Friday, October 7, 2011

The Hospital and Town

The Main Drag in Motta
Motta was much bigger than any of the villages we passed through on the way, -population of 40,000 according to the information sheet I was given -  and the hospital was at the far end, opposite the prison. My first impression of the hospital was that we had come to the wrong one, as it looked abandoned, with tired cracked and muddied covered concrete pathways  joining  a double line of concrete sheds surrounded right up to the windows by 2 meter high grass. But helpers appeared immediately and my bags disappeared along a  rocky narrow  dirt track  making almost a tunnel through the long grass. I stumbled along behind, and after stepping across a couple of open drains and through a rusty iron gate a cluster of little buildings emerged – each being a strip of 4 small flats. Outside one of them – the one that is now my home till January – a great cheer went up from a small group sitting in the sun  in a strip of cleared grass as we came round the corner – they had been waiting for me. They were also saying goodbye to Diana a dutch midwife who left a few minutes later with her huge backpack, back to Motta and then to the newly opened tiny BMF hospital at Mile, in the Afar region of Ethiopia a few hundred miles east. My stuff was dumped in her room next door to Dr “Fritz” room. He and his wife were leaving on Monday and then there would only be two white faces in Motta, an American Peace Corps volunteer being the other one.
Front entrance to the Motta Hospital

Hospital buildings across a field of Tef
My Place with the Blue Bucket outside, and  the Broken water tower
I met two of the three Ethiopian hospital doctors, and handed over to one of them the things I had been given for him by an Australian midwife who worked here for three months earlier this year. He was overjoyed. I explained that the simplest way to pass his exams using  the 5 kg of medical textbooks I had just given him was to simply learn everything contained in them and understand it all perfectly and he would fly through. Fritz showed me round the hospital and we checked on the only woman in the Maternity unit, and later all of us went to the Wubet Hotel for dinner. It was a lovely walk along the wide rough road into town in the late afternoon, and I was hungry. As before there were lots of people on the streets but none seemed to be in a hurry. A number of old women were carrying small charcoal burners and setting up shop squatting in the dust on the edge of the road roasting corn cobs.
Now the Wubet is reputed to be the Best in Motta but though  the walls and floor are bare, and the chairs and tables basic, the St George Beer was good and so was my “Spaghetti with Meat Sauce”  The locals among us ordered the traditional meal of Injera, something I knew I would have to try at some stage but given that westerners generally describe it as like eating sodden rotten  blotting paper, I wasn’t really looking forward to it. It is usually served on a plate like large limp dirty grey pancakes, bigger than the largest pizza size,  then torn into portions used to scoop up accompanying sauces and meats which are piled in the middle of it. So I tried it and was pleasantly surprised – it was indeed soft and flabby in the mouth, a little bitter but not very flavoursome, it was probably the texture that was strangest but I ate several portions with no ill effects. I had been worried that if I couldnt stomach the staple local diet, what was I going to be able to eat? Now I thought it might be OK after all.

Yemataw, hospital shoe shine boy having "Fasting Variety " Injera at Wubet

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