Adventuring to Africa

Summer has turned to fall, and winter is chasing fall with a vengeance. The talk of the week was the weather forecast, which called for the first snowfall of the year. Even though we understand class will go on no matter what, we find it difficult to imagine paddling canoes in snow.

A blanket of snow on top of the mountains is all the remains from Saturday's storm.
A blanket of snow on the mountain top is all that remains from Saturday’s storm.

Our first week of canoeing began last week at the Fontana Marina. We gingerly loaded ourselves into tandem canoes, Stephan reviewed the canoe-specific strokes we would be required to perform, and off we went.

The 'rock stars' of Water I
The ‘rock stars’ of Water I

One person practiced power strokes at the bow of the boat while a classmate practiced steering from the stern. Hamilton was my boatmate and a conversation was not even required to decide we would race ourselves across the lake and be the first to reach the other side. It was a delightful day with a cool breeze, splendid fall colors and glassy, calm water. Demons were not invited nor in attendance at Fontana Marina.

Hamilton and I out in front.
Hamilton and I out in front.
A pretty pose while  loading the boats.
A pretty pose while loading the boats.


Only six weeks remain in this semester. There is talk of final exams, end-of-semester projects, and registration for next semester. Thanksgiving break will be the last respite for everyone…except me.

Several weeks ago my instructors gave me the ok to organize an adventure of my own. I will join a volunteer medical team on a mission to a Maasai village in Kenya, Africa.

Preparations for the trip have been complex. There have been fundraisers, medical supplies to gather and pack, medical database systems to implement, airline reservations to coordinate, special homework assignments to complete, and shots…. lots of shots.

Hepatitis B 1, 2 and 3, Influenza, Measles/Mumps and Rubella 1 and 2, Polio, Tetanus, Diphtheria and Pertussis. All of these began with the EMT class last June and will finish today with two more shots and a call to my doctor for typhoid and malaria pills that will come along in my bag….just in case.

One of my jobs will be to prepare a daily post to our MedicForce Facebook page to update the world on our progress toward creating sustainable healthcare for the lovely people of these Maasai villages. Another one of my jobs will be to write to this blog about the everyday challenges and rewards of this progress. At the moment, I can not imagine how I will tell the story of Africa in 500 words or less, but I will give it a try.

I have met the lovely people of Maasai. The men are kind and strong, the women are beautiful and even stronger. My husband and I spent time in Africa several years ago and, as with our tales of Ecuador, the trip was fascinating, exciting and quite surprising.

We thought you would enjoy hearing the story of our African odyssey before the next one begins. Over the next two weeks, we will dig out our photos, dust off the pages of our journals, and publish one more tale from the He Said/She Said diary of life.

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