Friday night I skipped dinner at the réfectoire and headed to a bar along the Oogue with my roommate and one of the Dutch researchers to sip coca cola and see the view. At home I only drink pop medicinally, but I tell you, the Coke here is mighty fine. It is REAL sugar so it has a delightful syrupiness to it. The Coke at home is all fizz and no flavor! Anyway, so there we are enjoying our Cokes on the porch of Carpe Diem when a storm hits. It rains probably every other day here, but this was my first serious Gabonese storm. And we were stuck on a detached porch. It was SO LOUD because the roofs are metal slabs, and the lighting was terrifying! Fortunately, there doesn’t appear to be much thunder involved so at least I’m not cowering in the corner.
After we made it back home completely soaked, we changed clothes and headed to another bar right outside the main entrance to the hospital. One of the midwives and one of the German researchers were celebrating a joint birthday and there was quite a feast! Honestly though, I’m wary of food here in general. None of my roommates have had issues with the food at réfectoire, but those who have eaten at restaurants etc. have encountered some…..problems. So I only chose things that were completely cooked and stayed away from all the rest. Also, in Gabon when there is a party like this with a buffet of food, the women always go first and the men sit and gloat and tell them to hurry up. I think I shall instate this next Christmas J. I did get to meet a lot of people, mostly researchers, which was really nice. HAS is definitely an international community and everyone here is doing something different so the conversation is always interesting.
Saturday was rather uneventful as I was incredibly tired (the heat here just completely immobilizes you at times), but I did read for a while in my hammock on the porch!
Sunday was my first trip to the market. I went to the “larger” market called Matériaux, but it really isn’t that big. The first stop was the fancy/expensive grocery store called Cecado. There you can buy such luxuries as Nutella and Oreos, but actually the store is sort of empty, at least by American standards. I once worked at a fancy grocery store that literally had an entire wall devoted to yogurt. Let’s just say you won’t find that in Gabon.
After Cecado we ventured into the actual market area where you have your typical food vendors/stalls. There is quite a variety of vegetables and grains, but fruit (besides plantains/bananas) is sort of hard to come by. Women also make/sell their own peanut butter, but again I was a little nervous to try it. We also stopped by the tailor and I picked out some fabric for a skirt and pants! Allegedly it will be ready next weekend, but we’ll see about that.
The réfectoire doesn’t serve dinner on Sunday, so one of my roommates treated us to a delicious traditional Haitian meal! Certainly the best food I’ve had in Gabon. We invited two of the doctors over for dinner and they stayed and chatted for hours. Dinner is definitely my favorite meal here because of the conversation. We typically have dinner with one of the Pediatricians (Gabonese), an Internist (French) who is here doing research, and a Gabonese guy who is finishing up his residency. Last night we covered everything from infectious disease and the Ebola outbreak in Libreville in the early 2000s to the Black community’s historical distrust of American medicine. Just a typical Sunday evening at HAS.