A Travellerspoint blog

By this Author: mertzabby

Garden Route and Others

Garden Route adventures and work

So this past weekend I went on the garden route and it was a blast! My program coordinators took four of us out on the trip and they have been doing this for years so they knew all the fun places to go. We left at 5:15am so we could get an early start. The first stop we made was at the Cango Caves and we did some spelunking and crawling around in there. It was a lot of fun cause we were sliding down and under and through all sorts of crazy spots. There was this one tunnel called the postbox and we had to slide into it and out of it face first so it was just like we were a letter being sent haha. Then there was the Tunnel of Love and the Devils Chimney. The Devils Chimney was very narrow and that too a little wiggling and power to get through but I made it! After that we went to an ostrich farm. It is crazy cause on the garden route you just see hundreds and hundreds of ostriches. At the farm I was able to pet ostriches, feed them, I got a hug from one, I saw a dwarf ostrich which was pretty neat, I got a neck massage from a bunch of ostriches (ill post a video of it when i have the chance, its pretty great), and then i finally rode one!! Riding an ostrich was so awesome. I couldnt stop laughing, i just enjoyed myself so much. We went and had dinner after then went back to the hotel and watched the sunset on the beach...so beautiful. The next day we got up early and went zip lining in the African canopy...it was way cool There were 10 different slides and it was great. After that I went bungee jumping!!!!!! It was on the Bloukran bridge and it is the worlds highest bungee bridge jump. I was able to post a photo album on facebook because i bought a picture cd of my jump when i was there so everyone should check it out!!! It was so great...probably the coolest thing I have ever done and I loved every minute of it :) After the bungee we headed to Knysna elephant park and i was able to pet the elephants, feed them, kiss them, hug them..it was so great. The babies were so adorable! After that we went on a sunset cruise and just had a few drinks and watched the sunset...again, so beautiful. The last day we went to a private game reserve and so i went on another safari. it was still really awesome! I saw lions this time! Whats really funny is that these lions are so spoiled that they were a little chubby but they were still cute. All in all this weekend was so jam packed and so fun!!

For work, I put up my first IV's and scrubbed into my first surgery!! The surgery was a guy with 4 sebaceous cysts on his face. Pretty gnarly. They were oozing and puss was going everywhere and it smelt pretty bad but it was still cool being next to the surgeon and helping out!!! I went on my first overnight call at this hospital too which was fun. I worked for 32 hours straight with a little bit of a nap time in the middle. I was pretty tired but it was a great learning experience.

Not much time left at this internet cafe but thats a little update. Everything is going well and i wish i could write more about work and all the cool and fun things that i have seen and done. Only two weeks left in south africa and that makes me sad :( but im still excited to go home and see everyone when i get back!!


Posted by mertzabby 12:06 Comments (1)


I love this city

Oh Cape Town, how I love it! It is just so beautiful and such a fun city! When I walk outside every morning to go to work at 7:15 I just look to my right and there is Table Mountain. When driving into the city you see the ocean on my right and Table Mountain is there again on my left. The sunrises and sunsets and gorgeous. I cant help but take a million pictures of them! Alright enough about that, work is great! The first week I was working in the ARV clinic and I was just shadowing a doctor and learning a lot about how their ARV and TB treatments work and why they choose to give certain drugs to their patients. I also have been helping out the doc by doing some blood work for him which is neat because I get to use all those high tech lab machines! This week I am in the eye clinic they have at the hospital and it is so so so interesting. The doctors there do a lot of cataract surgeries so I was able to go into the operating room with them and watch them do the procedure. They do it all by looking through a microscope and I was able to look through the side microscope and see them do the whole procedure. It was way cool. Made me want to perform eye surgeries! Today I was just in the clinic with the doctors and I was able to look through the microscopes and check out all the patients eye problems. What I love about that is that everyone's eyes are different and so I was able to see a lot of different diseases. The doctor was actually trusting me a lot and let me check through the microscope first to tell him what I thought was wrong with the patient then he would look and see if I was right or not. Im excited to work there the rest of the week!! For the fun stuff...I hiked Table Mountain!!! It was amazing! My legs still burn and are in pain from it but it was totally worth it :) Long Street is the street with all the bars and clubs and so my friends and I have been going there a few times and it is always a happening place. This weekend I am going on the Garden Route for a 4 day trip and I am so excited for it!!! Im goin to be petting elephants, zip lining, diving into caves, riding ostriches, and so much more. I cant wait!! Anywho I need to get off the computer because my time is going to run out! Hope everyone is doing well! Talk to you all later :)

Posted by mertzabby 12:20 Comments (1)

