Jack, get back, come on before we crack. Lose your boots, everybody cut footloose.
Monday means a new week and a new ward for me, the Dealer, the Bodyguard and Lillspättan. This time is also means the very last week. The last week at Mumhimbili Hospital and the last week in Dar Es Salaam. This last days will be spent at the Emergency for me and Frida, while Jenny and Anton will follow our footsteps in Main Theatre and ICU. And I know for a 100 procent that at least two of us are happy about the switch.
Anton and Jenny had a though week at the Emergency Department. (I feel really stupid writing about it since I wasn't there, but I tried to make them guest-blog here without success...) For the really first time they felt neglected as soon as they said they were nursing students, not doctors. Which sucks. And they also experienced their first death. A death that in a Swedish hospital could have been avoided. It had been wrong from beginning until end. They also got to go home earlier one day cause one of the patients in a room had active TBC. Which was information that they got after they had already been inside the room. A room that the patient also shared with three burn victims, that had burns on 60% of their body surface. Upset at the whole organisation is one word describing their feelings.
I and Frida on the other hand quite enjoyed Main Theatre. It was the first place where one didn't get any supervisor at all. We were out on our own. And it actually worked out really well. We could walk around a little bit of everywhere and see the operations we found interesting. There was also no need to stay for a full operation but could come in after they started and go before they had closed up. We could do a little as we pleased. And we took our chances to observe as many operations as possible.
It was mostly tumour extractions of different kinds. One on the esophagus, one on the lower jaw bone (mandibular), one gastric or intestines, one lung cancer on a 1 year old child and, the one that was most disturbing to watch, a malignt melanoma.
A lady came in and sat on the operationtable. We thought that meant that they would remove a birth mark from her back or so. Not really anything superinteresting to watch, and we were about to head out, when we realised that they gave her spinal anaesthesia. So it wasn´t a birth mark. It was actually on her right heel. And it was a biggie. Underneath the whole heel was just a cancer wound. Covering the sole of her heel. And to take it away they basically peeled the heel off. All of it. Deep. Into the heel bone. That they after had to file down so it wasn't all pointy under there. And once the whole heel was off, they just put bandages on. Done. I dont understand how that will be able to heal ever again.
Last week we finished our placements at the Pediatrics and Maternity wards. On our last day we gave the teddybears, that Jenny brought, away to the children at the oncology ward and burn unit (and to two of the staff... It was all kind of strange). That it the first time I ever experienced a smile that gave me goosebumps. And we all felt the same.
Okey, so we saw some terrifying stuff the last day at the burn unit. Burn injuries on babies is quite common here since the kids have no place to play except from where the family cook dinner. Where it often is a fire on the ground. According to Swedish guidlines a burn injury that is over 10% of the total body surface need to be taken care of at a hospital, a burn on more than 20% of the body is severe. In all of Sweden it is about 250 people (in all ages) that have burn injuries that counts as severe and need to be sent to a specialisation unit, that we only have in Linköping and Uppsala. Here there were at least 30 kids on the ward and the most of them hade over 30% of the body surface sculled. And there were new patients coming everyday to this ward that was a burn unit, though other than the name, nothing was specialised for the patients.
We went with the doctors on the rounds and got to here some incredibly sad stories. All of them started with children playing and having fun and ended with severe burns, pain, in some cases, even amputation. We were also allowed inside the dressing room where they dressed the wounds. Some got new dressing daily and some every third day or so. But all of them were screaming and crying loud. No wonders. We only saw one of the patients getting analgesia. And that was orally, right before the dressing started, meaning that there is no way that it would have kicked in. In Sweden they sometime even anaesthetize the patients before dressing cause no painkiller is enough. None of us could stay in the room for long.
But now it is a new week, with new possibilites and new experiences to take in on Emergency and Main Theatre Departments.
Sugar man, wont you hurry, cause I'm tired of these scenes.
Monday. New week, new opportunities and, here in Dar Es Salaam, it means a new ward on our internships. This week we have switched. Frida and Anton will enjoy a week at Kangaroo Mother Care while me and Jenny will try our wings in Pediatrics.
We started at the intensive care ward where we arrived at 08:40. At 08 the doctors were supposed to be there, but when we came they still hadn't showed up. And until the doctors had visited and checked the children none of the nurses could do anything. So for about two hours we sat there, looking through journals and waiting. What's interesting is that even though people are not fluent in English, the work-language is English. Everything is written in English. Everything has to be documented in English. All their education is also in English. Our English skills, that we Swedes usually are so proud of, is hardly enough when it comes to all this medical language. But still we are the only ones really speaking.
After two hours of not really doing anything at all we went for walk in the building. Greeting everyone we met with a Mambo or Jambo. There was not really anything at all going on. It looked like the whole 2nd floor was only waiting for the doctors to arrive. The biggest happening was when a cleaning lady opened the door on me while peeing on the squatting toilets. When the door flung wide open all I cried out was "Nooo" while my desperate eyes met with a mother to a patient 10 metres away. She probably saw everything. Everything of me. At least the incident made it possible for me to use the one swahilian phrase I feel comfortable with but never get to use. When the cleaning lady met me outside later she said "sorry, sorry", and I: "Hakuna matata".
After two hours of flipping through papers a nurse took us to the basement and practially threw us in in a renal ward, where there were rows of patients recieving heamodialysis. Not Jenny nor I had seen this treatment before which made the time until lunch truly fly. (And for once we timed our lunch with the others!) When we got back from lunch one of the doctors was there, but when we left he still hadn't written the plan for the day.
It's hard to remember that we are not here on holiday. We didn't travel to Tanzania for it's wide beaches and blue sea and staying under an umbrella all day. Nope.
We are here on our internships. We go to the hospital, we go to our different wards and we see what we can see and maybe do what we are asked to do. It can be when a nurse-in-training (here they apparently study nursing for 4 years and then have like 1 year working/doing internship-ish) just hands you the gear and says "I want to see if you can do this". And you prove him that you actually do know how to administer intravenous drip. Or it can be a nurse who worked with premature babies for three years, who puts peripheral venous catheter in their hardly visible veins like nothing, and asks "You want to try?". And you look at the baby next to her, with a weight on barely 1090 grams, and you feel just, naaaaaaah. Maybe not.
