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The Final Countdown

sunny 73 °F

Since the safari, nothing has seemed that exciting. It’s the last week of projects, and I’m ready to leave. Although I feel sad when I think about leaving, I think it’s just a natural part of saying goodbye – especially since I’ve been here for almost a month, which is a pretty long period of time. Those feelings are already fading, though. I find myself half-present during projects. Like I’m there, but my mind is wandering. I keep thinking about going home on weekends to cuddle with my pups, eat grilled food from my dad, and go for family boat rides (I’m also really looking forward to running on terrain that isn’t only hills and hopefully sometime after 6:00AM).

So this final week of project, I was a little disappointed because I have Holiday Club (similar to daycare) twice: Monday and Wednesday. I definitely left Holiday Club on Monday with snot on my shirt and saliva on my arms/hands. I also held hands with children who had their hands touching private parts. I tried to trade my Wednesday Holiday Club session with someone else, even going as far as offering to buy a milkshake if they did so, but no one would trade me. It’s just not a hot commodity. Yesterday afternoon we also had planning, where I was in charge of planning the clinic information sessions for the week. I happened to learn a lot about sinus infections, gout, and HIV during/after pregnancy. Actually it was very interesting.

Today, I had a morning session of home-based care, which is basically where we go to people’s houses and take their blood pressure, clean wounds, provide clinic transfers, and give painkillers/laxatives/multivitamins. I had some good and bad takeaways. Bad: once again it didn’t seem like we did much. For example, we went to a man whose hands were shaking badly and he had reddish urine and was constipated. We took his blood pressure and gave him laxatives (which later his grandson came out and showed us an entire bag of unused laxatives he already had). The translator/woman from the village who examines the patients thought he had something wrong with his kidney, but what we did didn’t seem very helpful. The good part, though, was actually really cool! I loved travelling throughout the village and having these intimate appointments with the patients. The patients were all smiling and so talkative, which is polar opposite from the feelings/observations I had in the clinic. The whole atmosphere was different when the patient was seen within the home. This is something I would be interested in the future; perhaps I could be a doctor in a rural town who does home visits. It would be more personal, and I could build stronger relationships with the patients.

Well, I’m going to start getting ready for bed, but I’m still thinking about souvenirs for people. I have a couple of non-food items (I need more but I’m still not exactly sure what people want) and some food items (also need more because you can never have too many). I realized that since I haven’t gone out to eat at all, I have a lot of money for souvenirs, so it’s time for a shopping spree. Treated myself to a 1 Liter bottle of Coca-Cola for tonight with my extra money (oh wait, hahah just remembered I forgot to bring my money so someone else payed for it) and played a little Balderdash (kind of fun) but I think a game everyone should try is 30 seconds! So fun!! 5 days left. Single-digits baby!

Posted by kfkeane 12:06 Archived in South Africa Tagged children home travel village fun morning games money volunteer zulu pregnancy doctor program hiv infection kidney gout balderdash Comments (2)

Wait, I'm here!

79 °F
View Ann Arbor, MI -> Toronto, Canada on kfkeane's travel map.

I'm here!!! My favorite part of the trip thus far has been the drive from the airport to St. Lucia. The driver played some really cool African music and the scenery was gorgeous. Also, I FINALLY SLEPT!!!!! After staying at the airport for 8 hours, almost falling asleep while playing cards, then falling asleep while sitting up after playing cards, I got 2 hours of straight sleep in the car.

St. Lucia, at least the downtown where our volunteer house is, is actually really small. It makes my hometown seem big and booming, which is pretty hard to do. We got here around 5 then had an hour to unpack and shower before dinner. Even though the shower had no hot water, only one, pin-sized stream of water with the power of a firehose, and kept shutting off then turning back on, it felt amazing to be clean for the first time since Sunday morning (it's Tuesday evening for reference). We then went to dinner, where I had my first home-cooked meal since being home at the beginning of May! So I'm basically in heaven. The food was even specially made to fit my dietary restrictions. It as a chicken and veggie stew and tasted sooooo good. I missed meat so much. I regret not taking a picture to post. I wanted to thank the chef it was so good.

After dinner, we walked around town, which is one road that is about a 1/2 mile long. There were a couple bars, sushi places, and shops for tourists to buy souvenirs. Another group saw a hippo, which I unfortunately missed, but I did see a monkey digging through the trash. It was so cute, but our host said they are evil :D I don't believe it hehe. We then just sat around and chatted/snacked. We also learned our host makes stuffed elephants and hippos, so we all ordered one from her! Now I'm off to bed, though. I will get up at 5:30 tomorrow to run. Unfortunately it's winter here, so my window to run is very short because I have to do it when it's light out in order to be safe from hippos and leopards. This window is getting smaller and smaller when I'm here. Currently it's from about 6:30 AM to 5PM but we work from 8-4:30...so not much time. It'll all work out though. It always does. I have a good feeling about this trip. Tomorrow we have orientation to learn about the projects we will be working on, so stay tuned.

