My Saturday started by waking up at 4:30 AM to go check my email. I was waiting for a message that needed to be answered by midnight EST (6:00 AM our time). Since my computer doesn’t connect to the available Wi-Fi in the house, I have to walk down the path and sit in front of the administration building where the router is. I was bundled up in two fleeces and a winter jacket, grabbed my headlamp and headed out into the dark. I could have been back in Boston, enjoying the beginning of the three-day Memorial weekend in the warmth of spring. Instead, I’m typing away under the stars, my hands stiff with cold, listening to the birds chirping, a cow mooing in the distance and I wouldn’t change a thing.
When I was done, I crawled back into bed. Breakfast was served at the cafeteria at 8AM, so we all woke up in time for it, even though we would have all preferred to sleep in. Afterwards, Trista, Rosie and I went on a scouting mission around the hospital compound and the surrounding streets in search of coffee for Dr. Corless, but came back empty-handed. However, if we need some tomatoes, onions or cabbages, we now know where to find them. [Note: It was their generosity of spirit that sent them on the coffee search mission and not my direction. PS. I’m not the only coffee drinker here, we all are and as you know from our previous blog, coffee is not available here. That contributed to our fatigue from the flights. IC].
Our hosts invited us to observe the Sabbath by going to Church with them. This included an interesting conversation about epigenetics, some lovely hymn singing and the wonderful inclusion of children in all aspects of the service. The sense of community among the congregants was palpable.
Afterwards, some of the faculty at the College of Nursing joined us for lunch, where we had a lively conversation about life, politics and what there is to do locally. This spurted an impromptu post-lunch field trip with Dr. Ranotsi. We drove through the road of Mapoteng, checking out the local businesses. We continued on to the neighboring town, where we experienced the vibrant atmosphere of the market and the minibus taxi stop.
Those we saw took people to Teyateyaneng (or as the locals call it, TY), or the border town of Maputsoe to do their shopping in Ficksburg, Free State, South Africa. We continued on until the end of town, where we had majestic views of the Maluti mountain range, part of the Drakensberg range. The landscapes here are breathtaking, and I cannot do them justice in words. Along the way, we saw houses, big and small, including charming traditional rondavels. Our driver had promised us some animal sight seeing and he did not disappoint: Basotho horses, donkeys, chickens and sheep, as well as the occasional cat were all spotted.
Dr. Ranotsi told us about her experiences being a nurse in the mountains, isolated from her family, with no access to modern amenities such as phone service or plumbing. They used radios to communicate between mountain health centers. Being lonely, many a nurse may have over-shared personal information over the waves to feel connected and for the entertainment of the other nurses.
When we returned to the medical campus, we spent some time doing homework, fighting with the Wi-fi connection and having our vegetarian dinner together. After dinner, we had a delightful “girls night”, where the four of us talked about our future goals and hopes and got to know each other a little better. Now, off to bed. We may have more luck finding coffee tomorrow!