It's been a week now. A internship-week at the hospital and seven days in Tanzania. And it's our first weekend off. And it's been a Saturday well spent.
I repeat my mantra. I'm not here on holiday. We didn't travel to Tanzania for it's wide beaches and blue sea and staying under an umbrella all day. Nope.
I'll take your part when darkness comes and pain is all around.
It was our first evening when we stayed out a bit a longer. It wasnt even that late. We had been to Tanzanias biggest market and looked for a restaurant on our way home. Here no restaurants open before 18:30 and we had to sit and wait on some stairs before a buffet we had walked by opened. Then, when it was time we were the first ones to devour it.
Full of food, happy and pleased we walked home. The one kilometre left felt easy peasy and with jokes like "wooo we never been up this late" and, when entering our neighbourhood Upanga "we made it! We are safe!". All statements followed up with supportive laughter. Little did we know.
We had just walked by a few guards that greeted us and asked "How are youuuu?". We were just about to cross the street. We were just about to enter the street we live on. We were about 50 metres away from home. When suddenly all we see is a car.
Or, from my point, all I saw was a car driving sooooo close I thought it was about to run over Anton and Frida, who had to jump away. The next thing I hear is a scream from Jenny. The next thing I see is how a man, halfway out through the car window, grabbing something and how Jenny's somehow almost following with the movement of the car. Next thing I see is Jenny standing free with only the strap of her bag in her hands.
The car steps on the gas, takes a turn and races out of sight. In the same moment the guards, that only seconds ago greeted us, understands a piece of what is happening and starts running after the car. One with his baton out and ready. Though they soon saw that the battle was already over and lost.
The whole scenario was over in under a minute. It all happened so fast. And the four of us just stood there, on the side of the road, completely frozen. Not comprehending what had just happened. People started coming up to us, asking about what had happened and what we had lost. Saying that it was a shame but also something that occurs pretty often. And we just stood there.
When we got home we started blocking her phone, the bank ID and the logistics. We also realised that Jenny was the one carrying the keys to our room. Where we really have all our stuff. So, after a way too adrenalinpumped night Frida made the couches into beds for me and Jenny. And with a pill from our dealers secret stash we soon fell asleep, despite the heat, the nerves and the squeaking leather of the couches.
The next day we were supposed to have our second day on our internship at the hospital. Instead Jenny and I had to stay home. Waiting for a locksmith that our host had arranged to come and fix the door at 10.
Until, finally, a man named Mustafa (aka "the locksmith") came. He arrived around noon. Came inside the apartment. Wondered if we had tried all the spare keys. Felt the door. Then said he would be back with a carpenter since they would have to break the door in nicely, without destroying it. The carpenter were currently at the hospital but will come around 14:00.
So we continued to wait. And realised how little one can do when you can't leave the apartment and have nothing cause all is locked up in your room. When Anton and Frida finally came home it was to a bored and somewhat bitter company. Though we had made a dance. When they got home we switched so Jenny and I could go out for some lunch. And with food and a drink/beer later- life seemed a bit easier.
When we got back to the apartment life was even better. We arranged with a movie, coffee, chocolate and Ahlgrens bilar while waiting for the carpenter. And waiting isn't too bad sometimes.
Finally help came. Theý broke the door in. And we could finally reach our stuff, brush our teeth and change our clothes. Which is a welcoming thing to do when it's at least 30 degrees outside, and same or more indoors.
So in the end, all is well. Jenny has some warrior-bruises and I believe we all are a bit traumatized over the happening. The worst part is that our photographer lost her camera.
It means no worries, for the rest of our days, it's a problem-free philosophy, hakuna matata.
Five days in Tanzania somehow feels like weeks in Sweden. So warm, so sweaty, so many new impressions, so much people and so much Swahili. On the streets we can't go anywhere without hearing a "Mambo!", "Jambo!", "Rafiki!", "Mzungo!" or *insert any swahilian word that I don't know*. In rare occasions we also get a "Hello". Or, if you're Anton, you get a "Oh Big man".
We have begun our internships at Muhimbili National Hospital (MNH). First day was all administration and paper work and pay for our stay. Second day was a whole lot of waiting. Waiting for out contact person to show up. Waiting for him to finish his work to show us around. Waiting for him to talk to the people in charge on the wards to let us be there. Waiting for someone to talk to us. To let us know where to go or what to do.
We have wished for the wards we will be having internship at. During our weeks we will be visiting Maternity Kangaroo Mother Care Ward (KMC), Pediatrics, Emergency Department and Main Theatre/ICU. Jenny and I have started at the KMC and Anton and Frida at the Pediatrics ward. We both spent about two hours at the wards one the first day. And, I can only speak for myself, but after two hours at KMC we felt as if we had seen it all. The moms spent their days laying in bed with their small children in the chest. Only feeding every third hour. And not really doing anything else. BUT we have more days to come so maybe we will be proven wrong. Anyway it is interesting and fascinating to see these small children, weighing no more than 1kg.
Frida and Anton seems a bit more pleased at the Pediatrics ward where they get to see different diseases. Though they don't get any explanations of how they treat them or really what they do with the sick children. Other than that almost a third of them dies.
Today was supposed to be the second day for the four of us at MNH. But instead two of us had to stay home all day waiting for a locksmith. Which is another story.
I bless the rains down in Africa, gonna take some time to do the things we never had.
Couldn´t have said it better myself, thank you Toto for finding words with a rhythm. And folks, suddenly it happens. Not only am I (once again) doing a new attempt to blog but I (once again) have left Sweden and my comfort zone. This time for Tanzania and four weeks at a hospital in Dar Es Salaam. And not any hospital but the hospital that travel books and the locals recommend anyone who is sick to avoid. To not go to. To not seek help there. That’s where I, Jenny, Frida and Anton decided to spend our second to last internships during our studies. Another party of friends are currently in the same country but at another destination. They are in Moshi, which I have no clue how to spell or pronounce, but somewhere close to Kilimanjaro. The eight of us will later meet up on Zanzibar to discuss and exchange experiences, catch up on sun, swimming and, if wi-fi allows, Game of Thrones.
