Friday, April 23, 2010

Those in glass houses...

Since this week isn’t the most mind-blowing week, the days have been somewhat uneventful but I have learned a ton. Also, I am getting inside information on why exactly this epidemic is continuing to propagate itself through generations. I saw plenty of cases where the patient does not take his ARV’s for one reason or another and has consequently become worse, developed resistance to the drugs, and then passed that resistant strain onto his usually multiple partners. The scariest information I’ve taken down is that it is common to not disclose your own positive status to your partner who is negative. I feel awful whenever I come across those because the woman truly has no idea what’s coming. Most likely, she’ll get infected and the epidemic continues. A lot of the people who have kept their positive status a secret have had previous partners who have died of an unknown illness (according to them). But really, you could probably guess what it was most likely from. Some of the patients have reported to be taking traditional medicine made by traditional healers, or inyangas. Nobody knows exactly what these medicines are made of but one thing is for sure- it doesn’t help. They suspect they are made from dishwashing detergent, ammonia based compounds, bizarre plant extracts, and some acids. For lunch, we went out walking around looking for something to eat. We were definitely in a very unsafe part of Durban so we needed to find something pretty quick before we look lost. We ended up at this pizza place and had a pretty good meal. When we walked outside the wind was blowing so hard that when we were crossing the street we heard this big smash. All the sudden glass starts falling from the sky and onto the sidewalk, on people, and on top of cars. Luckily, we were just outside of the area where some glass broke so we didn’t get hit. We looked up and a couple windows about 5 or 6 stories up blew out. To paint a grim picture, with all the dust, trash, papers, people running, and glass flying everywhere, it looked like a miniature 9/11. The glass explosions would not stop there. That night, it was actually chilly. And by chilly, I just closed my window and slept all the way under the covers. But we managed to make some hot chocolate. I remembered bringing some hot chocolate mix from home and thought I would never use it. I brought it out for the family to try and we boiled some water (we had no milk =( ). We took some glasses out and started pouring the water into the glasses. Thulani and I were preparing them so I was stirring after he poured the water. As soon as I put the spoon into the water, the glass exploded! I mean a clean cut, side bursting, Mt. St. Helens style explosion all over the floor and myself! Thankfully I’m quick as a damn cheetah and I moved out of the way in time to evade the majority of the explosion.
Later that night Boom Boom and I went over to Hailey’s homestay family for a game called DONKEY. Eager to learn this game, I listened closely only to hear that it’s spoons + horse. First one to spell Donkey loses. When you spell Donkey, you have to do a dare. These dares are already prewritten essentially and they were quite barbaric. Choices included jumping into their pool (this pool’s pump has been broken for months and is full of algae, bugs, green, murky, and probably has a crocodile in it), eat dirt (wtf?), drink half cup of chili juice + chilies, fear factor drink, drink toilet water, streaking, cut off part of your hair, or drink 2 liters of water with one break. I was determined not to lose!! I REFUSED to partake in any of those. Thankfully, I did not lose. Minnie, who is Hailey’s youngest brother lost. We chose the fear factor drink for him. Hailey, her 2 brothers, Boom Boom, and I concocted this drink that I remember consisting of creamed spinach, beet juice, raw egg, salt, soy sauce, peri peri (African hot sauce…its HOT), chili juice, water, cottage cheese, and garnished with a coconut marshmallow. Pretty much it was the grossest thing I’ve seen. It took some strong convincing, including some by Zola, the mom, to get Minnie to even drink a sip. Apparently it was insanely hot. His lips went pretty numb and he began to drool. In the end, he did not satisfy our needs so we dragged him to the pool and threw him in to cool off. It was the first time our families came together, and it turned out to be a great time. Then it hit me, this weekend would be the last weekend in Durban. Next Saturday, I am packing up all my stuff, leaving the family I became very close with, and flying to Cape Town to start all over again. Although very exciting to move onto a new place, to start all over again seems somewhat daunting.

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