightly guilty, but I get annoyed by having a shadow. I know she only has good intentions, though, which keeps me from saying anything.

Project-wise, in the morning I was at Holiday Club, which is basically day-care. We did about 45 minutes of songs, crafts, free play, and snack time. I later wrote some postcards to friends and family. After my run, I had spoken to the volunteer coordinator about the food continuing to have onions/garlic in it, so at lunch I was met with the beautiful surprise of *plain* chicken!!! It was so nice to eat a meal and know it was safe to eat. In the afternoon, I had gardening, which is my favorite project. I helped turn the dirt and then watered the plants after they were in the dirt. We created an entire garden from scratch for a family. My opinions about this volunteer organization’s work are starting to transform. I feel like this kind of work is actually beneficial; imagine how many gardens we could build for families in one year. This one garden took us less than 2 hours! I still have my doubts about some of the health-care volunteer work, but I think the garden work is really beneficial! Counting down the days to leave still. Twelve left after today.

Posted by kfkeane 11:14 Archived in South Africa Tagged food monkey garden family run weather chicken volunteer preschool copy gym countdown count_down Comments (3)

Welcome or Not

sunny 76 °F

Today was a pretty lazy day. Even when I got up, I felt too tired and lazy to work out. I decided to write some thank you notes to the people who wrote my recommendation letter for medical school and FaceTime my parents. I also did a little grocery shopping and searched for souvenirs. I'm doing price comparisons between different shops to get the best price.

After talking with my parents, who are always the go-getters and can spend all day working outside and still have energy to exercise, I felt motivated to do a little something myself. One of the guys said he'd run with me as well. I'm glad I did it, but I definitely ran a little to close to eating. There is one other thing I noticed during the run. I realized that something that's been making me a bit uncomfortable during my stay here is that I don't feel welcomed in the community. Apparently it's a holiday weekend here, so everyone is out and about partying and drinking. I passed a lot of people on my runs, and 9/10 times they stare at me. I try to wave, but today I would say 0/14 people I waved at, waved back at me. So these people are staring at me, but not in a nice way. Then, 2x when I was out today, people started running beside me, laughing and mocking -- one was even a grown man. It makes me so uncomfortable, especially when they are laughing and talking to me in a language I don't understand. It honestly feels like I'm a zoo animal running through town. I can't be sure, but I'd have to say this is what it feels like to be a minority in a town...and it's not fun. You never feel at home and your guard is constantly up. It's very tiring.

Something else that is also taking some getting used to is the showers here!! It feels like they run the water through blast chiller before it comes out of the spigot! I thought I may have an asthma attack when I first put my body under the spray. The rest of the day was really great though. We had dinner, a housemate made dairy-free banana muffins, and I relaxed with some snacking, sudoku, and a movie (Avatar today!). Third week starts tomorrow ???? Happy Monday everyone!

Posted by kfkeane 11:37 Archived in USA Tagged zoo welcome run animal shower banana cold movie sunday exercise lazy mocking muffin Comments (2)

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