It’s been a few years since last time I wrote but I will, once again, do an honest attempt to share mine and my fellow travelers experiences. So that anyone of you back home that are interested and way too curious to wait for the powerpoint-show can be up to date. And some of you may question why I write in English. I could say it´s all about how English is a much more creative language where one can really paint a picture with words compared to Swedish. It could be that reason. Or, it could be that I bought this mini-pc in a small store in Bolivia and therefore the keyboard is missing some of the swedish letters.
Anyway, let me present the crew I am sharing this experience with. We have Frida, a happy girl from Stockholm who has been up to a little bit of everything before she started nursing studies. She has been traveling through Russia, Mongolia, India and more on her own. Also she’s studied some criminology. And much more. She is one of those friends that keeps on dropping new facts about herself all the time. In Dar Es Salaam she has currently taking the part of our personal yoga teacher. And our dealer. For this trip she got a whole bunch of pills against anything and everything from her doctor parents and gladly shares them.
Jenny, also brought stuffs to share. She brought 15 stuffed animals in her luggage that we will be able to give to children. A few of them also served us quite well as neck pillows on the airplanes and uncomfortable chairs in Addis Abeba. She has been backpacking through Australia, New Zealand and fallen off her motorbike in Thailand. Also she knows almost all the names of different yoga poses and eagerly learns the unknown. On our trip she has so far taken the only place as photographer. After only two days here she is by far the person with the most pictures taken. It probably will be a few of her pictures shown later on in this blog.
Anton is the one who probably get the most attention down here. He is blonde, almost 2 meters tall and looks like our bodyguard. At least if you should ask the man who fixed us ID-cards at the hospital. He has been backpacking through Asia, interrailing in Europe and eaten noodles for almost every day when he was in Austrailia. He is not a big fan of selfie-sticks and completely froze when I in January put on my safari-hat and said I got the whole trip figured out.
We live in an AirBnb-apartment owned by an Abdul. It is close to the hospital and today we also found a nearby pool where one can go and cool down after internship-hours. Today was our first day at MUHAS, Muhimbili University of Health and Allied Sciences, where we arrived one hour late but still earlier than our contact person and fixed all paper work. Tomorrow the real adventures begin when we will put on our scrubs and do our first day at the Muhimbili National Hospital.
So we bought a pack of cigarettes and Mrs Wagners pie and walked off to look for America.
When we arrive at the border crossing between Serbia and Bulgaria it is just before eight o'clock in the morning but it feels as it has hardly passed two am. It has been a long and strange train ride. It is the second night train on this trip and we thought it couldn't get any worse after the first one, but oh, how wrong were we.
I arrived in Slovenia a Sunday night after a crazy and awesome weekend in Gothenburg at Way out West with a sister and a best friend. (I know I haven't told you, but well, I have hardly told you anything lately soooo.. For now let's just tell you the whole weekend was awesome in all kinds of ways, music, weather, people, food, drink. Awesome. Awesome awesome awesome.) The flight with AirSerbia was almost an hour late but even though it was closing in on midnight there was a minibus for the city centre. Soon I found myself in the arms of Isolde, and she in mine. The day after Sean arrived and my interrailing with them would finally begin!
After two days in Ljubljana, Slovenia where we went to a water park, to a castle and strolled around the very small city centre, we jumped on a night train to Belgrade, Serbia. It was a six person compartment we were three and it looked as if we would get the entire one for ourselves. Until we came to Zagreb. Three friendly British girls joined in and it was full, basically just feet and heads everywhere. Even though it was hard to find a comfortable position, this wasn't the worst. But just when you found yourself a good spot, maybe had just drifted away or were about to, someone came, knocked on your shoulder and you were asked to show your ticket. Or passport. Or ticket. Or passport. Or ticket again. When we arrived in Belgrade we were tired, hungry and grumpy.
Well, all we needed was a few more hours of sleep in the hostel, were they even gave us the beds a bit earlier, and a breakfast/lunch. Then we felt human again and took a walk around the city. For once it wasn't railning and we saw the city centre and the Belgrade fortress in just a few hours.
The day after we weren't quite as lucky with the weather. After a very relaxing morning and breakfast we got out and were about to start a 40min walk to another part of Belgrade that were supposed to be completely different because way back in time it belonged to another country, Austria-Hungary. After five minute walk the sky opened up, heavy rain started pouring down, flooding the streets along with thunder and lightning. We found shelter in a kind mans photocopy-store where we played some games waiting for the weather to ease up.
It kind of did so we went out, got extremely wet and bitter, but some chocolate and Disney songs lightened up the mood, soon also the sky. And Zemun was worth the stroll. The former city was completely different from Belgrade with low houses and small alleys that we actually appreciated even when the energy faded away. A picnic lunch outside a small church watching pigeons everyday lives on the square prepared us for the walk back where we took a short stop at a beer festival. There we could hear a Serbian cover band singing "We will, we will, SHIT YOU!" Before we moved along and finally went on our night train for Sofia.
Now, we are well aware that we have been cheap, trying to save some money and not booked a sleeping cabin on any of the night trains. And we know that there would be some hard nights, a night train is never easy. But, when we entered the train 462 to Sofia we didn't know if to laugh or cry when we saw our seats. They weren't even real seats. It was three next to each other, along one side of the train with seats that bounced back if it was no weight on them. Good seats or not, we at least got front view of the Serbians or Bulgarians that went into the space between the wagons for a smoke, or a bit of fresh air. In the middle of the ride, while the train was still in motion, they could just open up one or two of the doors out. We thought some of them were about to jumped off the train, but no. The action ended with the door, opening and closing again and again.
