The joy of being on vacation or at least with close to zero responsibilities is the reality of having no concept of the days or the time. Something not very normal for the western world to comprehend, I'm grateful I've been able to have the last week (and future weeks) with this reality. However, part of the downfall of this reality is not being completely sure what's happened on what day. So I'm hoping to start a series here that will include weekly roundups giving a rough idea of what each day looked like. Honestly these posts will be as much for me as for you. Some things may be duplicate of some longer posts, but when I look back on this experience, I do hope to have good notes and memories written down.
In true Rachel fashion, when I have an idea to do something, I promptly forget about it and then start it late (or never start it at all). While these updates may not be the most consistent in the world, I am hoping they'll become a weekly-ish mainstay. I'll be on a Monday to Sunday schedule, as that's usually how I prefer my calendar anyway. This week will be about nine days.
Thursday, 23 Jan: I had wrapped up the majority of my things and had some time to actually relax before heading to the airport. I said my final goodbyes to my roommates and then my aunt picked me up for the airport around noon. I had a frantic moment where I couldn't remember if I had packed my underwear in my India/Indonesia bag or if it got put in the Ireland bag! Glad I got that settled quickly (it was indeed in the correct bag.). Once getting to the airport I got upgraded to Emirates Business Class (!!) and lived the high life while soaring at 35,000 feet on my way to Dubai.
Friday, 24 Jan: I'm honestly not sure if this Friday existed for me. I was in the air for most of it and then at the Dubai airport. I wandered around there stretching my legs after the 14.5 hour flight before heading back on the plane for 4 hours to Delhi.
Saturday, 25 Jan: I'm in Delhi! I arrived and checked into my hotel at 4am and tried to stay awake as much as possible. I made it through breakfast and ended up meeting a gentleman from London in the lobby and had a cup of tea with him. I then crashed unintentionally for three hours. I went to the lobby and met up with Mike, Joan, Jim and Deb and had dinner with them. We all then crashed again for the evening. I woke up at 1am not to get to sleep again. But I did watch my first cricket match and was determined to know the general rules of the game by the end of my time here.
Sunday, 26 Jan: Taj Mahal day! We left at 6am and drove the five hours to Agra. The traffic wasn't great and the Taj Mahal was chaotic, but it was exceptional to see. Definitely worth the trip. We had a delicious Indian meal at a local restaurant and then made the trek back to Delhi. We were all exhausted on the way home and just had dinner and crashed after getting back.
Monday, 27 Jan: We met up with Georgetta, the doctor, and headed back to the Delhi airport to catch our flight to Madurai. After five hours, we got off the plane and into the loving care of Soji and Sikkum. It was great to see them again and we were all excited for the work they've been doing and the work we were planning to do in the area. We had about an hour drive to Sivakasi, the town of the first clinic. We checked into the hotel, had dinner and then crashed. (See the pattern here?)
Tuesday, 28 Jan: This was the first day of the clinics. We drove about 20 kilometers to the Gethsemane Ministry church plant. The clinic was a success with 138 patients. We had lunch at the house of the pastor, which was several kilometers away. We came back to the clinic being stifling hot inside. The electricity had gone off and along with it, our fans. We survived but we were all ready to get out of our scrubs by the end of it.
Wednesday, 29 Jan: Today we went to Gethsemane's main church building and had another successful clinic. We were getting into the swing of things and with a large room (with plenty of air flow), it was a very pleasant day. After the clinic we walked to the Hindu temple that was right next to the hotel to take a couple pictures.
Thursday, 30 Jan: We checked out of the Bell Hotel in Sivakasi and drove about 40 kilometers to Sikkum's church, out in the country. The patients were slow in coming as this was a field labor area and it was a workday. We only saw about 110 throughout the day. We were able to see the micro finance project Soji is starting of making soaps. It was great to see the progress they are making in the neighborhood, and also be their first customers! We then drove to Madurai to the Germanus hotel. They had a nice restaurant with a great buffet. This was the first night I wore earplugs as the street noise, even four levels up, was quite ridiculous.
Friday, 31 Jan: The last day of clinics! Can't believe it's here already! This was a city clinic, so the crowds were a lot larger. It again, was a very nicely run clinic. We had about 140 this day but ended up closing early as we were running the risk of running out of medicine and didn't want to cause any trouble. It was time to say goodbye to the team we'd been working with all week. They are so sweet and it was tough to say goodbye! After freshening up, we visited Meekashi temple in Madurai. It was a sight, for sure. We then went to the Gateway Hotel which was up on a hill and allowed views of the whole city -- beautiful! My feet got eaten alive with some sort of bug and have been itchy ever since. Hope it goes away soon!
Saturday, 01 Feb: Another travel day. We headed to the Madurai airport around 8am for our 10:30 flight. It was now time to say goodbye to Soji and Sikkum. They are beautiful men doing amazing work in God's Kingdom. The flight to Delhi was long and uneventful but we soon made it back to the hotel for rest, refreshment and one final dinner as a team before heading back to the airport. Now it was time to say goodbye to the rest of the team! It was a great trip and we got along like family (because we are!) and we look forward to hopefully doing it again sometime.
Sunday, 02 Feb: My flight wasn't until 4am, so I arrived at the airport really early and just wandered for some time. Finally it was time for my 4 hour flight to Dubai. The bummer about this trip is that I had to backtrack big time in order to get to Indonesia. It just wasn't working out for me logistically or financially any other way than to just stick with Emirates the whole time. So from Delhi, I went back to Dubai, only to cross over India again to head to Jakarta. This was an 8 hour flight. I arrived in Jakarta around 11pm and Elana was there waiting for me! My time in Indonesia has officially started!
Until next week, --rvp