Bye bye Barbra

Today was bittersweet for sure. On the one hand, we had a satisfying and full day of home based care, but on the other…BARBRA IS LEAVING US 🙁 If I were capable of crying besides frustrated tears, I would, because Barbra has been so incredibly fun to be with during the last week and so genuinely happy that I don’t know how we will keep the energy up around here without her.

Our day consisted of all day home based care in the bush village of Natebe, about 30 km outside of Livingstone. When I say bush, I mean we were in the literal bush. After being dropped off by Benny (going over some very sketchy dirt roads to get there, too) we met the two caretakers we’d be working with throughout the day, Martha and Christine. Both were lovely ladies that did their best to answer any and all questions we had. From the drop off site, we visited our first two patients that were right next door to where we were, but after that, we started the first of many hikes.

Natebe is huge! There are a ton of people (at least that we saw) but since it’s a primarily farming community, everyone is at least a half mile apart, and to get there is an over the river and through the woods situation. Most of the patients we visited had aches and pains from colds, getting old, and likely weather changes. There were very few wounds compared to Linda and Sakubita, but that was likely because there was very little in the way of plastic and glass trash for them to cut themselves on.

Around lunch time, we visited a few patients that then made some fritas (fried dough balls) for those in our group that weren’t gluten free, and after lunch we ended up staying there for almost two hours because patients kept coming to us. Apparently in the time we’d been there word had spread and everyone in the area was coming out to see the Mzungus with medicine. We even made a few poor kids cry because they hadn’t seen Mzungu’s before. Oops!

Twenty patients, a lot of hiking and sweating, and a lot of water later, Benny picked us up and drove us back to Livingstone Backpackers. Needless to say, we were all dead tired and famished. Around 5:15pm we headed out for the night’s AI activity nicknamed Sundowners. Basically, once a week a group gets together to go watch the absolutely stunning sunset somewhere along the river. Sometimes it’s at the fancy hotel here, the Royal, and other times it’s at places like where we went, which was this little open area next to the river about a mile from Victoria Falls. We call it “The Side of the Road.” Super fancy, right?

The sunset was beautiful and we saw tons of bats! The bats were swooping down pretty low and close to us because of all the mosquitos, so it was both exciting to watch and slightly terrifying because what if one ran into you??? On the way back from Sundowners, we had a strange encounter of the wild kind.

Just as we entered what’s known as the elephant corridor, one of the new volunteers asked if you actually see elephants regularly in the area. We all responded that yep, that’s true and we had seen some just the other day by the stream that goes under a bridge we have to cross. Right as we pointed out where we saw them, there were about five elephants just standing right next to the side of the road ready to cross! They were probably less than five feet from the car and elephants up close are MASSIVE! They basically took up our entire windshield view, and to say we were all excited and terrified at the same time would be an understatement. So the newbie learned pretty quickly that yes, you do in fact see elephants along the elephant corridor.

Getting back, we were all starving, and luckily it wasn’t too long of a wait until the cooks had some delicious spaghetti and squash ready for us! With full bellies and tired eyes, Braydan and I made our way upstairs, took showers, got in our pjs and realized it was only 8:30pm. How we keep managing to go to bed early I’ll never know, but before going to sleep, we ran downstairs to say goodbye to Barbra, one the visiting coordinators from Chimfunchi that we had come to love and adore. We took a selfie, promised to keep in touch with What’s App, and then scuttled upstairs to go to bed.

Both the club next door and the teenagers staying here were especially obnoxious last night, so sleeping for me was intermittent. But that was ok because it meant that I was awake at 4:00am when Barbra came to say goodbye one last time before boarding her taxi to head back to Chimfunchi. After that, I slept like a rock. So here we are, post breakfast as Braydan and I prep for another day in Linda, which you’ll read all about tomorrow. Until then, ¡adios!

-Gabrielle Bezzant

Author: Gabrielle Bezzant

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