Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Maun, Botswana- April 2012

DAY "1"
I call it day "1" because it started at 6AM on April 12th in Vancouver, but is only just winding down at 9:30PM, April 14th, having traveled more than half way around the world to Maun, Botswana. This is my second trip to Maun, and I look forward to sharing the experience with two other CAAT members. I'll have to wait to do that since they are currently spending a couple days in Frankfurt, having been sufficiently delayed leaving Calgary that they missed all their subsequent connecting flights. They won't be here for another couple days due to limited availability for the last leg of the journey: Johannesburg to Maun.
This was not a problem for me, even though it meant a delay getting up to speed with our efforts here. I must admit to having some feelings of trepidation as I made my way here via Beijing and Hong Kong- amongst the joys of traveling on air miles are the interesting itineraries they come up with. My concerns were quickly allayed as soon as I touched down at Maun International and that sense of comfort that comes with familiarity set in: Even though the box of medical supplies I brought along was held up at the airport awaiting the arrival of the appropriate permit. Even though all government offices are closed for the weekend and nothing would be done until Monday. Even though the official at the airport is the same one that Ally, one of the MAWS team, has been speaking with over the past week to ensure the supplies won't be held up, but still seemed completely unfamiliar with it all. Even though the only thing preventing me from opting for the 'Nothing to Declare' line at the airport, and bypassing the minimal security they have in place, is the fact that I'm Canadian, and it's what we do.... Even before Ally came through the doors of the customs area to my rescue, I was at ease- this was Africa. This was Botswana. This was how they do it here.
Ally and I got caught up on the ride from the airport- staffing changes at MAWS over the past year; our new quarters on the Palmer property a couple hundred feet from the MAWS clinic; the amazing success the group has had in their efforts last year, and that they're set to break those records again this year; the number of crocodiles still at large in the Thamalakane after a spring flood unleashed them from a local crocodile ranch. That sort of thing. We stopped at Choppies for some supplies, and the liquor store for a sixer of Windhoek, and made our way out of town to my home for the next couple weeks.
Once settled, we wandered down the road to the clinic to check things out. The calf who has been a resident for the past couple weeks following an altercation with a couple dogs, is still in the yard, keeping the grass trimmed and fertilized- her owners are taking their time retrieving her, but she should be gone tomorrow. Lucy, a recent tail amputee following an altercation with a car, is happy to see us, and even happier to be let out of her kennel for a run. Ally is twisting my arm to suggest she might need long term care at the clinic- perhaps for the rest of her life. She's sweet and rambunctious. The two other patients in the clinic will need attention tomorrow- one was hit by a car and has sustained pelvic fractures, but the last veterinarian through the clinic was optimistic that strict rest should get her through her predicament. The other is an older dog with several litters under her belt, and a transmissible venereal tumour (TVT)- something seen with significant regularity in these parts. She'll be on the to-do list for next week- spaying and the first of three or four weekly doses of vincristine, a chemotherapy agent, to address the tumour. She should do well.
The jet lag is kicking in. My eyes are becoming more and more challenging to keep open. I'm looking forward to these next two weeks perhaps even more than last year, since I kind of know what to expect. I'll keep you posted.

Day 2- April 15
It was Sunday- the clinic, like everything else in Maun, was closed. Spent the day with friends of Tana, another of the MAWS group, at a birthday party, then dinner with Virginia and Jann, our hosts from last year. I impressed myself with both my comfort behind the wheel of a right-hand drive vehicle, except for the part where I turn on the windscreen wipers when I mean to signal a turn- and my sense of direction, finding my way down the 2Km dirt track to their home. All 11 dogs were still present and doing well.

Day 3- April 16
It's so peaceful here. Until about 6AM when it starts to get light. The the ring neck doves start their rhythmic cooing, which wakes up not only me, but also every hornbill, rail, and 'Go-Away' bird (so named because their song sounds like a sheep saying 'Go away') in the 'hood. I'm feeling pretty well rested- jet lag seems to be a thing of the past. I'm also getting the hang of this 'cooking breakfast' thing- I'll have to dazzle Isabelle and Jackie when they arrive. Eating breakfast on the verandah seems to attract all the dogs on the property. They're good company, and don't really beg, so much as try to will my food into their mouths.
Richard, a veterinarian from Austin, Texas, who I met yesterday, and would be assisting us through some of CAAT's time here, arrived shortly before 8, and we walked down to the clinic. The dozen dogs Nation had dropped off the night before were resting comfortably, not knowing what awaited them. Once Lazarus, MAWS' full time veterinary assistant, arrived, we got started. Considering our unfamiliarity with the anaesthetic protocol, he and Michelle, a tech from Boston also volunteering her services, took control, calculated drug doses, and proceeded to knock out, catheterize, clip and prep all our patients, and get them on the surgery table. All Richard and I had to do was spay and neuter. Easy peasy.
We were done much sooner than anticipated, and in the meantime Nation was out rounding up tomorrow's surgery dogs- eleven as I write this, but that number has been known to change.

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