Today was such an epic day. I am completely exhausted. I cried a lot, laughed a lot, learnt a lot and waited… a lot!
We started out the day with a trip to the hospital. We go almost every week to give baby bundles to the women there in the maternity ward. Sally and I decided we’d walk this morning and thank to my way overestimation on the timing of said walk… we got to sit in the sun, just outside the Physio department and practise some Portuguese with some passers by. It was really quite lovely. After visiting all of the new Mums, we visited my little friend in hospital. She has burns on her arm, cheek, chest and back from some boiling water. As it was a holiday here yesterday, she hadn’t even seen a doctor when we visited. I found out this evening that she was discharged later in the day. That just doesn’t seem right. I don’t get it.
After coming home and bawling my eyes out for a little while, I got stuck into my Portuguese lesson with D. She’s wonderfully patient and I don’t completely suck so we’re having fun together. After about an hour and a half of that, she suggested we go and see the President together and I, thinking it would take a couple of hours, agreed. Jack decided he would join in on the action too and off we went… with a small detour.
We stopped at D’s house to “drop off her bag.” I am learning that an apparently simple thing such as dropping off your bag is usually much more time consuming and complex than one would think. In this case it involved going inside, greeting all the family members, checking out the clothes on offer for sale by some guy who’s relation to the rest of the people there I still don’t get, getting updates from various sources via SMS about the current whereabouts of the President and best place to view him, having a bath, giving the kids a bath, getting changed, sussing out who else wants to come to see the president and finally, piling in the car.
It ended up being Jack and I, D and her 2 children, D’s sis-in-law M and what I thought were her 2 children, only to later find out that only one was hers. I still don’t know who the other little girl belonged to – I don’t get it. So we headed out to a village (muito perto – very close) – a short 20 minute drive away. We arrived there to find people everywhere, lined along the streets with flags, dancing and singing and so we went and got in on the action. An hour later… we were still waiting. At this stage I was so wishing that I too had taken time with my preparation and packed some water, sunscreen, another capulana (sarong thingy), some food and a few other essentials for a day out. We decided to go for a wander and sit down for a while (a while = approx one hour) then had to go on a mission to find a toilet. Soon after exiting the casa de banho, we heard the helicopters approaching signalling the arrival of the President. It really was quite exciting. I don’t think people see helicopters very often so there was a real buzz about that and we got to see the President pretty close up – worth the wait? I think Jack might say no, but overall it was a good experience.
So, we piled back in the car, headed back to D’s house to drop everyone off and finally head home for some lunch… or so I thought. When we got to D’s house she asked me (or so I thought) if I could drop her sis-in-law M and her (1) child off at the markets. “No worries!” I replied, the market is super close to our house, easy! So, turns out my Portuguese is not quite what I thought it was, either that or M pulled a swifty on me. We ended up going to her house – way, way past the markets deep in the maze of the Bairro. So I thought she was just picking something up and then we were off to the markets. Nope. We were invited in (poor Jack was still tagging along!) to meet more brother & sister-in-laws, sit around chatting (in a very limited fashion), eat some pumpkin, drink some (?contaminated) much needed water and arrange to catch up again. Then there was the awkward bean incident where I thought we were off to buy beans, turns out they wanted to give me beans. I realise now they wanted me to put the beans in my bag or my capulana – I didn’t get it and have ended up with one of their nice bags and promises to return it. And topped off with the awkward… Vamos? It turns out M wasn’t going to the market at all. She suggested I wait til her sis-in-law, who had secretly ducked off somewhere for a short while after getting all snazzed up, return so I could say goodbye. So after waiting to say goodbye, M very kindly accompanied me back to my side of the railroad, Phew – I’m sure I’ll still be doing circles in the Bairro otherwise. At one point on the trip home she said “Stop, just here!” It was her sister’s house! God had mercy on us though and we just stayed in the car with a through the window hello & goodbye.
Seven hours later… we were home.
I realise that a lot of that doesn’t make much sense… welcome to my life. Here are just a few of the questions that ran through my head today…
– what did he say?
-why was that man at their house selling clothes?
– who was that other small girl in my car and where were her parents?
– why did I put sunscreen on Jack and not myself?
– what’s going on here / what are we waiting for now?
– why are you giving me food but not eating yourself?
– should I drink this water?
– should I let Jack drink this water?
– what is a polite way to get out of here?
– please God, get us out of here?
– where am I?
– what did she say?
– how is it okay to not be seen by a dr for 24 hrs then discharged the next day when you have partial thickness burns to 10% of your body?
I am really looking forward to understanding things here a lot better. I’m kinda okay with the whole sitting around thing that people seem to be so fond of. I’m not very good at it, but I’m working on it. But it will be super nice to be able to do it without spending the entire time wondering – “Am I doing the right thing here, what does that mean, why is she doing that etc.” But it’s very early days 🙂
Awww. I’m sure u did great. Tell jack well done for hanging in there too. You’ll ‘get it’ more and more. If it’s any consolation I once jumped in the car to ‘just drop someone off’ without any shoes on – very bad move.
Keep writing about it. That’ll help you a lot and you may even get some questions answered somewhere down the line. Basically, you’re doing fine. In a way, you’re going through childhood again: born into another space and time, a big unknown before you, and a mind full of questions but not always knowing how to ask them.
At least all that shows that you’ve still got a good memory 🙂 as I would have forgotton the 1st half of the goings on by the end of the day!!
Aah! Kath, so much of that made so much sense to me I have teas of laughter running down my face. Only the faces I’m seeing are Bengali! And I remember the conflicted feelings of exhaustion, frustration and sort of intrigue and some appreciation for these people who take you in (and out and round about) and wondering how to do it a bit differently next time (good luck with that 😉
I know its meant to sound like your life is really crazy…. but i think it really interesting!!! love the read xx