Sunday Morning ~ Dedza
March 11, 2018
Mvumbi ku ana, akulu nadya nthanga.~ Heavy rains for the children, the adults eat pumpkins.
~ Malawian Proverb
I’m sitting on the porch of the pottery lodge looking out over Dedza Mountain. It’s been a long week. I’ve been frazzled and irritable. We were supposed to get away last weekend but because of our friend’s traumatic robbery, stayed home to be with them. This weekend wasn’t looking good either, even though we’d long ago planned to spend it hiking to the ancient rock art with good friends. When we started out on Friday afternoon, two hours later than we’d planned, we nearly got into a collision at the rotary leaving the city. Tired, hungry, and depressed (did I already say frazzled?) I lit into George for not looking more carefully at who had the right of way. He retorted with “I was MILES from that car!”, which, as our friend Peter said last evening when we recounted the story, was like waving a red flag in front of a bull. It seemed like we were going to be fighting the whole time and shouldn’t even drive the three hours to Dedza. George asked, “Do you even want to go?” dodging more Blantyre traffic. I thought saying home would be worse, but wasn’t speaking to him so didn’t say anything. By the time we’d driven another hour it seemed too late to turn around. Yesterday we took a long beautiful, therapeutic hike up the mountain. We were a third of the way down when it started pouring. The rain made for a slow descent and there wasn’t time (or inclination) to go to the rock art. We came back here drenched and tired but sporting good moods. We showered and wrapped ourselves in blankets and settled in with tea then wine, board games and good conversation. Glad we came.
This time of year has George winding down and me getting overwhelmed. The nursing school’s schedule is so unbalanced. It’s crazy. This week my first year students started on the wards. It is their first clinical experience and they are supposed to be checking vital signs and making beds and transferring patients to x-ray; stuff like that. Basic skills. After six hours on the wards I find them giving medications, starting IVs, one was giving blood! I was flipping out! They have no idea what they are doing, but are too intimidated to tell whomever told them to perform that task that they don’t know how to do it! I spent my week running around saying “These are not mannequins! They are human beings! You can’t poke her with this needle (you are now touching with your non sterile gloves) ten times!” The women don’t say a word. They let anyone with a uniform or white coat do whatever they want. It makes me crazy. I’ve been on the verge of tears all week. Well, Thursday and Friday I was in tears. I get so upset trying to be with ten students spread out over an acre, doing mediocre bedside teaching and feeling like I am doing a terrible job. I go back to my office occasionally to collect my wits. On Thursday, I had a splitting headache and was sitting at my desk with my head in my hands wondering why they put the generator on when the power was working. I looked out the window and didn’t see the generator. Then I thought, hmm, that’s getting louder; it sounds like a train. The I felt the floor moving and then the walls, and knew, it was a real live earthquake. Having worked in Haiti after the earthquake there and seeing those buildings in ruins, I ran outside as fast as I could. Others were doing the same thing. A few moments after I got outside it started subsiding but there was no way to know that would happen when it started. These brick buildings are supposed to be the worst to be in if there is an earthquake. They just crumble. The epicenter was in the very south of the country, ninety miles from Blantyre. We found out a very short time later that it was a 5.6 (earthquaketrack.com lets you know minute by minute where there is an earthquake in the world and how big it is). Amazing. We heard there was damage near the epicenter but have been without internet and haven’t seen photos or even heard any more about it. Very scary though.
Friday morning before I ran out to the hospital, I checked my email and saw one from the doctor I worked with at the Women’s Center in Bar Harbor. She was one of the five of us who started the Women’s Health Center in 1993. We’re heading off to hike to the ten thousand year old rock art, so I am not going to have time to write about that email right now, but it is both disturbing and encouraging. Women have had it. We’ve been living in abusive workplaces for so long we saw it as normal. The shift taking place is frightening and exciting, a little like that earthquake. I want to be careful about how I tell this story and need to think about it. Ten thousand years ago pigmy bushmen ground red rocks into powder, mixed it with animal blood, and painted designs on the cave walls where they lived. I’m trying to picture that civilization where life was in such a balance that everyone’s contribution had to be valued equally. Women were responsible for the majority of the food collected. They were very much equal to men. Ten thousand years ago. I need to think about which way the pendulum is swinging.
Love to all,