24 February 2013

How to Cover a Multitude of [Cultural] Sins

Over the past two weeks I've been given a[nother] new Hausa nickname: Mai Wayo: The Owner of Cleverness.

This is a society that appreciates witty responses and apparently these past few weeks I've proven that I can hold my own when it comes to offering come-backs that meet the Hausa cultural standard.  Between the Nigerien nursing staff, several crutch-training patients and a couple of vendors around town, I'm no longer just The Owner of the Giving of Walking.

But before you jump to the wrong conclusion and think that I'm well on my way to rubbing shoulders in this society, the reality is, when it comes to culture, every step forward comes with (at least) two steps back!

18 February 2013

The Art of Asking a Favor

As I prepared for my return to Niger, I made the assumption that last term, I had learned a thing or two about the culture.  I felt confident that this time, I'd make fewer mistakes.

Then I landed.

And it's felt like I've done everything wrong since!

Maybe, like me, my Nigerien friends had made the same assumption, and therefore have raised the bar in terms of cultural-appropriateness.

I guess it's safe to say I've kissed my Get-Out-of-Culture-Free Card goodbye . . . it's time I should know better!

Chapter 2: We Have a Gym

When discussing prime real estate, they say location is everything.  When I arrived in Galmi near the start of 2011, I was given a small office space that was central to the whole of the hospital.

I'd like to think that gesture was intentional . . . an unspoken commentary on the recognition of the importance of physical rehabilitation on the patient care spectrum . . . but really, it was just the only space available that hadn't yet been condemned.

Working in such cramped quarters had it's advantages . . . if a pair of crutches started to slip in one corner of the room while simultaneously a patient began to fall in the opposite corner . . . no problem!  Two outstretched arms, and crisis averted.

You know how they say 'Three's a crowd' . . . well, in the old therapy office, four was a mob.

17 February 2013

There is Hausa and I Still Have My Skirt

I've been busy moving back into Galmi . . . both in my house and my new therapy gym.  We are in the process of rebuilding the hospital . . . which means the hallway where the therapy office used to be is now a pile of rubble.  But it also means our little department has had an upgrade!  With about 4 times the space as before, we now have the space to practice without tripping over equipment, crutches, or one another.

It also means we now have adequate space for a PT or two . . . or five!  (apply here)

My new location brings with it a spectacular new view.  Instead of staring into the windows of the private ward, like before, the new therapy gym faces the gidan baki, aka the ACU (Ambulatory Care Unit).  An open space framed by small buildings composed of five rooms a piece where patients can stay who need wound care or TB treatment, without being hospitalized.

07 February 2013

SWF Desperately NOT Seeking (8-Legged) Roommate

Laying on the bottom long list of Reasons It's Harder to Be Single Girl In Africa is: changing lightbulbs . . . . highest on the list: sharing an apartment with the dregs of God's creation.

That's right, I am, once again, talking about the Creepy-Crawlies.

I mean, really!  I know this is prime climate for so many of the grossest-things-to-squirm-this-earth, but come on!  I have locks on the doors for a reason!  And while I can, on occasion, overlook the friendly mosquito-eatting gecko that sneaks through a crack in the wall, I do NOT appreciate showering with a long-legged, big bottomed SPIDER.

06 February 2013

Cultural Incorrectness

Living cross-culturally is like waltzing in a potato sack . . . no matter how much agility, flexibility or grace you think you may have, in the end, you looks less like a ballerina and more like a lame kangaroo.

We are still in the midst of Harmatan Season . . . that's when the temperatures are bearable because the wind is blowing.  And not just any wind, wind from the northeast that carry dust and sand from the Sahara-proper and deposits it in our tear ducts and nostrils, coats our teeth, fills our ear canals and hides under our finger nails.

Since the wind was roaring this morning, I decided against an African wrap-around skirt (that, and I still live by the First Rule of Therapy: no free shows!) and opted instead for a flowy down-to-my-mid-calf skirt that I purchased in 2008 when I first came to visit Galmi.  But two steps outside and I knew I had made the wrong choice.

01 February 2013

Bakers Gonna Bake

Went on a mail run today . . . which also means running some errands in a town slightly bigger than our village.

Black-Market-M. and I had a nice sized Honey-Do List that included picking up OliveGarden-ish breadsticks from the local bakery.

We found the Gidan Brody (House of Bread) and went inside the compound gate.  We bought what we could, but there wasn't enough . . . and the dough was still rising, so we'd have to come back.