Friday, July 23, 2010

Pharyngitis and photos

And for my FOURTH blog post of the week, photos. I think these pretty well sum up the last 2 weeks of my life.

The only thing missing is a picture of the white pockets of nasty all over my throat, courtesy of a stubbornly persistent case of Strep throat ("non-group A bilateral streptococcal pharyngitis") that took 3 (yes, THREE) courses of antibiotics to get rid of. And then the doctor thought it was mono and took a bunch of my blood for testing, but turns out it was just Strep. And now, as of a doctor's visit this afternoon, I am Strep-free but still have a cold. Curses to African winter.

In other news...

This is one of the bus waiting rooms I painted with Andres Alfonso "Medico" Mendez Medina (Colombians apparently have LOTS of names), a graffiti artist from Colombia who fellow PCV Darryn met in Cape Town. He came to help her with her bus stop art projects, but his painting style (splatter painting, drippings, throwing handfuls of paint at the intended surface, etc.) appealed more to my style of art than hers, so I became his painting partner for a couple of days. This one says "Keep your country beautiful" and then on the yellow part (which I think looks like caution tape) "Don't throw your trash on the ground." We consider it an "environmental health" message, since everything we do has to be health-related. (Oh yeah, Medico is also a doctor. He was in Cape Town doing his surgical residency and just stopped by the Swaz en route to Jo'burg to fly back home.)

Medico painting the hands of random school children who had been standing around watching us for several hours. We did a few handprints on this bus stop, which the kids LOVE. And I think we managed to keep all the paint off their school uniforms...hopefully. Please note, however, Medico's pants...amazing. And if you look at the splatter-painted background, you'll understand why. (My right shoe also looks like that because, well, I'm right-handed and therefore throw paint with my right hand. My left shoe escaped the paint.)

The "dripping" technique that we used to add some color to the outside of the bus stops. When Medico explained to me what we'd be doing that morning, I had my reservations. I'm a very neat painter, and I measure EVERYTHING before I draw or paint it, so this was completely new to me. But I LOVED it.

The final product. I think it's fairly obvious what it says... I like the splatter painting effect because (1) it utilizes the whole space, and (2) it's impossible to vandalize. Go ahead, Swazi children, write your name on this bus stop. Nobody will see it!

"Kulapha Umsheko Ekhaya..." This is one of the two bus stops I painted on my own this week. It roughly translates to: "To treat diarrhea at home: Mix 1 liter of clean water that has been boiled and cooled with half a spoon of salt and 8 spoons sugar." That's the recipe for what we call "oral rehydration solution," which is basically like a nasty version of Gatorade. In this picture, it's not completely done--I had to figure out how to draw a spoon (well, 9 of them) before I could finish, and then I forgot to take photos of the final product. Also, please note the lettering that I drew free-hand rather than measuring out to be exactly uniform. I think I'm becoming increasingly confident in my artistic abilities...thanks to Medico!

Jorge from the borehole-digging company, support group chairman Justice Lukhele, and another support group member checked the existing borehole for depth and water while Sisters Teresita and Ada and I speculated about the presence of snakes in the tall grass surrounding us. The borehole was 55 meters deep, with water at 29 meters from ground level. Good news!

My favorite bus stop so far! "Sebentisa iCondom" means "Use a condom," which I'm sure you could have guessed. Technically, I should've used the word "lijazi," which means sweater, instead of "icondom," but I'm going for a more direct approach. SiSwati is full of euphemisms, which I think complicates discussion of sex and HIV-related topics. For example, the Swazi version of "Always use a condom when you have sex," ("Uma ulalana nabani sebentisa lijazi") actually translates as "Wear a sweater when you sleep next to someone." Sometimes they call a condom a "penis sweater," which I just think is hilarious.

The other day, I stumbled upon a mass slaughtering of pigs and, naturally, decided to take a picture. (I also took a video, only to realize while editing it that it was REALLY disturbing!) One by one, these guys dragged the pigs out of their pens by their back legs, whacked them over the head with a club to knock them unconscious, then slit their throats to kill them and drain some of the blood. Then, after the pig stopped convulsing, they poured boiling water over its body and scraped its bristly hairs off with a razor blade before stacking it on top of the other cleaned pig bodies in the back of a pick-up truck. I stood there for like 15 minutes watching, mezmerized by the sound of the club hitting the pigs' hard skulls and the demon-like screaming of the pigs who knew they were next. Disgusting, I know.

Jorge and the Sisters measuring the distance between the borehole site and the garden, where we'll dig the trench to lay the underground water pipes. The sisters have each been here over 30 years and, in talking with them about their work in the community, I find comfort in the fact that they see the same problems and have the same frustrations and feel taken advantage of in the same ways that I do. I'm wishing I would've worked more closely with them throughout my service, but I guess that's a good thing for the next volunteer to know?? Also, I love this picture. Something about the contrast between their whites (which are the whitest whites I've seen in years) and the dirt road, or the landscape and the sky, or something.

Support group members beginning to clear a path through the forest so we can lay 850 meters of pipes from the borehole to the various taps. I feel bad cutting down all these trees, but then I remind myself that they're all non-indigenous invasive species and they'd be cut down for firewood anyway. I seemed to be the only one concerned about the possibility of snakes in the brush.

Support group chairman Justice clearing the small branches off a tree so it can be carried home as firewood. Mostly the men cut stuff down and the ladies dragged it places and tied it into bundles for firewood. And I just stood and took pictures, using my sandals as an excuse for not helping.

So there it is. The project is coming along nicely, I think. This morning (Friday), I went with the Sisters to talk to Babe Gcina, the Indvuna (head of the chief's advisory council) about the project. He gave his blessing for the project, but said that we should talk to the whole council about the project, and get the chief's blessing on Monday before we start doing actual work. We agreed, then kept doing work anyway. So, Monday morning, I will sit through yet ANOTHER meeting where I understand about 10% of what's being said, and will continue doing exactly what I'm doing now regardless of the outcome. By the end of next week we'll start digging the trench, and by the end of the following week we'll have Jorge and his guys come out to start laying the pipes and installing the water pump and whatnot. They've PROMISED me that it will all be done by 13 August, but I'll keep you all posted on our progress.

Next week, I'll be in Mbabane Tuesday through Friday doing my Close of Service medical exams. I'll have a dental exam, a full physical, TB test, and blood, urine, and stool sample tests to make sure that I don't leave Swaziland with any weird African diseases for doctors in the US to misdiagnose. Strangely enough, the part I hate the most (even more than the stool samples!) is the TB skin test. I just can't handle watching that needle moving around under my skin. Gross.

And on that note, I'm off to sleep another consecutive 14 hours in an attempt to kick this cold. What an exciting Friday night...

Love from the Swaz!

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