Quick Blog

Alright this is going to be a super fast blog cause i dont have much time but this is my last week in Durban and I am so sad but super excited for CAPE TOWN!! I am going to miss my host family the most. They are so wonderful!! I will also miss the warm Durban weather and the beach. So great to be by there for 5 weeks. I wasnt able to tell you all about the Safari and Estuary boat trip I went on either! It was so fun!! Within the first 5 minutes of driving into the game park there was a giraffe about 10 ft off the road just chillin and eating some leaves...then another 10 minutes later there were two rhinos blocking the road! We had to sit and wait about another 10 or so minutes until they finally got off the road so we could pass. Not something you see everyday :) On the safari I was able to see a bunch of giraffes and also a giraffe stampede happening in the distance! They were being chased by a warthog. Then I saw a lot of zebras and was about 2 ft away from them at one point and I also saw a bunch of kudu which is like an antelope, and I also spotted water buffalo, elephants, some birds of some sort and that was about it. No lions or leopards. Leopards are extremely rare to see and my group just missed the lion spotting but we saw the aftermath of where they were. They killed a giraffe by a bridge in the game reserve and so were were able to see what was left. It was pretty gnarly! After that night we went to St. Lucia to the hippo and croc tour and as you can tell by the name we went on a boat and cruised around looking at a ton of hippos and crocs! We also saw an African Fish Eagle which was a really cool bird also. I learned a lot about hippos that day that I never knew. I never knew that hippos couldnt swim and if they wanted to go places where they had to go through deeper water first they just sink to the bottom and walk on the river floor then when they need air they push themselves back up real quick for a breath then sink back down and keep repeating that cycle til they get to where they are safe and in shallow water. Pretty cool!! I never knew that. I've also had the opportunity to hike up the arch of the Moses Mabhida soccer stadium and check out the view from up there. It was beautiful!!! We were also up there for sunset so that was really neat as well. It looks like thats the best I can do for now cause I have to get off. Thanks everyone for reading my blog so far! I hope I'm doing alright cause this is my first time! As much as I would like to keep you all up to date on everything that I do I just dont have the time cause I'm always out doing things!!! Ill hopefully write soon :)

Posted by mertzabby 12:25 Comments (1)


3rd week

Wowee I'm way behind on my blog but I just haven't had any time...just too busy having fun :) But for my third week of the internship I spent my time at two rural clinics, Malakazi and Mariannhill, then I spent a day at the Blue Roof Clinic which is a clinic that was started by Alicia Keys to help fight HIV/AIDS in Durban. Malakazi and Mariannhill were quite a different experience. They are tiny rural clinics that take care of the poorer townships and it is ran by nurses (called Sisters in South Africa). The doctor only shows up about once a month and it just blows my mind how this type of facility works. On the first day I was there observing for about 4 hours and the Sister saw about 40 patients. The patients are in and out. Of the 40 patients coming into the clinic that first day about 37 of them got an injection of some sort in their butt. Many of them did not need them but the sisters could not refuse to give patients injections because basically every person asked for one. This is where you see the differences in the level of care and lack of education among the population. The people believe that injections are the ultimate cure for everything and so they just rely on those to help them out. Because of this many people do not take other medications that are given to them properly...bad news. Even though things are this way it is very impressive to see how these clinics are ran. These clinics are doing really well with trying to educate the people as much as they can with flyers and posters so that is nice to see. These clinics see a lot of HIV+ people and one really beneficial thing that these clinics have is counseling for them. Compared to what I have heard about their health care system in the past, South Africa is doing a great job on trying to get rid of the stigma behind HIV and AIDS. More people are getting tested, realizing that they can live a good life with this disease, and also the community is becoming more supportive and that is so awesome for South Africa!!! Im very happy that I was able to experience a week in these clinics, very eye opening.

Posted by mertzabby 10:38 Comments (2)

Week 2

Pediatrics and Durban fun

What a week it has been! I was in the pediatric ward this week and it was a great time but there really wasn't much to do besides go on rounds with the doctors for an hour in the morning. The pediatrics ward had a good amount of patients and the majority of these kids were either HIV positive, had TB, meningitis, or a combination of any of those. I had a great time in the pediatric ward cause all these kids were so cute! There is one girl that we met on monday and she was ready to be discharged so she was all over the place and wanted to play with me and the other students. To keep her entertained me and her had a mini dance party haha. She's the cutest thing ever. I wanted to take her home with me haha. I have videos from later on in the week of her dancing and singing to Waka Waka that ill try and put up soon! Besides going on rounds there really wasn't much for me and the other students to do which was pretty disappointing but I had a great experience there anyways. It still killed me though seeing how sick a lot of those children were :(

On tuesday after work the gang and I went to a place called Victoria Street Market which was this really cool shopping area in downtown Durban. I bought a really cool painting and a couple gifts for some friends. While we were walking back to the car one of my friends got his vuvuzela stolen by this crazy man who was most likely on drugs. It was really odd that this happened cause it was mid day and the sun was still out but as much as my friend wanted to fight back it was probably the best that he didnt. He's pretty bummed about his vuvuzela being gone though.

