Day 27

  • Slept in which means waking up at 9am (thank you, internal alarm clock)
  • The gods of exercise were really frowning on me today: gym was already closed by the time I wanted to go AND exercise room on our roof was closed for heavy winds. Ended up working out in the kitchen so thanks @Morganne for watching and cheering me on.
  • Went down to the V&A waterfront with Brooke and Morganne
  • While they went to check out the Zeitz Museum of Modern Art, I headed to Exclusive Books (in the mall) to utilize their café
  • Played lots of sudoku, read my book, and updated the blog
  • After Brooke and Morganne saw a movie, I met up with them and three of Brooke’s Duke friends to grab a pub dinner while watching soccer
  • Started pouring rain during dinner and we got absolutely drenched on our way to the Uber. Begrudgingly blessing the rains down in Africa.

Day 14

Today was the definition of “hurry up and wait”. The maternity staff always rotates and one staff works Monday, Tuesday, Friday while the other does Wednesday and Thursday. Today, we had the staff who lets us do all the deliveries but not much of the paperwork. Unfortunately, nobody was in labor so it ended up being a pretty slow day. This would’ve been fine if I had a book or something but my silly self brought a book where I only had 20 pages left and finished it during the ride to the clinic. Side note– the book was “Sorority” by Genevieve Sly Crane… there wasn’t really a plot it was more of a fictional exposé so it was fun to read and felt low-key trashy but the quality writing was incredible? 7/10, would still recommend. Anyways, I was left to my thoughts and my Candy Crush but it was a wonderful day nonetheless. One of the Mercer interns left last week for a family emergency and another one arrived today so we had fun getting to know her and just hang out together.

However, after a very slow morning we decided we needed to do something. I ended up heading over to the dentistry unit to see if they’d let me observe. Luckily, a (particularly beautiful) dentist let me watch him do lots of tooth extractions. Though I’m fine with blood/other medical procedures, something about cracking teeth and dental tools has always given me a fright. I stayed for about an hour, watching children and adults alike with tooth pain get numbing shots then having every painful tooth removed. He said about 95% of patients come here for extractions with the other 5% being “patches” (cavity fillings) and cleanings (rare). As interesting as this process was, I scooted out after about an hour.

After we returned for lunch, a mother went into serious labor around 1:30. This woman had been sitting on a bed for a while but, as she told me, “I’m trying to push but only the poo poo is coming out!” Disclaimer for anybody who has not yet given birth/is nervous about it: 90% of women poop in labor so when it happens to you, know you are NOT alone (in fact, you’re normal). This same woman kept wanting me to clean it up for her but didn’t know my name so she continually shouted “White Woman!” every five minutes for an hour. It has become my new identity within the clinic. She begged me for an “operation” saying that she didn’t want to push anymore but, unfortunately, that’s not an option at our clinic.

After some more consoling and even more “White Woman” calls, she was ready to push and I could feel the baby’s head. However, she was only about 5cm dilated and the possibility of a baby coming out seemed nearly impossible from an outsider’s perspective. The sister-on-staff told us to go for it and get her pushing so we set up around her: Nikki lifting the head and shoulders, Skylar on the abdomen pressure to push the baby down, and me on the pulling/catching side with Madison (new intern) watching from the sideline. After a few pushes and a lot of stretching, the baby was out and breathing (and mama only needed 1 stitch!). It cried for about 10 seconds before going silent which meant we had to start hitting/flicking it to keep it crying (and, therefore, alive). This baby was alert, looking around, and clearly breathing, but it just didn’t need to cry. It was precious. After cleaning him off and weighing him, I got to hold him for 15 minutes while the others dealt with the mother/cord/placenta. Highlight of the day, for sure– he was biting his fingers, staring at me, and sticking his tongue out like a pro.

We headed out to the parking lot as soon as we got ourselves cleaned up (baby fluid/blood literally goes everywhere) and hopped onto our shuttle where the driver, Luvo, immediately asked “how many babies?” He’s the best. I headed home, hit the gym, then went out to dinner with some new friends from the Safari before jumping into my glorious bed. Tess (roommate) is living out in Franschhoek in her boss’ guest house so that they can work every day for a week (it takes him an hour to really get into Cape Town so they don’t get to work much) and I’m a little bit lonely but it’s nice to have some space for the first time in a while. One Mad Men episode in and I can already feel myself fading so it’s time to peace out. The Xhosa word of the day is “remove” as in a tooth: khupha.