Finally we got a few hours of sleep, the train was fairly empty and we could split up, having two real seats each. I was pretty delirious from sleep when I gave and took my passport from the border police. Trying to be friendly I even said a thank you, but in Swedish, which led to some confusion with the police who stopped in the middle of his movement and looked at me. A girl with hair standing in all directions, so tired that she didn't understand that she was speaking in her own mother tounge, a language not many border polices in Eastern Europe master.
It was a long night, but, in the end we eventually arrived in Sofia, Bulgaria. Only to realise they have their own currency and NOT euros like Belgium, which I apparently have completely mixed Bulgaria with.. So time for the town and an ATM to get some cash.
Wave out to the crowd, take your final bow, least you stole the show.
Almost a half year ago I found myself in the kitchen of the Buonsanti brothers in Oslo. After a few wrong turns and some ice-slipping I found their apartment which I had only visited once before on another dinner. It's really fancy to have so many friends who likes to cook and don't mind to cook for you, when you self hate it. They make some dinner and I bring some drink. Usually this drink is glögg, but this time I went for wine.
Carmine had made us some homemade pasta with tomato sauce and we had finished the bottle of wine and started on some martini when his older brother Giuseppe came home. After the normal gossiping about the company where we worked together and about the people we knew, we started talking about us. I thought I would have something to bring to the table, with me moving, starting studies and all. But that didn't seem to matter when Giuseppe came with his. He got married. "We only had small ceremony now and then we have big wedding and party in Italy in summer, you should come! Will be in august!" What swede, or any nationality for that matters, would say no to this?
Later, after the rainy and cold spring, the summer came even though it was still rainy and cold. And somewhere in June an invitation to a wedding in the southern parts of Italy fell in through my mailbox.
I never thought that southern Italy would be a problem to reach, nor to leave, but as it turns out you need quite some time. For me it would take about 26hours to reach my final destination, and then I had travelled by train, airplane, train, bus and car. But before 8 in the morning I would arrive in Carmines car in Montescaglioso, exactly where I had been four years earlier when me and a group of friends went to visit them. It looked exactly same and what just as hot.
The wedding would take place on Saturday the 8th. This is a day I will always remember. Not only for the wedding, but for the amount of food and cakes I consumed in only one day. It started already at the breakfast in the B&B where I stayed the night from Friday to Saturday. I came down after a good nights sleep, looked forward for breakfast and had completely forgotten that breakfast in Italy isn't whole wheat bread, yoghurt with musli or porridge. It is sugar. In all its forms. I got a croissant, which isn't too bad, but then she had made a whole, huge chocolate cake, only for me. I had to take two pieces and refuse her on the third, when she came out with a new cake, with which she wouldn't take no for an answer. When later I came to the Buonsanti house it was time to take pictures, drink and eat some cake, I passed on the cake.
Now, I am no expert in Italian weddings, but there is one thing that I know that you must have. Patience. There is no such thing as time. The ceremony in the old church in the centre of the city would start at 10:30 it said on the invitation. By that time we hadn't even left the house. But with or without keeping the schedule there was things to be done and organised up until the very last minute. When there was nothing I could help with I focused on the air conditioning and keeping my sweat-rate at a minimum.
Even though the ceremony was about an hour late, crazy hot inside the church and a little confusing about when we were supposed to stand up or sit down it was beautiful. And when the lady by the or gel sang Ave Maria, I got chills.
We threw some rice, got into cars with wrapping on and went on a parade through Montescaglioso, horning, shouting all the way. Then we left, we out into the country side and to the resort where the party was to be held. There it was a big room with 13-15 round tables spread out in it, next to a band, dance floor and "welcome cocktail" areas. My seat was at the Stoccolma table (Stockholm table). It was me, a fellow swede, three Norwegians and a Russian. Neither me nor the other swede were from Stockholm.
Then, like I already told you, there was food. And food. And food. And, oh my god, food. We sat down from 15 to 23 and ate. Welcome cocktail, first starter, second starter, antipasti, second antipasti, main course, second main course ... And so on. I have never in my adult life had a dinner where I have used as many forks as I did there. It just never stopped coming. There were even two deserts! And you know the worst part of it all? It was all delicious.
When you thought the party would end it turned out to have only just begun. Before midnight the open bar opened, as well as the pool and the cigar/rum lounge. I could probably speak forever about this wedding, and I almost already have, so I will only tell you one thing more. There was even a clown for the children.
BIG congratulations to Guiseppe and Elena and huge thanks that I got to share this day with you!
But the tigers come at night, with voices soft like thunder. As they tear your hope apart, and turn your dream to shame.
Yesterday I jumped on my bike after another hard fitness session with my rubgy team, Uppsala RFC, and was contemplating with myself whether I should stop by the store on the way home to buy some food (read: chocolate). It has been like a thursday routine: kill yourself at the training (with spinning as hard as you can, run faster than never before and lift heavier than ever) and then stop by ICA and reward myself with, if I am going to be completely honest, way too much chocolate.
One time I was sticking to my routine, in the beginning of March, and I was completely destroyed after that days session. After buying my normal amount of chocolate I went out and started to unlock my bike when nothing happened. The key did not move. I started to struggle, using my finger strength (hardly exsisting) and arms (that were still shaking of exhaustion) but nothing happened. It was impossible to turn the key around. I stood there, right by the entrance of the store, struggling, for about 20 minutes without getting anywhere. People were passing by, looking at me, but once I lifted my head to ask for help their stares went straight down into the concrete of the street, pretending not to notice. I was so tired that I was close to crying, not far away from just giving it all up and walk home, when my savior came.
It was the beggar, who always sat with a blanket around himself outside the entrance of the store. He came up to me, without knowing hardly one word of english, and started to struggle with the lock himself. After a few minutes, and curses in a, to me, unknown language he finally got the lock up. I was free. Not having any cash on me, nor a cigarette which he asked for, we went inside and he could choose whatever food he preferred while I paid. Now, on my thursday routines, after training and buying massive amounts of chocolate (yes, the amount is growing everytime I mention it) I always make sure I have some change, more than just a few crowns, to spare this man. I dont even think he recongizes me, but I truly am forever grateful. Even if it was just for a lock on a bicycle.
