Evolution of an Adventure

Evolution of an Adventure....

10/23/11 Greetings! Welcome to my Nursing in Nepal blog! In May, 2012, I'll be graduating from San Jose State University's School of Nursing and in early June I'll be leaving for three weeks in Nepal along with SJSU faculty and other nursing students to provide nursing care to women and children in Nepal and I need your help to get there! Our team will be providing wellness exams, vaccination clinics, and health education in Kathmandu and other villages in the Kathmandu Valley. My goal is to raise $5,000, which will cover a significant portion of this trip. I realize that the current economy is making life difficult for all of us. Any amount contributed is appreciated as each dollar gets me closer to an opportunity to help disadvantaged families while building my skills as a nurse and caretaker.

I'll be updating this blog with amusing tales of adventures in preparing for international travel and, once there, I'll be documenting my experience with photos and stories as much as the available power supply will allow! Subscribe to my blog and please join me on my adventure in Nursing in Nepal! I welcome your comments, questions and insights through this amazing journey.

12/8/11 I have just received the uber disappointing news that the nursing trip to Nepal has been canceled as political unrest has put Nepal on the State Department's watchlist and the university won't let us go. While it will be incredibly difficult to quit dreaming Nepalese dreams, I am unshaken from my determination to take an equally awesome nursing trip after graduation. I just have to figure out where and how. So, I'll do some research in the hopes of finding another exciting opportunity off the beaten path and apply my passion and your generosity there. If I can't find anything within a few months, I will refund your donations. Thank you again for your support and stay tuned!

Next stop...

1/6/12 It's on like Donkey Kong! So, a bit of change... turns out I'll be going to the Edna Adan Hospital in Hargeisa, Somaliland. It is a midwife-led clinic and I'll be staying in a guestroom at the clinic (which I hope isn't code for hospital bed) and I will share more details as soon as I have them. When the trip to Nepal was canceled, I was heart broken, crestfallen and downright bummed. I had just long enough to think about it all that I had created an idea in my head of the adventure that I was going to have there. After a few hours of being sad girl, I said to myself "Self, you can still have an adventure somewhere. You'll just have to figure it out for yourself." According to ProWorld, their projects in Nepal are still on, so that was still a possibility, but a very expensive possibility. No different than when the school trip was on, but as long as my adventure options are open, why not find something equally mind blowing for a bit less money? I emailed a doctor who spoke to my nursing class about the Fistula Foundation (www.fistulafoundation.org) and asked if any of the clinics they support in Africa might be willing to take a new grad nurse for a few weeks this summer. An email turned into a conference call which turned into me going to Somaliland!

Side note to any nursing students who might be reading this: clinic placement is not the regular domain of the Fistula Foundation. I lucked into a formal introduction, but you can contact the Edna Adan University Hospital directly for service options.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Amsterdam was lovely and interesting for the short time I was there. I'll try to post the couple of pictures I took there soon.  My flight to Dubai left late and we were held up with traffic on arrival, so we were deposited some distance from a terminal and got bused in.  That's when things got a little crazy. I was afraid that I was late for my connection and had to get my bag transferred over still since it was a different airline that I couldn't check in to until getting to Dubai. Thanks to a very helpful information agent who personally delivered me to the hidden ticketing desk for my  airline, I was able to get everything taken care of in time. As it turns out, things in Africa run on a much looser schedule since vehicles and conditions cannot always be counted on.  My confirmed itinerary had me scheduled to depart at 2am, but the flight wasn't actually scheduled to leave until 4am.  My relief for not missing my flight, combined with a heavy realization of the miles between me and home, on top of the hours I'd been awake (probably ~30at that point) all combined to create the perfect storm and I had a bit of a melt down.  I felt so alone and so far away from anything I know and I had a bit of a cry.  I was doing a mediocre job of keeping a lid on it as it was, but then I got to chatting with a couple of friendly folks in the queue to go to Somalia and they asked where my husband was and, consequently, some very nice men talked me down from the real melt down. I was so exhausted and so overwhelmed by the enormity of what I was doing and was starting to w   onder what I'd gotten myself into. Thanks to one of these men (sadly, I'm bad enough at remembering names and all of these foreign names are a near lost cause for me), my trip to Africa was made much easier.  His helpful and friendly nature, always finding something to laugh at, helped me to shake off my freak out and get down with the experience.  The experience started with us being herded out to a couple of buses, driven out to a distant corner of the airport, where we were loaded onto a plane, the likes of which I haven't been on since maybe 1980 and the plane would have been old then. By this point, I've forgotten that I ever had a space bubble, the aroma I smelled most likely came from me, and my butt was so sore from the 2 previous flights that all I could think of was finishing the last leg of the trip without an ice pack (though, honestly, the seats on the antique 737 were more comfortable than the 2 modern KLM crafts).

Little did I know... we flew into Berbera because the Hargeisa airport is closed for renovations.  I stepped off of the plane and immediately thought "this just looks like Mexico". Ha.  Right.  Mexico would be close to home. The "international airport" (the banner said "Welcome to Berbera International Airport") was one small stucco building, where secured my visa and changed my 40 American dollars for 6,500 shillings (or the equivilent of $1.  Not a very fair trade in my opinion, but I think they need the money more than I do), and joined the fracas going on in the baggage area.  Yes, my bag was there, but it had to be loaded on top of the "bus" with the rest of the bags. And the wind, oh the wind! While I waited for my bag to be loaded, I enjoyed looking out on a landscape as barren as one can imagine.  In the near distance, there lay a cargo plane which apparently didn't make the run way and was on its belly becoming a part of the landscape. The friend I'd made in Dubai was busy keeping an eye out for me and making sure I was ok. If I hadn't met him, I don't know if I would have made it this far on my own. I may well have chickened out and gotten my bag and myself right back on the antique and gone home.

The bus ride to Hargeisa to several hours over trecherous roads. I doubt that we got much over 25mph most of the way, got stuck in the sand once where recent rains had washed riverbed over the short bridge, and my already sore butt was crying  out in agony over the rock polisher of a ride. At this point, I'd been awake for nearly 40 hours. When we finally arrived in Hargeisa, I found that I was the spectacle du jour, despite my modest clothes and head scarf. Small children and beggars approached me with their hand out looking for money, not a handshake. My airport friend came here to visit family.  His uncle just happens to be the former Vice President of Somaliland. The former VP was kind enough to drive me to the hospital - another blessing.

Once arrived, I was shown to my room - a perfectly nice small room with a wardrobe to put my things in and a private bathroom with a western toilet. I had lunch and then retired back to my room where I promptly fell asleep.

Sleep.  Yet another thing  I've taken for granted that I thought I had so appreciated.  You asolutely canNOT possible truly appreciate sleep until you visit a Muslim region and find that the call to prayer begins 5, unless of course there is a pre-call to wake everyone up in time for  the 5am prayer.  The precall is at 4.  That didn't much matter this morning though because I was awake at 3am.


  1. You go, girl!!!! So proud of you!!!!! YOU ROCK!!!! I think I wouldn't have made as far as planning to go to Africa.

  2. Britta--I am living vicariously through you! So glad you made it to Somaliland - the adventure of a lifetime! Can't wait for your next post, after you have adjusted to the time and sleep pattern changes!
    Have a great time!