On wednesday it was a normal day in pediatrics, not much going on. After work my roomie and I decided to go over to some of the guys in our programs house to play a card game that is pretty popular among the South Africans, it is called Casino. Learning new games comes pretty easy to me but this game is its own breed. It was so hard to learn!! and I don't think ill ever get a grasp of this game. It was a lot of fun though! After we played some card games a few of us wanted to go out on the town for a couple beers. We originally wanted to go to a local bar called Siberia which is right down the street but for some reason it was closed so we went to Buccaneers instead. It was totally the right choice cause it was Karaoke night!!!! We had no idea it was karaoke night so it was a great surprise. We had a blast! Maybe too much fun haha. We sang some great songs; ABC, Bennie and the Jets, mmbop...the list wouldve been longer but karaoke ended at midnight :( we closed the bar down though at 2 and made a few friends at the bar. It was definitely a fantastic time and we are going again next Wednesday!!! Any suggestions on what songs I should sing????

Thursday was again another slow day at work, we actually were able to take a nap and we did so in the library...the librarians were not too excited about that one haha. After work my roommate and I decided to do laundry for the first time since we've been here. Normally that would not be anything out of the ordinary but our family does not have a washer or dryer because they broke a while back and they havent been fixed so we hand wash everything in the bathtub and hang them outside to dry! What an experience haha. I have videos and photos of this great experience, our host mom and maid are laughing at us the whole time haha. My host mom tried to video us but it came out as about 8 different videos, I dont think my mom really knew how my camera worked, but at least there is documentation lol. It is a lot of work hand washing things!!!! I am not a fan. I have more of an appreciation for the washing machine now haha. After laundry we went to Gateway mall which they say is the biggest mall in all of Africa and they are probably right, its huge!! It was a beautiful mall too. After walking around and eating the best pasta I have every had (linguine calamari) I went home cause I was super tired and not feeling too hot and ended up passing out at about 9.

Friday was the last day in Pediatrics. We went on rounds then basically played with the kids the rest of the time. I took a lot of pictures and videos too. We got picked up around 1 then a guy in our program who has been to Durban a few times invited us to the BAT centre which is a bar/club located on Wilson's Wharf, and it hosts a lot of little concerts in it. Tonight there was a Zulu band called Ntombemhlophe Namawele and it was way cool watching them! They were amazing and I loved watching them do their traditional dancing. After that there was another jazzy band and they were very enjoyable to watch. After that it was bed time.

Saturday was great! We were at the beach for a looong time and I got my tan on! Played in the Indian ocean a little bit and wrote in my journal as well. Some locals walked over and introduced themselves to us and they wanted us to go hang out with them but that never happened cause we went to a rugby match! We went to watch the local Durban teamed called the Sharks and they played the Blue Bulls. Apparently these teams are huge rivals cause the Blue Bulls beat the Sharks in the last championship game so this was a huge game and guess who won??? THE SHARKS!! It was so much fun cause I've never been to a professional rugby match before. The fans are crazy and loud which I love cause I can just join right in :) after the game we went to a couple bars called Zach's and Spiga D'oro which were a lot of fun. Jeremy, who is one of the guys in our program that has been to Durban before, invited a few of his friends with us and they were a blast. Basically everyone I have met from Durban have all been super friendly and I love it. At Spiga D'oro my roomie and I wanted to see what was going on upstairs cause they were playing some bumping tunes and it ended up being a 21st bday party but we decided to crash it anyways. We met one of the aunts of the birthday girl and she was such a sweetheart. Her and her husband love traveling to the US so they loved that we were Americans. We talked with them for a good half hour or more then went back downstairs to join our group. After a while we went home and to bed.

Sunday was a great day as well! Woke up and went to the North Coast which is by Suncoast casino and we layed out for a while, then walked on the beach towards the soccer stadium, then had a photo shoot at the stadium. Way cool. After that we went back to the BAT centre to listen to one of Jeremy's friends and her name was Vanessa Moodley. She was AMAZING! Awesome voice and great jazzy tunes. After the concert we went to Abbey's house who is one of the alumni coordinators and frosted sugar cookies! Yummy Yummy. And now I am here in the medical school writing this.

It has been an amazing week and I'm looking forward to this week!

By the way...Happy Birthday Nelson Mandela! I picked up trash at the beach for 67 minutes in your honor. You the man :)

Until next time....

Posted by mertzabby 12:26 Comments (2)

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