I do love to live in Sweden, and feel priviliged that I were so lucky to be born in a nation with free education, health care and all, but sometimes I am just ashamed of the swedish mentaliy. I have been travelling some as you might know, and everywhere I have gone people have been friendly, not hesitating to help you. Last week I was in New York with my wonderful old friends and Frida, one of them and whom I have known since we were six, was amazed of how friendly the new yorkers/americans were. Cause in Sweden, if you accidentaly bump into a person a sorry is not obligated (while it still is polite) and you avoid in everyway talking to strangers. I know we live in the northern hemisphere with a pretty cold climate but does that mean that we have to be cold people too?
Cause all my life is wrapped up in today, no past nor future here.
A costumer comes up to me and orders a single caffe latte. - That will be 29 please, I say with a (what I believe to be) a friendly smile. - Do you take Danish coins? he then asks. - Haha, weell, it would be better since their currency is stronger at the moment but I dont know how my boss would see on it. I say and laugh. Thinking that he is joking I try to do the same. Keep the spirit in a good mood. - Sooo.. You dont take Danish currency? he repeats. - Oh ehhh. No sorry, I simply answer, a little bit embarressed. - Okej, what about Swedish coins?
They have taught me Italian expressions, that crows are birds that are one of a kind and if you are nice to them they remember you, the importance of waffles on a friday afternoon, about diets and language differences and carnivals in other parts of the world. We have been discussing travels, what is really tipical norwegian, the situation in Ukranie, babies, music, why you would put a jumping guy on a packet of cultured milk and, of course, coffee. Working alone sucks and without colleagues you easily feel lonely. But I have my costumers, some of them regulares, that takes me through each day. I might only be a human coffee supplier for them but they are so much more to me. Even the really annoying ones.
- Sarah, what would you rather be? A racist, communist or blind?
I have got no need for open roads, cause all I own fits on my back. I see the world from rusty trains, and always know I wont be back.
A small summary of what have happened the last 30 days.
I and Ida got visit from our north-of-sweden-halves and we spent the weekend eating, gossiping, turning down offers of afterparties and laughing.
I went a weekend to Gothenburg for late night talking with red wine, trying out the life as a student, buying a cinnamonbun bigger than my head and, most important, hanging out with my wonderful partner in crime Klara.
After that there was a big party with work, celebrating the year of 2013, that I had no trouble celebrating even though I only worked for one month of that year.
We had entered Febuary and with February comes Valentines day. Staying thankful for not working in a flower shop, like my roommates, I jumped on a night bus to Sweden and got my most expensive Valentines gift ever. I got my examination, that I was supposed to get for almost free, then it was quite expensive since I live in Norway but in the end I got it all for free. As a Valentines gift. (Even though, being honest, it was probably most a pity-gift since I had a break-down in the midwifes office. When I am lacking a few hours of sleep I get very emotional indeed.) This weekend was also spent with another First-time-in-my-life-moment. When me and my family arrived too late at a concert and the band had already started playing. And this was a sit-down concert where we had tickets on the third row.
All of sudden we are up to the last weekend, this weekend that have just passed. It included a decent amount of beer, a lot of dancing, one long distance phonecall, awesome tacos with an awesome friend, some afterparties and finally rugby. And everything I have done with this song in my mind. It is stuck in my head, repeat on my iPhone and in my cafe, PO lunsjbar.
Now walking back, down this mountain, the strength of a turning tide. The wind so soft and my skin, yeah the sun so hot upon my skin. Looking out at this happiness I have searched for between the sheets. Feeling blind, I realise. All I was searching for was me.
The radio is playing Rihanna with "Shine bright like a diamond" and immediatly I transports back in time. One year to be precise. I am no longer in my one-man-cafe in a snowcovered Oslo wearing three shirts even though I am indoors. In front of me are no costumers or coffee dispensors, napkins, croissants. Instead I am back in the hottest town in Nicaragua, Leon. I sit on a wooden chair by a desk and the sweat keeps on pouring down my body, even though I hardly have anything on. In front of me sits Gloria, with big, dark and crazy hair that goes along with those dark eyes full of kindness. She shows me a page in her notebook where she has written down "Shine bright like a diamond" while she keeps on singing just that phrase over and over again.
Gloria is my spanish teacher and hardly speaks any english. It is great for my spanish learning, forcing me over and over to find the right words to explain what I am trying to say. In the beginning we couldn't understand each other. But once we get to know each other communication gets easier, except the days I am way too tired to think since I was up all night working, watching the stars on the tin roof above the laundry area or dancing salsa. Then she shakes her head and tell me to go and get a coffee. It doesnt matter that it is 45 degrees outside, I should still have that burning hot coffee.
Gloria have one daughter, one son and a husband. I dont know their names. But I know her husband is a man who likes to cuddle which Gloria isn't. The heat in the city becomes just more intense if they are laying close to each other in bed during the night. Cause Gloria is a sweater (I talk about sweating. Not sweater - the clothes). We always try to take a desk close to one of the fans during our lessons, though it hardly makes any differance. Gloria sits with a tissue wiping the sweat of her face, cursing over the friends she have that aren't sweaters.
I dont know much about her son either. But he has been, or is still, training kickboxing or boxing. It was thanks to Gloria I could locate a boxingclub in Leon. Without Gloria I would never have been jumping on huge wheels in a mosquito filled basement, which I did enjoy a lot. She gave me not only directions to this but also to the best bakeries in town and what pastries to try and not to try. And she told me that all this new coffees, cafe latte, cappuccino, ice coffee is all new to them. She and a friend had been buying ice coffee without really knowing what it was. In result it gave both her and her friend a real brainfreeze.
Glorias daughter is listening to all the same American music that we listen to in Sweden. It was her daughter who, beeing fifteen years old, opened up Glorias eyes for Rihanna, the one with the hot legs. Gloria had seen a picture of Rihanna sitting on a chair with her legs apart, and oh my. Those legs, que piernas! It was thanks to her daughter Gloria now sat there in front of me endlessly humming "Shine bright like a diamond" and made me translate it into spanish, so she could know what she went around singing.