Posted by kfkeane 11:58 Archived in South Africa Tagged food local travel monkey sleep run explore hippo south_africa exercise arrived Comments (3)

Travel Day 2

View Ann Arbor, MI -> Toronto, Canada on kfkeane's travel map.

Landed in London and you know my first stop was the Harry Potter shop! Had some time to clean up before the next leg of the trip: brushed and flossed my teeth (shout-out to you mom), washed my face, took my vitamins, and changed my clothes. The plane ride from Toronto to London was long, about 7.5 hours, but was just a warm-up for the flight between London and Durban, which is 11.5 hours.

I’m writing this post mid-flight to Durban, South Africa. We took off an hour and a half later than scheduled, but I ended up talking with the woman sitting next to me the whole time we waited. She lives in Durban, South Africa and actually invited me to visit her house while I’m in South Africa. We bonded through running; she coaches athletics to children. I love how running connects people.

While we were talking, she recommended I watch Bohemian Rhapsody, so that’s what I did. Freddie Mercury reminds me a lot of Prince. The movie was lifechanging, just seeing the impact the band had on music and the fight against HIV/AIDS – which is pretty cool to see, as learning about and teaching preventative measures against this epidemic is the purpose of my trip. Watching the movie I had one of those moments where you’re like “woah, it’s fate that I watched this.”

I actually took a break midway through the movie though because the airplane dinner was served. Finding food to eat has been difficult with my allergies. I could really go for some plain, grilled meat right now. I’ve only been able to eat the bread rolls they serve and granola bars I packed. I think it’ll be easier to find food I can eat once we land. Apart from a good meal, once we land I’m looking forward to a run, shower, and good long snooze.

Being out of my natural environment is making me uncomfortable, but I’m not second guessing this adventure at all. This summer, I’ve realized that I do everything with intention and only if one of the byproducts is joy. I even miss doing rehab, which I never thought I’d say. To be honest, I’m missing everything right now. I can’t sleep (which, being on an airplane makes you realize that some people are like bats. I swear they could be standing straight up in the middle of the day and still get a good sleep) so I’m listening to music and reminiscing on my final nights in Ann Arbor. I spent my last two nights home with my closest friends and even made some new friends. If anything, this trip has made me aware of how blessed and amazing my life is.

Well, back to my love cave. This is what I call the cocoon I made for myself. If you’d like to make your own love cave at home you’ll need a blanket/sweatshirt to throw over your head like a death eater) and a neck pillow. Wala! Add music and you’ve personalized that lil love cave of yours.

Update: Landed at 6am local time

Posted by kfkeane 00:07 Archived in South Africa Tagged food travel flight sunrise friends plane volunteer south_africa tired exhausted bohemian_rhapsody Comments (1)

Goodbye and Hello

View Ann Arbor, MI -> Toronto, Canada on kfkeane's travel map.

It's kind of crazy how quickly life changes. One moment I was in the training room in Ann Arbor doing rehab and here I am now in Toronto, Canada getting ready to fly to London. The fact that life changes so quickly is thrilling. One year ago, there is no way I'd have said that in a year I'd be flying to South Africa for one month. It makes me excited to think I have no clue where I'll be next year...even next week!

The thing is, not every moment is going to be easy. I'm currently feeling pretty alone, and it's scary. I tried facetiming my parents, but the wifi in the airport isn't working, so I'm stranded. Thought I'd listen to music and walk around to pass the time, but I realized I only downloaded three songs. This actually makes me laugh because the three songs I downloaded are "If I Can't Have You" by Shawn Mendes, "Beautiful Girls" by Sean Kingston, and "Island In the Sun" by Weezer. Some jammas! In London I'll try to expand my repertoire assuming wifi works. So pro-tip: download music *before* leaving for a trip. I'm so excited to be in London! It's crazy!!!
I really don't travel that much, but today I feel like I've gone around the world. My dad picked me up in Ann Arbor (I'm so thankful to have started this journey with him), and we drove across Ambassador Bridge. Once in Canada we visited London, Paris, Woodstock, and right before reaching the airport (where I'll actually be going to London, we ate sushi (so basically went to Japan, too). On our car trip, the song "Africa" by Toto came on and my dad was like, "Hey, it's your theme song" :). That made me smile. I swear I'm going to live and survive through music on this trip; it understands me, especially when I'm feeling so alone.

Tangent time -- Canada is SO much more different from the United States than I expected...and I think I like it *insert thinking face emoji*. So to start, they have windmill farms everywhere! I really like that. On a similar note, they have recycling bins next to every trash bin - even along the freeway at the rest stops. I'm so impressed with Canada's sustainability initiatives. They also have reasonable portion sizes. Snacks are not in share size (thank god because I'm sick of eating for two) and the drinks are smaller as well (ok, not gonna lie - for me with drinks, it's "the more the merrier").

Well, time for me to board! Next stop: London!!

Posted by kfkeane 19:41 Archived in Canada Tagged london travel adventure music canada airplane fear aircanada nerves Comments (4)

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