We have spent five long and very full days seeing neurology patients here at FAME and had decided on working Saturday as well to finish whoever might be left. Lifestyles are different here so opening on a Saturday is not necessarily a death sentence for having a full clinic as it would be at home where it is so difficult to take time off of work. If they are working, most here work for themselves so that is not at all an issue.
Last March, I had asked if Renata, Daniel Tewa’s granddaughter, would like to work with us on a Saturday when she wasn’t in school. She was a natural at translating for us and, even better, she spoke fluent Iraqw when we had patients who didn’t speak Swahili. Last night, I again asked if she could spend the day with us and she was more than thrilled, so I picked her up at her home at 8am. She was ready for work including the reflex hammer I had given her last March. She was again a superstar and Dr. Laura taught her the neurological examination throughout the morning so that she was actually examining patients by the end of the morning. She is very smart and I have no doubt that if she wants to go into medicine she will be successful at it. Hopefully, she’ll even consider neurology!
As we were planning to go hiking into Empakai Crater the following day, I needed to go to the bank and to the Ngorongoro Conservation Area office to get our permits. Some time ago to prevent the temptation to embezzle money, the authorities did away with using cash at the various offices and gates of the parks. They set up a system whereby you go to the bank and deposit money into the appropriate account and then have to go to the office with the receipt for you deposit for them to give the necessary permits to enter. I went to the office with Sokoine to sort our how much we needed to deposit since we had the three of us, three Tanzanian citizens and two Maasai who live in the conservation area and don’t have to pay. I dropped Sokoine back at FAME and then ran back to the bank just before closing time on a Saturday which was needlessly to say quite crowded. I gave the appropriate amount of US dollars and then ran back to the conservation area office to show her my receipt and get our entrance permits. I finished this just before noon when all of the offices would close until Monday.
We finished our neurology clinic early (thanks to Laura and Kelley since they were seeing the patients without me that morning) and all met for our favorite lunch of rice and beans. Both Laura and Kelley wanted to shop for cloth to have some clothes made so it was decided that we would all go shopping with Renata in tow as our interpreter. It was not long, though, that we ran into Salina in town so she tagged along to help with translation at the shops. There was a patient that Laura had seen earlier in the week who owned a fabric shop, but it wasn’t entirely clear to us where her shop was other than Sokoine telling me that it was near the new bank in town. We first went to find her, but could not after an exhaustive search, so we abandoned that and decided to go to a shop where I had brought residents previously with good experiences. That shop had nice cloth, but the tailors we had used before apparently were not there any longer and we couldn’t be certain that the clothes would be made exactly to order. We continued to search for an acceptable shop in town when we finally heard back from Laura’s patient, Witnes, who said she would meet us near the new bank and take us to her shop which was close. Well, she walked us through backyards and fields loaded with pigs, cats, dogs and whatever else one could imagine until we finally arrived at her small shop. The girls immediately began looking at cloth and almost as quickly found some they liked. After ordering some skirts, Laura needed to check on something for her niece, but didn’t know how to size it. Witnes left through a back door and conveniently returned moments later with a baby about the approximate size of Laura’s niece so all was well. By this time, we had attracted the attention of some of Witnes’ normal patrons who began to collect along with some of their children. One was the cutest thing with tiny braids covering her entire head so that I initially thought she had a wig on.
We finally left Witnes’ shop after a fair amount of time and Laura wanted to stop at one of the other shops she had initially seen. The women in this shop were very helpful and both Laura and Kelley quickly found more cloth they liked and ordered a few more skirts. These are all hand made out of cloth produced in Tanzania and are in the most beautiful patterns you can imagine. The sewing machines are all manual and peddle powered. The workmanship is very fine and all this for a fraction of what you would have to pay in back at home if you could even find someone to do it. And even with that, you could never find such wonderful cloth. It was also a blessing that we had Salina and Renata with us to help translate what the girls wanted and I’m not sure what they would have done without the two of them. By now, we had spent several hours in town shopping and it was time for us to head home. We bade Salina farewell until Monday and Renata was heading to her parents shop on the other side of the tarmac. We will see Salina on Monday and Renata the week after next when we visit her family again.
We traveled back to FAME to relax for a few minutes before going out for dinner. We had plans to meet Sokoine along the tarmac and then head out for dinner at a good nyama chomwa spot. Nyama chomwa in Swahili literally means “burnt meat” and is there form of barbecue. When you enter the restaurant, you normally tell the butcher how many kilos (pre-cooked) you’d like and which piece of meat hanging that you would like and they put it on the grill for you. The restaurant we were attending tonight had enough guests eating that their meat was pre-grilled and you picked out you pieces and then they sliced it up for you. It’s served on a tray with pili-pili (hot sauce) and salt on the side along with separate “chipsees” which are French fries. We ate beef on this night, but you can order goat or lamb as well if desired. This and a cold beer makes a great dinner. It was the three of us, Alex and Sokoine and we very much enjoyed our dinners.
We left the restaurant with plans to go dancing at Carnivore, a pub that serves only grilled chicken, chipsees and fried plantains as well as beers and wine, but more importantly, they have a small dance floor and it has been a tradition for us to go dancing there since our last trip in March when we had an amazing amount of fun. Considering the three of us missed the pre-interview season Happy Hour back at home, I felt it was only fair for us to have a night out. As we left our dinner restaurant on our way to Carnivore, we bumped into Dr. Badyano on the street and he very quickly joined us with the intention of dancing. When we arrived at Carnivore, no one was dancing, but we quickly lit up the dance floor as the music was great and entirely inviting. Laura and Kelley were, of course, the life of the party and who would have expected anything less from them. We finally attracted a contingent of locals to dance with us discovering that some were a group of visiting teachers and another was a local businessman. Even the waitresses began dancing with everyone and it was the most fun I’ve had in sometime. As we had plans to go hiking in the Ngorongoro Conservation Area the following morning and leaving at 6:20am, we decided to head home shortly after 10pm or we were afraid we wouldn’t be able to get up. We drove home in the dark, all quite happy with our accomplishments for the day and equally happy with the recreation and the ability to let off some steam that night. Needless to say, we all slept well with dreams of seeing more of this paradise on the following day.