Soon the radio changes song and I am back to reality, to present time. Costumers are asking me if I have cafe latte, cappuccino and other coffees, not noticing the giant sign behind my back with the prices of all our coffees. Where it is also written cafe latte, cappuccino and so on in big letters. The snow hasn't stopped and maybe I should consider putting on a fourth sweater.
But for now the thoughts of last year, Nicaragua, Sonati, my spanish lessons and Gloria, keeps me warm. And for some unexplainable reason thinking of the past gives me hope for what to come.
Cause my heart's become a crooked hotelroom, filled with rumours. But it is I how pay the rent for these fingered-face out-of-tuners. And I make 16 solid half hour friendships every evening.
When life has turned on its autopilot and you just do things without thinking. You do things because you should. You do things out of habit. You do things you never thought you would do, just because it is what is expected from you. You dont do things you want. Simply because you dont know what you want.
Lately I have been feeling a lot of helplessness because I have realized I just dont know what I want to do with my life right now. It is all feeling pretty grey. I dont feel like working, I dont feel like travelling, I dont feel like training, I dont feel like studying. But I dont mind any of them at the same time. It is hard to put words on these emotions. The emotion when simply nothing is right, but not wrong either.
I know all I have to do is to give it some time. Allow things to feel grey and let time pass. Hopefully in not too long time, I will know. I might stumble upon it, as sudden like a lightening from a blue sky or it will grow. I have spent a lot of time worrying, but I dont do that any longer. Instead I spend my time with getting in to routines. After all, 2013 wasn't really a year with firm routines and procedures. Maybe this is what I need. Until I know I will work, train and listen to music.
A man walked by, walking back and forth the street with a drunken smile to go along. He stopped to look at me and say, "Child, don't fear doing things wrong."
T : The first T must be for the Troubles and sticky situations I have been in this year. For example when my phone got stolen in Buenos Aires, when I had to run after a taxi driver that had taken my bag in Nicaragua, when me and Ida missed the bus for the airplane in Norway making us taking a taxi for 1000 nok or when I booked flying tickets from the wrong airport in Kuala Lumpur. All these situations made me react in different ways, all from crying my eyes out in a cafe til laughing so hard until there was water in my eyes.
W : This is an easy one. The W in twothousand13 stands for the World. Never before have I visited the same amount of countries that I have this year. From Nicaragua in January to Germany in November giving me a total of 12 different countries in different parts of the world visited in twothousand13.
O : O is Octopuses! Because they are the coolest living thing I have seen since I saw a lynx at the zoo when I was 11 years old. Octopuses (wait, is it one Octopus and two Octopussies?) are moving really slow with parts everywhere and no matter how big they are they can make themselves so small just folding in their tentacles. But the most awesome thing about them is that they can change colour! Noone ever told me that when I was eating calamares (fried squid rings) in Greece during my youth! So Octopuses, being as cool as they are, are something I would never have seen unless I had started diving, which I also did in twothousand13. In Honduras I went from beginner to an advanced certified diver and after a liveaboard in Thailand I could proudly write about my 25th dive in my logbook. When people told me that diving is a drug I doubted them. I dont do that any longer. I finish twothousand13 with 25 dives and hope to increase that number with twice as much during 2014.
T : Training. Cause it has this last few years never stopped being a big part of me. It made me jump on huge truck wheels in an underground boxing club in Nicaragua, sweat like a maniac on spinning sessions in Mexico, getting hit back into shape in my old kickboxing club in Oslo and trying out a new sport, Rugby. Training have meant so much to me that I even spent two months away in Thailand, learing thaiboxing and everything around it.
H : I will put Horses here. I am not a big Horse-fan what so ever. But when I meet a horse I straight away remember the journey I have taken with them. From my first encounter, very young on my friend Fridas birthday party, when everyone at the party was allowed to ride on a horse. I did and when I did so the saddle started sliding to one of the sides, scaring me into thinking I would fall off. Also scaring me enough to never go horsebackriding again. Or at least until it was 2012 and Ida got the idea to go on horses among Inca ruins in Peru. Not until after we had booked and paid for the tour I remembered that I was afraid of horses. And that horsebackriding, with a horse doing whatever he wanted, did not ease my fear. Insted that happened in twothousand13, where group pressure (well not really, they told me I could do whatever I wanted but still) made me get back up in the saddle on a huge horse on a vulcanic island called Omotepe. We gallopped on the beach overlooking the water and beautiful surroundings. And somewhere there I stopped being afraid. This moment, when I realised I wasnt scared any longer, made me decide on something that still (and will keep on) colours me anywhere I go. I will never let fear stop me from doing anything.
O : I am gonna put Oversleeping here. It is not a good one (or if it is a real word) but still, never have I ever overslept as much as I have done during twothousand13. A salsanight gone mad and made me wake up one hour after I was supposed to start working. A birthdaycelebration finishing off a crazy week in south of Norway made me & Ida miss the bus that would take us to the airport. We overslept almost two hours. A interesting night in Thailand didnt make me sleep too long but nevertheless I still missed the transport I was supposed to take to the airport.
U : Under the influence of alcohol. Well, this in itself is not typical for twothousand13. Years before I have shouted "No Tomorrow!" to my friends holding up a shot of Mintuu. But some (or maybe most) of the stories I tell when I talk about this year have happened Under the influence of alcohol. I have really discovered tequila, with all tequila brings with it. It started already in 2011 or 2012, but it wasnt until I had been with Keely in Mexico in a jazzbar serving us tequila after tequila, that I realised I actually liked the flavour. Just not always what it does to you. I have drunkenly misplaced things like never before. During the year I have lost a number of VISAcards, jackets, one iPhone, shoes and a dress under the influence of alcohol. Just this week I lost my driving license.
