Today, I flew from Delhi to Raipur, India. Once there, a Christian Hospital Mungeli ambulance picked me up along with Dr. Lisa and Shane Roberts from California. Shane is a nurse, technician, and loves photography like me and Lisa is a Social and Behavioral Sociologist at Loma Linda University doing research here on women who have had stillbirths, prevention, care and mental state afterwards. They are both fantastic!
The road from Raipur to Mungeli was INSANE and I am so indebted to the makers of Bonine motion sickness medicine! I don’t think I would have made it if it weren’t for that! Our driver, Arun is fabulous and carefully dodged people walking, carts, bicycles, motorcycles, cattle, water buffalo, and even monkeys (!!!) In addition, while I know firsthand that New Orleans roads and potholes are even worse than Charleston’s used to be and can truly swallow a car and several people….the road to Mungeli potholes can (and did) swallow whole trucks and take the rest of the road with it. There were a couple of times when I thought the ambulance jeep might fall over, but somehow it didn’t.
We stopped at a little roadside spot where there were a few shops and a line of people outside waiting to buy whatever was being cooked. Shane said it was probably samosas (? Triangle-shaped puffs with chic peas and potatoes inside), but instead, it was fvardas (sp?) which deceptively look like tasty oatmeal cookies and in reality were burning hot, spicy discs from the netherworld, full of chilis and onions and black magic. (Actually, I ate half of one and when the burning began to feel like I’d had three shots in a row of Romanian Tuica, I gave up, for the benefit of my esophagus.)
All along the way, I marveled at the green countryside, low, broken-down houses, rice fields, and the giant monkeys. About ¾ of the way there, the jeep broke down, but Arun and Shane fixed it. While they were fixing the car, I noticed the most intensely old and crumbly house a small distance away with two rather emaciated cows in the front. It looked like part of the brick abode didn’t have a roof. Then, I noticed a satellite dish. I started noticing them at many of the small, crumbling houses.
Once we arrived in Mungeli, we took out things into the guest house which is at the base of the hotel staff/doctor apartment. Every building around us looks awful and is in shambles. We met Kavita, our housekeeper and cook, who had a marvelous hot lunch for us. I remembered immediately after lunch to take my Doxycycline pill (to prevent Malaria). Then, we went to the hospital and met several people. Lisa showed me around a bit and then we met up with Shane at some chairs in an outside hallway. It was here that my body decided to reject the malaria pill and I started throwing up. Whee. First day and I am the one throwing up at a hospital. I went back to the guest house and luckily, it stopped pretty quickly. After a shower and some rest, I was ready to walk around in the evening and meet some more people as well as eat the chicken curry for dinner. I met Kahala Cannon as well. She is a dentist from Tennessee and had come last year, but decided to come back and stay for a year! I am really looking forward to tomorrow and meeting Dr. Henry as well as attending rounds, chapel, and classes!