Sunday, April 17, 2011

Wild Ride

It has been a schizophrenic few weeks. i thought i would go mad if i didnt get out of here to go to Istanbul for my annual CME conference. I was in virtual heaven while in Istanbul. and now i am back in Ouaga and the country is slowly disintegrating - this has always been the peaceful W African country. craziness. not sure how i feel at the moment (other than tired).

As mentioned in (all?) of my previous posts, things are not ideal here and stressful. i feel like everything is a struggle - down to the smallest detail. my shining light is Otto. Not having my car just makes thing feel more prison like. yes, my car is still in Abidjan and i thought it was a good sign that i didnt see it on the news driving around the streets of Abidjan with a belt-fed machine gun welded to the top. i have hope, as things stabilize in Ivory Coast, i think there is a good chance that i will get my car back. doesnt help the fact that i need/want a car now :)

I needed to go to Istanbul for a reality check and for some support. i got just that. met some amazing people (even a gal from Woodinville - same area where i went to high school and my brother knows of her brother...small world). Got to hang with my buddy Peter who i used to work with at OHSU in the ED - that was such a treat.  It was a decent conference and i felt refreshed and with a new perspective/positive attitude coming back to post.

Here are some photos. i have a ton, but will just put in a few for now. Istanbul was safe, fun, good food, easy to get around. Everything you could ask for as a tourist.
Courtyard in front of the Spice Market

Spices in the Market

Random street. i want to live here.

I should know the name of this church, but i forgot. it is famous, started out as a cathedral and was made into a mosque. interesting juxtaposition of different architecture.

not a great photo (i am still just using my iPhone for all photos). This is a ROMAN COLUMN - i couldnt stop staring at it. I love this kind of stuff. This is just in the middle of town, the tram goes right by this.

Beautiful rugs for sale outside of the Grand Bazaar

The Blue Mosque

Istanbul is an amazing place. maybe i will get posted there (sometime next century). we took a cruise on the Bosphorus which was quite enjoyable and a good way to get a quick view of the city. my only mistake in the whole week was not staying another couple of days. we were in lectures every day from 8am-5pm, so not a lot of time to run around. did do a lot of running around until late.

Back in Ouaga now for a week and things have really heated up politically. i have seen some things reported in the news (mostly BBC, not a lot in the US). some posturing from different groups. seems we have had some shooting every few nights for the past few weeks, but overall things seem quite normal during the day. the shooting was pretty extensive on Thursday night, so we have been in 'lock down' since Friday. seems prudent. i have had to go out on a couple of house calls and it has felt fine. the government here has placed a curfew and i think that is helping. i am just hoping things will get back to normal. certainly the people here must realize that nothing good can come from civil strife (I am happy to share my insights with any Burkinabe about my experiences in Somalia). but it is so poor here, i am sure people feel desperate and are acting accordingly.

Bottom line, we are safe. Otto is in Portland hanging with his dad (having way too much fun). I expect things to go back to our lovely 'sleepy' Ouaga soon enough.