Day 11

Today we celebrated Youth Day at the clinic! All week, the sisters and nurses had been talking to Nikki and me about how we needed to wear school uniforms on Friday to celebrate “the 16th of June” (which was actually on Saturday anyway) !!! After some outside research clarifying what exactly that holiday celebrated, I stumbled onto some really interesting information about the tradition of Youth Day. On June 16th, 1976, thousands of black students in a Joberg township (Soweto) left school to protest against the Apartheid regime. They rallied against a new order that made Afrikaans compulsory in all black township schools across the country, prohibiting the use of local languages. The rallies were meant to be peaceful but once police started to break up the crowds, riots erupted and more than 500 students were killed. Though celebrated on the anniversary of a tragic event, Youth Day celebrations around the country are meant to  empower youth of all ethnicities and commemorate their anti-apartheid efforts.

While we didn’t have full school uniforms, we did locate some plaid in our suitcases and wore it under our scrubs to give some semblance of school skirts. All of the maternity employees came dressed to the nines this morning. They wore their old/borrowed uniforms from a variety of schools, dressed in blazers, ties, skirts, and pigtails. They laughed at our plaid concoction and asked if this was what our American uniforms looked like (scrubs included). Nikki and I spent the morning getting thirty-ish women in and out of the post-labor ward while the sisters and nurses ran around taking pictures, singing school songs, and enjoying their Friday. For the first time I felt like I was really helping out in the maternity unit, making the employees’ jobs just a little bit easier. Thankfully, they felt the same way, praising us when we emptied the room out around 11. Since our Friday shuttle wasn’t coming until 12:30, we had some free time to hang out with the dressed up maternity ladies before taking off for the weekend. They demanded some photoshoots, performed again for us, and showed us pictures of their young kids. My favorite was one woman’s 3-year-old daughter who applied a panty liner as “mask” and used her mother’s stethoscope to check on a family member who was under the weather. All of these wonderful photos with Njemna (our paperwork queen) and everybody else are in the gallery, as per usual. Below is the school chant they performed for us.

I spent the afternoon reading, napping, working out, and packing in preparation for our Safari this weekend. Around 6, I went to check out a store called “The Book Lounge” on the corner of Roeland and Buitenkant known for its homey nature and frequent book releases and was very impressed. I purchased “The Female Persuasion” by Meg Wolitzer (on my summer reading list!) and resisted many more potential reads until I finish the three books currently on my shelf. It comes in just behind Strand in New York City as my favorite bookstore. V cute picture of this place featured below.

The-lounge-area-1060x460

For dinner, I headed to The Fireman’s Arms, one of Cape Town’s oldest pubs, on Bree to catch the Spain-Portugal soccer game. I met up with Rex and some other UVA friends (all from iXperience), chowed on some fish and chips, and got a little bit too much into soccer for the first time in my life. #TeamSpain all the way. Now I’m back home, finishing my packing in preparation for the Garden Route Game Lodge this weekend! Xhosa word of the day is “fish”: intlanzi.

Day 5

This morning got off to a slow start, with Tess, Morganne, and me (roommates) lounging in bed as we listened to the blissful sound of rain. In a city where day zero of a drought looms within the next year, rain is always a feat to be celebrated. Morganne and I zipped off to the local grocery store, Woolworths (very similar to Whole Foods), and picked up more of their incredible premade meals… from samoosas to wraps to soups to pies they have it all.

Around 11:30, we took off for Old Biscuit Mill, a shopping hub in Woodstock (suburb) that turns into a huge food/craft market on Saturday mornings. Food stalls were spread throughout the market offering selections from curry to paella to baked goods to pho and every cultural dish in-between. After a few rounds, I stuck with some Korean glass noodles and a grilled chicken seaweed burrito (“edo”), both of which were absolutely fantastic. This market is a must for any visitors and I place I hope to hit up every Saturday from here on out. The craft booths boasted beautiful jewelry, vintage clothes, and stylish bags and nearby shops provided an array of fashion, spices, and kitchenware. My wallet shed a few tears at the good ol’ Biscuit Mill.

We returned home to bask a little bit more in the glory of rain before heading upstairs to work out in the rooftop gym room (no machines, just mats and space). As sunset approached, we loved getting to squat, jump, and stretch all while looking out the floor-to-ceiling windows at the Cape Town skyline. Pictures to come. Morganne and I stayed out on the rooftop deck reading as the sun truly set, providing a wonderful viewing point for the ~golden hour~.  Up there, I finished “The Hate U Give” by Angie Thomas which I cannot recommend enough. If you don’t believe me look at the list of awards it’s received: William C. Morris Award, Michael L. Printz Award, Coretta Scott King Award, Waterstones Children’s Book Prize, and the longest for the 2017 National Book Award. Published in only February of 2017, this novel is simply incredible and also a very quick read.

Returned from the rooftop to whip up some delicious dinners / bran muffins (Woolworths mix for the win) and now we’re all laying in bed watching movies until we fall asleep. Xhosa word of the day is “delicious”: nandi.