Our guide in the astonishing town of Lalibela had promised us a free African massage, and we were now getting it. Bouncing along a rough partially made road in a Toyota van I felt, well, massaged. Chris next to me; Beth and Paul behind, the arid countryside of parched grey earth, scattered acacia trees and primitive farming rushed by backed by truly spectacular mountain scenery.
As will every other day for several months, my birthday dawned bright and cloudless and, somewhat annoyingly, at 6:30 am. It’s Saturday so laying around in bed for a bit is quite appropriate, until I try to watch the BBC Breakfast News when the Internet does what it often does – the speed oscillates alarmingly between zero and very fast for a couple of minutes then it fails altogether.
Amharic has a fabulous term to describe naughty or cheeky. It is ‘rabash’. This week an animal on the compound could definitely be described as rabash. There are several wild cats that live in the rubbish pit. I have often jumped when emptying a bin and a cat has jumped down in front of me from a dark corner.
Several important events have happened recently; a couple of them we noticed much more than in previous years as we now have a panoramic view of the local area from our new second floor flat. The birds changed – the vultures suddenly vanished (hooray!) and dozens of yellow-billed kites returned, circling and swooping around outside our window. (What do all these big birds of prey eat we wondered? Hopefully the local rat population.)
Often my medical work is little different from my UK practice, except that most of my patients are a lot poorer than the population of affluent St Albans. I live and work in a big city at high altitude that doesn’t suffer the same degree of tropical disease as more remote and lower places. However sometimes things come my way that take me by surprise. Here are three short examples from my work today that my medical readers in particular will appreciate. it’s interesting to reflect on what might happen were these situations to arise in the UK. One in particular would make national headlines.
As I stand in the kitchen and clear (although undrinkable) water flows from the tap into the sink, I glance through the apartment window. This affords a great view of the river that meanders behind the school compound wall. I can see a lady about to do the same chore as me - washing up. The difference is that her water today is a deep muddy brown and flowing downstream apace.