Yesterday you met my two fabulous comrades in the pharmacy, but for the past week and for this week, we have a visitor, Sue. I'll post a photo of her as soon as I get one, but she's been helping out in the pharmacy and is a super trooper because she doesn't have a pharmacy background. It was a lot for me to take in when I first arrived, and I at least know some of the drugs and what they're used for. But Sue is picking everything up with style and grace and is so enthusiastic. The first time I took her with me to the wards to check meds, a group came to sing and worship while we were there. About halfway through, I could just see Sue swaying with the music, and pretty soon she just jumped right in and started dancing with the singing group. I was a) impressed that she could bust a move so well and b) impressed that she could dance so uninhibited. I was much more comfortable counting pills than praising, but I'm thinking by the time I leave, I might be able to join in as well. So since Sue is here, and you might have noticed that the pharmacy is a bit small, we're rotating these two weeks so everyone has 2 days off. And mine happened to fall last Friday and today, which means a 4 day weekend! Woo!
Friday morning, my friend Cathy and I went in search of fabric to bring home with us. We've been limited in our travel areas while demonstrations are going on, so we've been frantically searching for some fabric and dresses for Cathy to take back when she leaves Saturday. :( We found some great patterns in the Niger Market near the port, which is a collection of stands spanning several blocks. It's funny because stands selling similar items are often grouped together, so you go to one stand, negotiate a price, and then walk 2 feet to the next stand to negotiate some more, all in view of the original seller. I feel guilty sometimes when I only buy from one vendor, but each person has different patterns so it's really just about who has the pattern you like. But I really want to buy something from everyone so everyone wins. And that's how Beth is going to end up with $0 to her name when she returns home.
I think my favorite part of the Niger Market adventure was when a few kids (maybe teenagers-I always fail at the age guessing game. And the guess the number of jelly beans in a jar game. And the cake walk. Pretty much any fall carnival game is no good.) thought we wanted to find a tailor for our fabric, so we got a tour of the inner Niger Market with produce and animals and clothes and people everywhere. It reminded me of City Market in Indy, only more compact. The upper level is full of tailors with every possible thread and lace and bedazzlements possible. When we finally explained we were looking for more fabric rather than someone to sew fabric, the boy lead us back through the maze, but not before Cathy bought a plaid shirt for her dad, and out to the street. Later, when I was trying to explain where the Market was to another crew member, I burst out laughing, because my directions included the phrases, "you duck through tunnels with dim ceiling lights" and "you turn left at the chickens" and "you shimmy past a plantain stand before you hop up some stairs without knocking over the woman's head basket of peanuts." I'm pretty sure the inner market was actually a Harry Potter style Room of Requirement that won't exist if we try to find it again. It really felt like you needed a password and a map to even find your way to it. Or Jack Sparrows compass that doesn't point north.
Once we finally found our way back to the ship, it was time to go to the Hope Center. If patients come aboard ship for surgery, they often need to return for checkups/dressing changes. Since so many patients live far away, the Hope Center is an hotel/recovery area at a local hospital where our patients go when they are well enough to be in a hospital but will still need some care. The Mercy Ministries team has set up opportunities for crew to visit and play games/read stories/do crafts with the kids at the center. We brought the Noah's ark story with us and some boat cut-outs for decorating with animal stickers. (Shout out to Ashley for the fabulous sticker book she sent with me-the kids loved them.) The kids were great at listening to the story from the book and then translated into kreol (which is not the same as Haitian creole. I'm not sure how to describe it, but it takes the English words and adds a more interactive story with it. I'll try to ask someone and get an example soon). Martha, a girl I had met on the ward, found me right away and was my buddy for the day. She and I sat together for the story and craft, and afterwards, I made balloon animals with her. (Shout out to Dottie for showing me how to make swords and flowers and turtles.) Crowns, dogs, and flowers were the most popular items, though the balloons were popping almost as quickly as we were making things. Afterwards we went to a hallway with everyone and played catch with some beachballs. Mamie, another girl I recognized from the ward, joined us and soon some adults and the security guards were playing a group version of "think fast." It was hard to go after a few hours, but I hope to be able to come back soon. It's actually within walking distance of the ship, so I don't think I have to wait for Mercy Ministries to go.
After our busy day, it was nice to come back and rest for our trip to island on Saturday. See you tomorrow for 4 day weekend! Saturday edition.