Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Me vs African driving- St. Lucia

April 9th: The weekend was fast approaching and Hailey and I had extreme difficulties trying to rent a car and arrange a place to stay. We decided St. Lucia would be a great place. It has a beach, wildlife, restaurants, everything we wanted to see and do. We planned to book everything on Friday morning before showing up for our rotation. Since we had access to computers all week, this should have gone without a hitch. But of course, there must be complications. When we got to the medical school we couldn’t get into the computer lab because a test was being administered. Tests would take up the entire computer lab until 1 pm apparently. Its ok though, there was another computer lab downstairs. After inputting our log in numbers and passwords, the computers were not allowing us to log on. Confused we asked why this isn’t working. This was our answer: “there is a test being administered upstairs in the computer lab and as a result we have to shut our entire network down”. WHAT?! How in the world does that make sense? The entire medical school is internetless for more than half the day and they’re still able to function efficiently without it? Frustrated, we went to our rotation hoping to get over to the internet café nearby. The day at work was pretty smooth, we just checked in on the babies and kids to make sure they were improving. We slipped out the door after seeing a 2 week infant with hydrocephalus. Hydrocephalus is essentially water in the head. This happened during pregnancy and the mother could have opted for treatment while the baby was in utero. For some unexplained reason, she did not. The baby was consequently born with this massive head filled with water. Surgeons inserted a shunt that runs from the head into the abdomen so it could drain. It looked way too bizarre so we just left.
We arrived at the mall only to find the internet café broken for the fifth day in a row. For some reason, we managed to find another café in a video rental store. Now the problem was a 25 minute wait. Fast forwarding, we eventually got online and managed to book a place.
After work, Hailey and I bolted home and packed and left for St. Lucia. Everybody said it takes 3 hours to get to St. Lucia…. and of course you can’t check in past 7 pm. (the number of setbacks can be quite grueling sometimes). We forked over some extra money for an automatic because since I just learned, and since they drive on the other side of the road, plus being at night in an unfamiliar place… we figured it was a good investment. We asked Roy for some directions to the highway and they consisted of, “turn left out of the neighborhood onto that main road and make a u-turn at the sign where it says you can’t u-turn” or “when you smell bread, then go across the road and turn right”. Eventually, we made it to the highway. The drive was pretty easy and very pretty. There were many villages interspersed throughout the drive, they were filled with clay huts and traditional Zulu homes. However, things get a little crazy once the sun sets. All the sudden I see cars driving on the emergency shoulder, driving a little faster, everybody is flashing their brights and emergency blinkers. This became so chaotic and hectic. I was so confused as to why people became so uninhibited when the sun goes down. Turns out the emergency shoulder becomes an actual lane so that people can pass in the actual lane. Problem with this is that the shoulder is narrower than the actual lane so it causes all the cars passing to stick out into opposing traffic a little bit. I was trying to keep with the flow of traffic and would pass occasionally. I tried to pass this semi with plenty of room to spare (I thought so at least). I then realized I am not driving my VW Passat…. I am driving a Chevy Aveo that has about half the power of the Passat. It was a close call to say the least. Good thing is that we got there in two hours flat :)
We got the keys from some random person and headed to our villa. We had our own garage and two bedrooms. However, we did not expect the sheer size of it! It was huuuge. We both had our own bedroom, a nice kitchen, living room and dining room. Plus, we screamed when we saw SHOWERS! We have been taking baths since we arrived here since that’s most common here in South Africa. We about passed out when we saw there was fast internet available with no filters, or out dated computers. I finally got to upload my photos to Facebook and truly update everyone. Most of all, I was able to see Jayson for the first time on Skype. It made me feel really giddy inside and we acted like we had just met. Before I knew it, it was time for bed since we were waking up to go to beach the next day.

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