A little disappointing to be sure. The water just goes straight down. Must be the way they are made down here. But for all of you who were so curious as to whether the water swirls in the opposite direction in the Southern Hemisphere than it does in the Northern Hemisphere after a flush, I may just have an answer for you. Well, an estimated guess, really. After my shower, I noticed that the water was swirling down into the floor drain… counter-clockwise. So… the same as back home, unfortunately. I was really hoping it would be the opposite, too.
So, yesterday was a dual-hemisphere day… we started in the north and ended in the south. We can verify, however, that there is a big yellow line that marks the position of the equator. Thankfully, the trip from Libreville to Bongolo was not near as bad as expected. The plane was small, but sturdy. The flight was bumpy at times, but overall smooth. We had six traveling companions, a work team to Bongolo from the U.S. And I slept through most of it anyway, well at least the plane ride, due to the anti-motion sickness meds I took.
When we arrived at the Mouila Airport we were immediately greeted by Carolyn from the hospital who had driven out to meet us. We took two trucks back to the hospital, but not before stopping at a local Mouila shop for some soda and a pastry. It was at the shop that one of the women on the work team realized she had left her passport in the bathroom at the airport, which by the way is NOT a good idea if you ever want to get back home. We doubled back to the airport, though it was around 4 p.m. and the airport had just closed for the day. Fortunately, there was someone still on duty outside who went in to check, and sure enough found it in the ladies’ room. Whew!
The drive lasted about two and a half hours, and took us on a red dirt road, full of potholes that could eat a tire. There was enough good road, though, that we could avoid most of them. It was amazing to drive through the African countryside, and often right by African homes that were nothing more than rusted steel leaned up together, and to see the Gabonese people going about their daily routines. Many of the people were very friendly, and upon seeing us in the vehicles, would wave a “bonjour.” We also got to have some good conversation with Carolyn, Lisa… a young doctor from Chicago, and Dave… the pastor of one of Saddleback’s satellite churches around LA. We pressed Dave for a few Rick Warren stories, which he gladly shared with us. So cool!
It was dark by the time we arrived and also time for dinner. So we found the guesthouse, unloaded our stuff, met our new roommate Amy, and headed over for a delicious spaghetti dinner at the Foyer House. We have been getting spoiled on meals here so far! We also met Dr. John Francis, a surgeon from Lafayette, IN who is over here for a couple weeks filling in for the attending surgeons who are at a conference in Kenya.
Today we caught up on our sleep a bit, then headed into Lebamba, the neighboring town with Amy and two of the hospital staff to walk around and buy some groceries from the Lebamba “Walmart” (really just an open air store with about five aisles of packaged foods). Most of the stores are operated by Muslims from countries in North Africa. We saw the tailor and the new Barack Obama cafe and pub. Being the only white people in the town did get us some stares, but most of the people are friendly, and I supposed they are used to seeing some white people now and then because of how close the hospital is.
We just finished up lunch consisting of canned chicken sandwiches (mmmm), clementines, and pringles. Now it’s off to the pool… a perfect refresher on such a hot day. It is nice in the shade, though. We will have church tomorrow down at the hospital, then begins the work week. Meghan will start on Monday, and I will hopefully spend next week getting a feel for what I can use my design talent to help out with, as well as assisting the work team that is here. I’ve also chosen to wait a bit on taking pictures or video, until I get a better sense for the culture. Please pray for a clear sense of direction and purpose for both of us in the coming week, and for boldness in interacting with the people here. The language is very challenging and a limiting factor for me right now.