Friday, 29 May 2009

More Window Shopping

The other day we were stopped at a traffic light. Yes, a traffic light!! And people in this country stop when they should and go when they should. It is an amazing thing! I have thought to myself that if you stop for long enough, any thing you could ever want will walk by you…on someone’s head or just waved at your window. It really does give a whole new meaning to “window shopping”. I was observing this when I thought, “I need to write down all the things I could buy from my window… I could not write fast enough…fire extinguishers, bathroom drains, teapots and teacups, exercise equipment, DVDs and CDs, posters of intestines, door handles, patio umbrellas, guitars, cute little rubber boots, maps of the world, posters of African leaders, grass clippers, desk lamps, clocks, battery chargers, thermos’, and last but not least, wine glasses. And around the corner…dresses in trees. I did buy one of those. I call it my tree dress. Window shopping – a truly African experience!

Thursday, 21 May 2009

False Alarm

Yesterday I was helping in the Cafe making coffee. Suddenly the fire alarm on board went off. I have never seen the cafe empty so quickly as people ran to their emergency stations. If it is a drill, the Captain will immediately announce "This is a drll, this is a drill, this is a drill" over the loud speaker system. Nothing yesterday. It took 5 minutes for the announcement that it was a false alarm. Meanwhile the name callers and fire teams and cabin checkers were all in place. Later we found out what had happened...One of the cataract patients, an older woman, was standing waiting in the stairwell for her surgery. The ship moved a bit and she reached out to steady herself (remember this woman is blind) and when she reached out she leaned against the fire alarm. Immediately the alarms went off and she began to cry. She thought she had broken the ship. I think it is funny. In hindsight.
I understand her concern. I see these people coming so slowly up the gangway and so hesitant sometimes even on the stairs inside. Many have never been on board a ship before. They are very courageous to come. And desperate...

Friday, 15 May 2009

Desperate to be seen...

I was just having a cup of tea in my cabin and looked out and saw this young woman on the dock, napping as she waits to be seen. So often the view from my window is just amazing, not in big ways but a story in itself. Every morning just below my window 30 to 40 people wait to be guided up the aft gangway into the hospital for their cataract surgeries. Our Eye surgeon does over 30 surgeries a day. He has perfected a low tech, no stitch surgery that takes under 5 minutes usually. He is truly amazing. If I walk down the hospital hallway later in the day, I will see them waiting, with a bit of tape on their foreheads over the eye to be done. Often they have cataracts in both eyes.
The other day a motorcycle driver came in for a surgery and after surgery headed out with a patch on that eye. There are over 70,000 of these Taxi motorcycles. But it was quite alarming to think of him driving.
Yesterday Ken and I took a group of the crew out to see the Eye team. It is out at these clics we set that we see thousands of patients and screen for cataract surgeries. While there , a near fight broke out.

People are desperate to be seen. We do understand the desperation to have your eyes seen. We cannot understand.