Tuesday, January 28, 2003

Day 10: Our Last Day in Can Tho

After a nice breakfast of bananas, yogurt, and coffee, Steve and I met with the "Mom" of the street kids so that we could take them to the local market to buy them some new clothes for Tet. Somewhere we got an extra kid, but the more the merrier! She had them spruced up as much as she could for our morning excursion.

We loaded up on one of the "Cyclos" that are ubiquitous in Vietnam and headed for our shopping adventure. The kids knew exactly what they wanted and where to find it. Steve and I thought two shirts, two pair of pants, two pairs of shoes, and a backpack for each would do them fine. Can you believe that this set us back a whole US$30.00?

After getting the kids fixed up, we stopped for something cool to drink and the kids opened their bags and began to sort out whose stuff belonged to who. After all that was done we flagged down another Cyclo to head back to the hotel.

Traveling the streets of Can Tho in one of these Cyclos is a real treat. Everything was great until we turned into the hotel driveway as van was slowly pulling out. Since no one actually gives way here, the van and Cyclo came very close. The Cyclo driver made a sharp turn to get around the van and hit the curb just enough to make the trailer portion (read: passenger section) unstable.

There’s not much room in these things. I was sitting in the cab portion with our backpacks and a little girl on my lap. Steve and the two other kids were in the forward portion. We s-l-o-o-o-w-w-w-l-l-l-y-y tipped over. It seemed to me that it must have taken a long time because I could see my life flash before me. I thought of all the money I owed friends, the promises I made to quit having Snickers bars for lunch, and I wondered if God really did have a sense of humor.

I held on tightly to the little girl and took one for the team.

We all tumbled out on to the driveway. Almost instantly there were people all around shouting excitedly and offering various concoctions to dress our wounds. I can't wait to see us on the 11 o'clock news. This story will run in parallel to the great bus burnout when we arrived. Everybody was fine except for a few scrapes and bruises for Steve and me.  After all of this we took the kids to the barber for trims. This was a real experience, Steve got a haircut, beard trim, and a manicure; the Mama and two girls had perms, and the got boy a haircut – all for about US$10.

In the afternoon we had our debrief with the hospital staff to review what went well and where we wanted to improve.  Mostly it came down to communications (sound familiar?) and how to improve it so that the surgical teams can work smarter. We established additional lines of communications to get this started for next year. Tomorrow we're off to Saigon to meet up with the other part of our team. Tonight they're having a dinner for us and a little celebration to send us off.

I've had a great visit in Can Tho.

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