Our final entry

by Paul

Well this blog is ending for me the same way it started…typing it up while enjoying the privilege of sitting in a Star Alliance lounge waiting to board our flight.  It’s amazing: the difference in my perspective now versus just three weeks ago.  The time has gone incredibly fast and yet so much has happened that I can’t believe it all occurred in only 3 weeks.

Yesterday was a nice completion of the circle, so to speak.  We started the day off with a very good discussion surrounding ultimately a very sad M&M case.  After which we had the chance to go back to the apartment and pack up.  Rwanda proved to us both what the rainy season is really like, yesterday, and how incredibly lucky we have been with the weather during this trip.  The sheer amount of water that fell from the sky was impressive and finally justified to me why there are gigantic rain drainage systems all over the country.

We got to see Emmy one last time and as always he had a hand in making sure our exit from the country was as smooth as our entrance.  We also got a very nice phone call from Mary and got to thank her again for her wonderful hospitality.   Lunch we had at the hospital, one last time, with Rob and Sean.  We got the Special (not “Spanish” as we first interpreted it) Omelette, which was eggs, fries (or chips as they like to call them), tomatoes, onions, and something that was either meat or very hearty mushrooms (but I think it was meat).  We of course had, what I originally thought was going to be our last Fanta.

Getting back to my completion of the circle comment, the wonderful opportunity I had to come on this trip first truly came to be when I was at my first monthly teleconference with Rwanda, but on the UVA side.  I can’t remember now what the topic was, but I remember being there watching one of the residents give a presentation and trying to imagine what it must be like where they were.  My only view of Rwanda at that point was part of a room in some random building in a country I had never seen.  The end of our day yesterday was a fantastic way to finish our time here.  Here I was on the other end of the teleconference, now with a much broader view of where the residents here are, what their situation is like, and even simply where the teleconference room is in relation to everything else (to my surprise it is on the top of a four story teaching institution that handles the lion’s share of medical education for all of Rwanda- I, for whatever reason, assumed it was on the ground floor of likely a relatively small building somewhere near the hospital).  It’s funny how your mind builds a framework to surround what you see and it’s quite an experience when that framework is utterly shattered and replaced with the truth.

We had to leave the conference a little early to get back to our apartment, grab our stuff and hit the road.  The driver, provided for us by CHUK, picked us up in a minibus, which was great because it was my first experience in one in Rwanda.  Luckily for us, it was not packed to the gills like every other minibus in town, there were only four of us in there (including the driver).

We made it safe and sound to the airport and through customs.  We then saw what was likely the only restaurant in the airport and decided to pause before going through security (a good thing too, because I’m pretty sure we wouldn’t have been able to get back if we wanted too).  Our last meal in Rwanda was a surprisingly good panini with beef and vegetables.   Naturally we had to have one more Fanta to go along with our meal before getting on the plane.

Our flight to Brussels was nice and quick, especially given the fact that I slept most of the way.  We made a quick stop in Nairobi to drop off some travelers and pick up a few others.  Shortly after take off from Nairobi I feel fast asleep.  The last thing I remember is them saying something overhead about dinner (chicken and rice and some other option I didn’t quite catch) and thinking to myself, I’m really glad we already ate.  I woke up sometime later to find a blanket nicely folded on my lap, I opened it up and quickly fell fast asleep again.

It’s been an amazing trip, one that I will never forget.  So much has happened, I am not sure I have processed it all yet.  This blog, however, went a long way in helping me do that.  I hope you enjoyed this blog as much as I surprisingly enjoyed writing it.

I’ll end with a favorite quote of mine from J.R.R. Tolkien: “He used often to say there was only one Road; that it was like a great river: its springs were at every doorstep, and every path was its tributary. ‘It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out of your door,’ he used to say. ‘You step onto the Road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there is no knowing where you might be swept off to.'”

While it may be dangerous, it is also incredibly fun.  I hope when we next meet it will be somewhere completely unexpected.


3 thoughts on “Our final entry”

  1. Thanks very much for your very interesting description about your Ruanda trip.
    Do it again!

    Max Stern Hanf
    formerly Anenesthesiologist, The Hague, Netherlands

      1. Paul, I am an anesthesiologist trying to help a NGO with the ability to do C-sections literally in the middle of a jungle. There are too many variables to post here, but I would like to discuss options with you or see if you know anyone in the organization mentioned in your blog who has been able to accomplish this elsewhere in similar circumstances. Thanks for your time and good on you for your efforts.

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