Asante na kwaheri, Zanzibar

Now I have left Zanzibar. I feel kind of ambivalent about it. I am tired, actually very tired after a lot of work the last few weeks, and look forward to be able to relax. And I miss my closest back in Norway, so it will be very nice to see them again. But Zanzibar has also been a big part of my life for a while now, I have gotten to know a lot of nice people, and it is hard to leave the hospital, knowing that there are still so enormously many unsolved challenges there. So I think this will not be my last time in Zanzibar; I want to come back.

The last that happened before I took off from Zanzibar was both frustrating and a little funny, and in that respect it represented the conditions here very well: Carol and Gunn Elin (the two Norwegian nurses that I have very worked so close with in the hospital) drove me (and Vita, who works in the blood bank and was going home for her vacation) to the airport. The car was almost out of gas, and to avoid leaving the girls with a car with no fuel, I suggested filling gas just before arriving at the airport, so we stopped and got 20 liters. The minute we left the gas station I felt the car was behaving differently and exactly the moment we reached the airport the engine stopped. I have heard a lot of stories about people adding water in the fuel on Zanzibar, but it has never happened to me before, but I guess that was the problem. So this is Zanzibar at its worst.

But at the same time we got a demonstration of Zanzibar at its best: We didn´t even have to ask for help; the minute we started pushing the car (to get it out of the way for other cars), a big group of guys came to help us. I guess they did it both to be helpful and because they saw the opportunity of earning a little bit. And both of these things are also typical for Zanzibar. A taxi driver offered to drag the car to a garage, after some negotiation about the price Gunn Elin and Carol went off. I felt bad leaving them with a problem like that, but also this can be seen as a symbol of my departure from Zanzibar and Mnazi Mmoja Hospital: I feel a little bit guilty about leaving something so unfinished and feel that I am abandoning my nurses before our mission is completed. But to be honest; it will probably take many years before we are close to a result that we really can feel content with.

Transitions from one reality to another can be a challenge, especially when the realities in question are as different as the reality of Zanzibar and the reality of Norway. The last 8 months I have seen many things I never could have seen in Norway, I have experienced a lot, I have learned about a very different way of life and a complete different way of relating to stress, obligations, responsibilities and expectations to people around me. I have worked a lot and achieved something. I am actually completely exhausted, and very happy and thankful to know that the Peacecorps program includes a month off time to write reports and readjust to the home country. I can need that now, and I guess my understanding of Zanzibar will continue to evolve as I digest my impressions. So even though my stay in Zanzibar is over, the last post on this blog hasn´t been written quite yet.

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