S : The biggest thing happening on the letter S is, undoubtfully, the Surprise party I got on the 4th of May, twothousand13. My sister took me away thinking that we would simply drop off our parents and buy some candies for the evening when we would watch some movies. I went a little bit crazy with the swedish sweets and bought maybe one thing too many. Once we got back to the house and out of the car I just looked up to see a bunch of people standing on the porch screaming "SURPRICE!". I was speechless. My first thoughts were "Who are these people?" "Does Hannah know about this? Now we cant watch movie!" "Okey, I dont want anyone to see exactly how much candies I had bought for myself..." It was all just... Wonderful, amazing and awesome. I will never forget that day and night. Just thinking about it still makes me speechless. I just dont know how to ever be able to give back to these wonderful people. Maybe 2014 will be the year of many surprise parties.
A : This one tells us about all the Apartments I have been living this year. Because I havent only been travelling in twothousand13. During five months I was actually living and working in one place here in Scandinavia. During the summer I started out with living two weeks in the French Connection, or as I also like to call it, my french family. They were too generous and I dont feel that my thank you-dinner was really enough to actually thank them for letting me crash there for 14 nights. But when those nights were over I moved in with my sister in a teenytiny studentapartment. We havent lived together for 9 years and yes, I was feeling quite nervous. But now we are closer than ever before. When the summer came to its end we had to give up the apartment, she went back to Sweden and I went to my other extra family, Eun and Thomas, where I got my own room for ten days. They were the cutest. I owe them so much. Also, a big happening during twothousand13 is that my parents sold the wonderful house in Laholm and bought an apartment in Halmstad. It is crazy. I cant really get a grip around what has happened. I finish twothousand13 in Halmstad but living in an apartment in Oslo together with two other swedish girls, My and Pernilla, that I cant wait to get to know properly.
N : N will represents all the Nights of twothousand13. The nights I spent lying on a tin roof watching the stars. The nights I spent trying to sleep in hostels or rooms with people snoring loudly. The nights I spent not sleeping at all but instead rumbling streets and bars and friends apartments and boxing rings catching the first sunlight before falling asleep. The nights I have been couchsurfing on friends couches. The nights I stayed awake watching a movie, a documentary or waiting for a message instead of sleeping and be well-rested the next day at work. The nights I crossed off things of my bucket list that would never been able to do during the day. The nights when the sun never set. The nights we stayed up dancing and swimming in the sea. The nights with late night discussions about destiny, life and beyond.
D : Decisions. Every year you have to take decisions. Every day, almost every hour you make some kind of decision. But these are not the decisions I aim for here. Not the daily nor the monthly ones. No, twothousand13 has been a year full of bigger decisions, and all the nervousness and anxiety that comes along. I have, for the first time in years, been without work or living arrangements or travel plans. Leaving the door maybe too open for me to handle. I have freaked out over all the possibilities and opportunities that have layed in front of me. And it is impossible to say if I did the right ones but if I had to do it all again there are few decisions that would have been different.
1 : The number one stands for my very first godson!! THIS my friends is really crazy. Eun and Thomas got a wonderful son named Sebastian in November and they asked me to be one of his godmothers. I was touched when she told me in 2012, I was crying on skype in February/March when Eun told me she was pregnant and I was completely speechless when I got the first picture of Sebastian sitting in a hostel in Thailand in November. He is adorable. I never understood people aaaw-ing and ooooh-ing in the baby clothes sections in stores before. Now I do. He is about six weeks old and I have already bought him three crazy outfits; a leprechaun, a gingerbreadman and thaiboxing shorts. I hope my taste in clothes wont make them change their mind about me being a godmother.
3 : I have eaten three kinds of bugs during this year. In twothousand13 I could finally cross off eating a fried bug in a foreign country. Of course Thailand had both cochroach, cricket and maggots to offer, something that me and my partner-in-crime in Thailand Amanda, couldnt miss out on. I will also let the number three represent all the other wierd food dishes I tried during the year like fried cactus, alligator balls, chicken heart and some other kind of fried intestines.
And you asked me, what is my biggest fear? That things would always remain so unclear. That one day I will wake up all alone with a big family and emptiness deep in my bone. That I would be so blinded, turn a deaf ear, and my fake laugh would suddenly sound sincere.
I was laying on the couch in the livingroom of Ida and Rasmus new apartment. The room was of beautiful wooden floor and with a huge window with great view since the apartment is on the fifth floor. The curtains were not meant to cover the whole window and when I was laying there, watching the stars an airplane flies by. It crossed the night sky with it's green and red lights blinking. I couldn't help but wondering, is it on it's way to land or going away?
It has been exactly seven days since that night on the couch. I now am in my new bed, in my new apartment with my new roomies in a new part of town. The only thing is that I can't really decide what I think about being back in Oslo, capital of Norway. I have only lived in this apartment for a week but this living arrangement gives me really good feelings. What sucks is, that the job doesn't.
I was sitting in the lunch room at work, which looked exactly the same as it did my very first day there the 4th of January 2010. I was back at the same employee but with a different contract. The only thing was that it didn't notice, Since nothing ever finishes on time, neither had the bakery I am supposed to be a leader of. This means I was back at Deiglig with almost the exact same people, same tasks and same costumers. I don't know if I should laugh or cry about the fact that it had been 17 months since I was there, but it felt as if I was never truly gone.
Yesterday I followed my new roomies out on the town with their friends. After an evening and night with some rum and coke and a beer or two I stumbled into the kitchen of the apartment clatching my McDonalds bag at three o clock. The burger was amazing, but the phone call from the other side of the world was even better. Today me and My spent the entire day on the couch with the awesome tv of this apartment. We managed to watch four movies, some American Funniest Home Videos episodes and Simpsons. The most exciting thing today happening, which also was the most annoying, was when the fire alarm went of and I seriously thought my head would explode.
Life goes on in Oslo. During this first week I was also out training on our buildings inner yard, jumping up and down and running around doing push ups, situps and more. During one of the 10 seconds break I turned my head up to the sky for catching air. When I do so my eyes fall on an airplane crossing the december sky. The green and red lights once again blinking down at me made me wonder, will I be staying here, or am I already leaving?
Know that water is sweet but blood is thicker. If the sky comes falling down, for you there is nothing in this world I wouldnt do.
