Swaziland! And some other random notes.

So, here I am in Swaziland. One of the countries with the highest HIV rates in the world. One of the richest countries in sub-Saharan Africa. A very different place than I would ever have expected from that description!

The people are… hot. And friendly. And very funny. I think… you can stare at pictures of orphans with HIV all you like, but nothing will prepare you for, well, dealing with people. Individuals. Or a country rather than a continent. I was fully preparing to NOT be facing a stereotype. But I didn’t realise it would be as idiosyncratic as it is.

This place is so quiet that the headlines here scream of the drabbest stories. “Man has sex with dog”, “13 year old girl reduced to ashes”. Everyone smiles at you and says hello. In a sincere manner. Amusing things happen on a regular basis. The doctors tell jokes about sex and religion. Children waste away because of HIV, and there you are, writing a prescription for HAART (combination therapy for HIV), thinking “there is something wrong with this”. Babies gurgle, relieved after the doctor has, with difficulty, taken some blood for a CD4 count. It hails, and a girl working in VCT (HIV outpatients) accompanies me with an umbrella to where a research project is based, while we hope to avoid the lightning… Lightning causes a ridiculously high number of deaths in this country.

It’s a good place. I could work here. People are overworked, but relaxed. It’s depressing but fulfilling. It’s… somewhere where I would be needed. Though, definitely a temporary stop on the way to the grave. But I really like it here.

My cousin and her family are very cool. I’m having a great time, and I’m not lonely at all!

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