Thursday, October 15, 2009

A Week in Review.....

Bush crabs (still alive and squirming) sold at roadside market.
Bus driver stops abruptly, reverses and purchases feast for dinner
while transporting riders, then continues on with live crabs on-board.
Never a dull bus ride in Vanuatu.

well halo out there.... have been getting some hints that it's been awhile since i've posted.
there are a few good reasons for that...... and today is my day of doing all things computer, including some writing about the adventures here in Vanuatu. where to begin.....

For one, the Vila Central Maternity Ward has been quite slow. We've crossed the half-way point of the month, which generally would mean that an average of 100 babies had been born in any given month. This month, we're still in the low 70's, so although we've been spending time in the hospital, it hasn't involved many births. Instead we've been filling our time with chatting with the New Zealand midwives, continually amazing each other with what our standard of care is, or isn't, and laughing about the differences in pronunciation of words, both common and medical. Although we all speak English, lets be real..... sometimes we are not speaking the same language! Some is a matter of accent, some is just a complete difference in choice of words for describing something. For example.... Elias and I say vaginal like this.... vag-in-al, like most of you probably do, too. Everyone else here in the southern hemi says vagina-l. so everytime we refer to a vaginal exam or a vaginal birth or a vaginal suppository..... it's just a little different and there is a brief moment of each of us looking at each other in awe before moving on in the conversation. wish i could insert some sort of tool that would allow me to play some blips for you..... i bet elias would know how to do that! Another word that made me roar in laughter came up during a conversation about chocolate. Apparently Cadbury is one of the bigger chocolate companies in New Zealand. I asked what about dark chocolate and I heard, oh, yes, "Nizzle" makes that. I'm thinking, hmmmmm, I'm going to NZ in a few weeks, I'll look for Nizzle chocolate, that sounds good. But upon asking for the spelling I quickly realized the reference was to NESTLE chocolate! Endless laughs about that one.....

Secondly, the weather this past week was far closer to that of Seattle than the tropics. we had 5 days of gray skies and rain..... some pouring rain. so the day of snorkeling and the day of sailing that we had planned were both canceled, replaced by days ofdrinking coffee and watching movies and reading books. Am i in Seattle, i wondered a few times? But one quick assessment of the coconut trees and smell of burning brush reminded me that, no, this is nothing like Seattle.

we did have a family BBQ here at our place before a couple of the baby docs headed north to the island of Santo for some diving and adventures away from Vila. Luckily we had a few experienced Aussie BBQers since that is really not my specialty, I'm the first to admit it. I excelled nearby, however, as I maintained my reign as table tennis champion! Who knew that those endless weeks of table tennis during my freshman high school PE class (and i do mean endless weeks....) would be of any benefit in my life. Yes, we all have our strengths that we bring to the table..... or the grill.... We feasted on steaks and grilled sweet potatoes and salad, and Elias and I experienced our first taste of Tam Tams, an apparent Australian delicacy- essentially tasty chocolate covered wafers, for dessert. It's a curious thing the grills down here..... 2/3 of the grill is regular grill. The other 1/3 is a grill pan of sorts that you can grill veggies, onions, mushrooms, etc. on so they don't fall through into the flames. That's my kind of grillin, whereas in the States you have to purchase a separate "veggie basket" and it's this whole separate ordeal, at least at all the BBQs I've been to. Emma, you'll have to encourage Sean to import his next grill from the South Pacific, preferably before next summer.

Other news.... I finished my scuba course, culminating with 2 dives last Saturday morning. The first was near the same place I'd done the prior 2, although once down under I wouldn't have been able to tell- there's always new things to see. The last one, however, was the Cathedral, a rock cavern under the sea. WOW. First of all, this was a surprise because I was still finishing my course so I didn't think I would be doing it until until after I finished, but there were several other experienced divers doing it and apparently the tide was just right. My instructor and I descended to the bottom and we did our safety tests, where he filled my mask with water and I cleared it, and then he made me take my mask off and put if back on, take out my regulator under water..... all those sorts of things to be sure I could deal with any of those situations if they arose. Then he pointed towards the entrance to the Cathedral and shrugged his shoulders as if to ask, wanna do it? I think even through my mask and with the reg in my mouth, my face shouted yes! yes! So in we swam.... essentially into a cave of sorts. High above us I saw some light shining in and as we swam we slowly ascended towards the light and eventually popped up into a shallow pool that was actually inland. We surfaced and looked out to the ocean, breathing the sea air once again. Then we dove back down through the cavern, all the while swimming backwards to watch the light rays get smaller and smaller as we descended down and out of the cavern and beyond into the deep blue abyss. That was my deepest dive, to a full 28 metres. It was pretty exhilarating and as to be expected, my oxygen depleted much quicker. A fabulous way to complete my course. Wish I could have taken some photos down there.

Snorkeling off Hideaway Island

Yesterday we headed out to Hideaway Island, well known for great snorkeling. It was beautiful and a great way to spend a hot, sunny day here in Vanuatu. Snorkeling galore, for hours and hours...... which unfortunately left me with a snorkeler's sunburn, that is, backside only. A quick reminder that water-resistant sunscreen is not even close to waterproof sunscreen. Badger sunscreen, #1 rated on the Environmental Working Group's site for safety and efficacy, really stinks for water sports. Just FYI for those heading to their next tropical destination, I wouldn't rely on it. Anyway, I'll be purchasing myself a rashie (fancy name for swimming shirt) so I won't have to slather my bod in sunscreen and can snorkel to my heart's content. Emma, I think that's what you were telling me about with your Australian friend..... many people wear these rashies while diving and snorkeling and swimming. It just makes sense to do so here as the sun can be brutal :)

on the road back to Vila from Hideaway

now i'm heading into the hospital for a late afternoon, evening shift..... fingers crossed for some babies! i know that we are inducing a women who is only 29 weeks or so today because her water broke close to a week ago. i'm nervous for the outcome of that since we don't have a NICU (neonatal intensive care unit) here and the preemie that Elias caught a couple weeks ago has not being doing so well, and he was several weeks older than this unborn babe. we'll see what happens. we've had a string of Cesars this week, as well. 2 inductions ended in Cesars after fetal tachycardia (heart beating too fast) for one, and decelerations (really low heart beat) for the other. the Cesar that i observed involved the use of forceps to get the babe out from the incision.....that coupled with many many pokes to place the epidural, plus a lot of pushing and pulling on the belly and baby to get her out made it pretty trying for me..... oh the hot, stagnant operating theatre and my vasovagal friend that sometimes lurks beneath the surface to remind me that she is there. some days are easier to be in the theatre than others. on that note, here's to some nice vag-i-nal (or vagina-l to be fair) births!

Lukum yu! (See you later)

1 comment:

Em said...

Oh flashback! Those two rows of table tennis tables lined up next to each other along the length of the gym. I had nearly forgotten. So ... um ... thanks?

And oh my! Molly! The dive into the cave sounds absolutely amazing! Any chance you have a waterproof camera to take with you sometime?