"And since you are so fucking strange, you actually got really happy of it" says my mum when she is telling the story of when I got a cover and pillow in Christmas present. We are standing in the old house in Laholm, the one now sold, packing everything down. Later we take the car and put all the boxes, bags and furnitures in an orginazed chaos in the new apartment in Halmstad. Their new home. And in a way mine.
It's been 13 days since I took the Norwegian Dreamliner from Bangkok to Hamburg, with one nights layover in Oslo. There was not time for much but enough to get my ass kicked in chess, get served some tasty "thai ribbs" and meet the most beautiful baby I have ever seen, Sebastian. Not that the competition is that high since I have hardly ever met a baby before. It is Eun and Thomas who two days earlier became parents and me a godmother. I still can't really wrap my head around it but oh, Sebastian was adorable. Even when he was screaming it wasn't too loud or annoying. A completely new feeling for me, known as Sarah - the babyhater.
The day after I returned to Oslo airport and jumped on another airplane that took me to Hamburg. Even though I was on european ground I was not yet finished with my travelling. With my bag of 19.4 kilos and layer on layer with shirts I took the challenge of understanding the German train system. A challenge I realised I had lost when the train I was on entered the last station, Lubeck, without passing by a city called Grevesmuhlen. Which were where I was heading to.
I guess I shouldn't have been that surprised once I finally got off a train in Grevesmuhlen it had taken me a few more hours than I had planned. The journey from Hamburg airport had taken me a little bit more than six hours instead of the two it was supposed to. But no harm done. My family and relatives still hadn't arrived and I could shower off these last few days of travelling without any stress.
The weekend was a surprise travel for my grandmother who turned 80 years old that friday. Even though the surprise wasn't that much of a surprise since she had been suspecting it for quite some time. She even had done some snooping around herself amongst my not-knowing-what-she-was-up-to cousins. I'm kind of happy I was on the other side of the earth and in no opportunity of getting exposed to it. Although she had figured the trip out in advance she still beamed happy at us all while we were cramped into one hotel room drinking champange and giving presents. It is funny how the weekend would end in almost the same way.
When myself, along with my parents entered the breakfast buffeet on sunday morning we were convinced that someone else had taken our table. It was filled with... What is that? Is that presents? It turns out that our sweet grandmother, mother and mother-in-law wanted to thank all of us. And since the trip hadn't been the surprise it was supposed to be, it had given her enough time to collect some gifts for everyone that she brought along. The weekend starts with us giving her presents and finishes with her giving all of us presents. She is a remarkable and wonderful person my grandmother.
Two or three car games later I enter Swedish soil for the first time in two months. My country greeted me with cold temperature (about 30-40 degrees colder than Thailand) and a sun that sets at four o'clock. And the 10 days spent here has passed without me really noticing them. We have been packing, loading cars, driving, emptying cars, cleaning, unpacking.. I even helped out with painting walls and laying floors! The floor buisness was a little more successful I must admit, while the paint ended up everywhere. Like on my parents dear living room floor (which must have something special about it since mother holds it so dear) and on my thighs. No, or yes, on my pants but also, more myseriously, on my thighs. On my skin. Under the pants.
So here we are. Yesterday mum sealed the deal and turned in the keys. The house of early 19th century is no longer in our family's possesion after 40 years. It stings. But the memories after all is not in the house, it is in our heads.
I will never forget how me and my grandmother spent time in her gallery painting, eating chocolate and listening to Greek music. I will not forget the eternal building of roofs, sundecks, dancefloors and chicken houses. I will never forget when I, as a teenager, got my own huge room with a small toilet and even an entrance of my own (even though I never ever used that entrance nevertheless still had it). I will never forget how happy I was when I bought my very first vacuum cleaner. Or how happy I was from the cover and pillow that I got for Christmas. I guess my mum is right, I was a strange child.
And those bright blue eyes can only meet mine across a room filled with people that are less important than you.
As a little girl I was afraid of a lot of things. One of my biggest fears was drowning and I had numerous of dreams where Lagan (the river) outside our house had overflown and the whole house was underwater. Because of this fear I also have been afraid of sleeping on a boat. The sea sickness that hit me everytime I entered a boat also did not help and I avoided spending time on a boat as much as possible for the first 22 years of my life.
Thankfully I have grown, and even outgrown my fear. Or maybe it is more that my interests, passions and hobbies has been more important. So important that I actually forgot my fears. This is why it was possible for me to spend four days and four nights out at sea. Living on a Liveaboard with friends spending all day diving was awesome. I managed to tackle both my sea sickness and boat-sleeping-issues.
That Coffee Frappe gave me one nasty food poisoning and four days in bed. Once I was healthy up and going my friends were certified divers. So on a Thursday evening the five of us together with two Norwegian diving instructors boarded Manta Queen III. Four dives per day refreshend my diving skills and we got to see turtle, octopuses (THEY WERE SOOO FUCKING COOOL!! Did you know they change colour? Well they DO and it is AWESOME), clown fishes and lots and lots more. It was better than I ever could imagine. And the only thing we felt that we missed were a whale shark, a manta and a fat german tourist in speedos.
Monday afternoon we were back on firm ground and the world have been rocking ever since. The feeling when sea becomes land and land becomes sea. We jumped on a minibus that took us all the way to Phuket and Patong where I would spend my very last days in Thailand. Turns out that one day were enough for me, Erling and Anton to chase a beach where we could do some windsurfing, even though there was no wind on any of the beaches we visited. And one crazy night out is enough for me to lose all common sense together with shoes, phone and clothes.
So here I am, sitting on a brown not too comfortable chair, in Subvarnabhumi Airport in Bangkok. My last night in Thailand I will spend on these hard chairs before I catch my flight back home at 9 o’clock. I will do one nights lay over in Oslo before I continue to Hamburg where I, one way or another, will get to Grevesmuhlen where my family awaits. I cant wrap my head around these last two month, how time just flies by. I still feel that I haven’t had enough, I am not satisfied.
The feeling of when home becomes away and away becomes home.