Saturday, September 10, 2011

Trains, Doctors, Americans O MY!

Remind me to never blog when I am sick. It is very depressing…

Anyway. After I wrote my last blog post I went straight to sleep and amazingly slept all the way through the night and when I woke up the next morning I felt better…not perfect…but better. I was able to go to two classes on friday so that way I only missed one and a half days of work instead of two full days and immediately after my second class I made a run to the bus and went to Chișinău. The medical office at Peace Corps wanted to make sure I was really better so they asked for me to come into Chișinău so that one of the doctors could examine me. This began my sojourn back to the familiarity of the capitol…

Buses in Moldova, as I have mentioned before, are very cheap, crowded, but usually very convenient. On this occasion the buses were frustrating. I made it to my raion center in 30 minutes and theoretically I should be able to hop on another bus once I get there and head to Chișinău. However, the next bus to leave from the raion was not until 1 hour and 40 minutes later. In addition the bus ride took 3 hours instead of the 2 and half hours I was expecting. All of this is important because by the time I arrived in the capital it was about 4:20, the medical office closes at 5, so I was cutting it very close. I sprinted from the bus station to the Peace Corps office and made it in only 10 minutes and the medical interview only took 10 minutes, which left me with only 20 minutes to spare.

As for the actual interview, the doctor just wanted to ask me a couple questions in person and to reiterate some tips and suggestions for proper food preparation and nutrition. Afterward I had my vital signs taken and was given a boatload of medication. A bag of pills for acid reflux (20mg of Prilosec), a bag of pills for nausea (200mg trimethobenzamide), and lastly an anti-parasitic (500mg Tinidazole). The best part was since I got the pills straight from the doctor I was left to either remember the doctor's instructions perfectly OR read the doctor scribble written on the bag of pills, (Yes doctor scribble is universal), no middle man pharmacist would save me this time. To further fill my brown paper bag of pills I was given two packages of Gatorade mix. I have never been so happy to see Gatorade.

In order to make up for me having to come into Chișinău on short notice and so late in the day the medical office gave me permission to spend the night in the TDY…(Which apparently means Temporary Duty and is a military acronym…The things you can learn with the internet.) The TDY is basically an apartment that Peace Corps keeps open for medical use. I was amazed by how nice it was. It had three bed rooms with two beds in each room, two bathrooms, one with a shower and one with a bathtub, and a well stocked kitchen, not stocked so much with food but with cooking utensils.

It was sort of bittersweet spending the night in the TDY because it was so nice it reminded me a lot of an apartment in America and was my first real experience where something really reminded me of home. In addition my doctor also prescribed that I take a long relaxing bath while I have the opportunity and use this night to relax. I always follow doctors orders and even though I packed in such a hurry that morning that I didn't even bring any soap or shampoo I still thoroughly enjoyed simply soaking in hot water for once. However, the TDY wasn't completely sunshine and butterflies as the bed and pillows were horribly uncomfortable which pleased me because it gave me an excuse to not feel as bad about leaving and going back to site. My bed and pillows at site are HEAVEN.

I felt bad as I talked to other volunteers however and mentioned I was staying at the TDY. "But you don't even look sick…" and "Ive never gotten to stay there yet, I thought you had to be near death to get to stay there." were the most common responses.

Speaking of volunteers another highlight of my trip was the opportunity to reconnect with all of my friends that I have not seen for the past three weeks. While living in a town with only one other English speaker has really helped my Romanian it has also been a little isolating. So it was great to be in the presence of 20 or more other volunteers in the last 24 hours  and speak a little "American" for the first time in a while.

But all good things must end, and in this case the end came in the form of a train.

I was given very specific instructions from my host mother that I had to take the train home even though I was allowed to take the bus to go to Chișinău. I didn't question why I simply nodded my head. (Mostly because questioning anything requires higher level Romanian skill than I am capable of)

I was lucky enough to get instructions from another volunteer about how to get to the train station and was even more lucky that the person at the ticket counter didn't ask me any questions when I simply said 'Scumpia' and handed her a 20 lei. She simply took my 20, returned me three lei and a ticket (Bus=47 lei, I like the idea of saving 60 lei every trip to Chișinău if I go by train). One issue arose however when I reviewed the ticket…it was in Russian. I had no idea what the train number was, when the train would leave, did I have a specific seat? I was clueless. Though I have recently become a master at the art of people watching and imitation and so I did what I have learned to do and merely followed whatever else was doing and made my way to the nearest train….The nearest train being three train tracks over…No matter everyone simply walks from the platform right onto the tracks to the middle platform and back across another set of railroad tracks to the right platform. Its the little things like that which still catch me off guard.

The train looked to be a 1940's model, though possibly built within the last 30 years as I have noticed a lot of things look a lot older than they really are. It was freshly painted, though this did not help the comfortability factor of the wooden seats. I was lucky that even though I had failed miserably with the bag I had packed I did somehow remember to toss in my iPod AND my headphones. Miraculous. The train ride took a little less than 4 hours but felt a lot longer. In the end I have to say that I might prefer taking the train as it offers the opportunity to stand up and stretch your legs and it is guaranteed to get you to your destination on time, unlike the buses. Every stop we made today was right to the minute, better than clockwork.

hmm...gotta love really long blog posts. Last thing I wanted to mention was that Fall has appeared with a vengeance and out of nowhere. When I packed my bag I was under the assumption that it was simply cool because it was morning, and because it had been a pretty constant 85 degrees everyday this week, so I tossed in a pair of shorts and a shirt. Little did I know that it would stay a pretty constant high 60's with a slight breeze, even colder in the shade. Now I may start to have a clothing crisis as I dont really have a jacket...though I do have a sweater and a sweatshirt. Is now a bad time to mention that I'm scared for what winter will bring?

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