Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Touring the Western Cape, Part 1

Touring the Western Cape
Stellenbosch with Ellie – visited 3 wineries in the Stellenbosch area. 

First stop was Kanonkop Wine Estate. Most well known for their blend of Pinotage, Cab Sav, Merlot, and Cab Franc called Kadette.  

Stop #2 at Rickety Bridge.  My favorite was the Foundation Stone, a blend of Shiraz, Tannat, Mourvedre, Cinsaut, and Granache. 

A brief visit to the town of Stellenbosch followed. Our third winery of the day was the Waterford Estate for paired chocolate & wine tasting. 

We rounded off the day with a trip to a friend’s gym (Ballistix CrossFit) in Somerset West and a modified Fight Gone Bad. Now in hindsight, FGB after wine tasting might not have been the best idea. But it seemed like a brilliant plan when we made it. J

The braai that followed the workout was a much needed reprieve. Besides, dinner and drinks with a great bunch of people makes pretty much anything worth while.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Coffee, Beach Sprints, Coffee, Breakfast

A morning of happiness. 
Waking up at a lake-side/ocean-side (yes, both) B&B after a much deserved sleep-in. Plunger coffee (that would French press coffee for us Americans) made in our room. 

Head to this beach --> 

Sprints 2x100, 4x200, 2x100. 

Topped off with breakfast (mmmm, bacon)

And more coffee.

Road Trip Food

I don’t know what it is about long drives that makes me crave corn nuts, but it’s a fact of my existence. Every time I get in the car for a road trip, my first gas station purchase is a generally a bag of corn nuts. When we stopped for gas outside Cape Town, my normal craving kicked in, but it seemed safe to assume that I wouldn’t be able to satisfy it. Ellie confirmed my suspicion saying that she’d never seen corn nuts anywhere in South Africa. However, at the Sedgefield Market there was unexpected success. Chutney flavored corn nuts = win.

I Miss High Speed Internet

I’m pretty sure my dial-up connection from the mid 90’s was faster than my connection here in Cape Town. Okay, I might be exaggerating, but not by much. 

Putt Putt on the Beach, Sundowners, and Café Africa

Are you ever too old to play putt putt? Of course not. We might actually have had more fun than all the families and kiddos out there. Between the actual competition between David and Talia, Jake’s power shot style, and my complete inability to land a single hole-in-one, there was almost as much entertainment from the game itself as from the goofing off that went along with it. The best part was having to let a family with 3 kiddos play through, because they were playing much more seriously. Well, that and the handstands on the hill.

The next goal was to enjoy sundowners. Which we didn’t. We watched the sun setting from the car as we tried to hurry to a nearby café/bar. Naturally, we still found a great place, had a tasty drink, and watched the post-sunset beach.

When I go to a place like Café Africa, I can’t help but feeling like a white tourist – especially when the other tables are full of other white folks snapping photos of the employees and generally behaving in a touristy manner. It definitely made me happy to be there with friends who just sit back and enjoy what is offered. We had a 14+ course meal with food representing 10 different countries in Africa. Everything was delicious.  The staff came through at one point and sang for us. It was quite an experience for me. Back in high school, we performed several songs that I can only vaguely describe as being African call-and-answer style pieces. I was even the solo/leader for one of them. I remember them as being very beautiful and powerful songs, but there was a richer texture to the singing done by half a dozen restaurant employees that I don’t think we ever pulled off.

If there is one lesson to be learned from this it is: Eat oysters! Lots of them.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Buying Electricity in South Africa

For starters, you do it at a gas station (which is actually a petrol station). So, you hop down to the petrol station on the corner, buy however much energy you think you need and they give you a couple of codes to punch into your meter at home. This is what it looks like at Ellie’s house (while cooking chicken):

Seasons in South Africa

In connection with my training at University of Colorado School of Medicine, I am spending my summer (well winter here) in Cape Town, South Africa. The academic purpose of being here is to 1) train my skills in emergency medicine at Tygerberg Hospital and 2) to conduct research regarding the outcomes of penetrating traumas in tertiary care centers with minimal or no support. I’m not exactly sure what that will involve just yet, but I’m looking forward to finding out starting in July. In the meantime, I’m here in SA with plans to check out Cape Town, do some wine tasting and traveling, and get ready for my research.  

It’s winter here. I keep calling it summer, because I’m on summer break between classes, but it’s important to note that chill winds are blowing. I packed for a good Colorado spring. Which is to say that I brought everything from shorts & tank tops to good snow and rain gear. So far it seems I planned well. It would seem a lot warmer if it weren’t for the crazy winds. They definitely drive the perceived temperatures down. I do find it an odd sort of trend, though, that I seem to enjoy spending my winters at the beach. Hawaii last December and SA now. J

One of my many goals while I’m here is to get myself back into fighting shape. In order to make that happen, I’ve joined Cape CrossFit with Ellie. I think we’ve even convinced Talia to join us. It should be good fun and great for getting strong and healthy. Once I’ve moved out to Sea Point, I will be adding beach runs to my routine.

Another thing to find in Cape Town is a place with reliable, fast Internet. It might be a bit much to ask, but I’m sure going to try. Internet here is dodgy and slow at best.

Enter the mouth of the dragon... it's right up there

This much fun should be illegal

Smugness in the Muizenberg Night Market

Old Biscuit Mill Saturday Market

If there is any one thing you wanted to do in South Africa, what would it be? 

So I haven’t written in… well, a year.

Between figuring out my new life at school and keeping up with the amazing opportunities that being a medical student affords, I haven’t had much time to reflect and write about the events of my life. Part of me wishes I could go back and chronicle the past year of my life as a medical student, but I just can’t bring myself to sacrifice the time I know that would require. Suffice it to say that it has been fascinating, exciting, exhausting, and repeatedly humbling. I’ve given more than I thought I had in me and been shown that sometimes even that is not enough. I’ve touched the lives of people around me with simple gestures. I can only hope that the people I connect with get as much out of it as I do. You spend years of your life sacrificing and working to get into medical school, but nothing can possibly prepare you for actual experience. If I had to sum up my first year in a bit of advice it would be, “Brace for impact.” Be ready to accept the challenges. Work harder than you’ve ever worked in your life. Seize every opportunity, whether you think you have time or energy for it. There are so many things that are available only to medical students, don’t get so caught up that you miss out on these opportunities. But don’t lose your balance. I discovered it was important to keep a bit of myself back, but not as much as you might think. It’s much more fun to put yourself out there.
  Things I’ve done this year: sutured more than 15 people (including a man’s face), volunteered at the Denver Rescue Mission, administered care in Stout Street homeless clinic, watched chest tubes placed, started a dozen IVs, scored lower on a test than I did in 5 years of college (and survived it), figured out that my rotator cuff is partially torn without ever setting foot into a doctors office, won free Avalanche tickets from Dr. French, given out free over-the-counter medications and supplements through the Broadway Assistance Center, helped cast/splint a handful of people, organized events, ice skated in downtown Denver, helped incoming and prospective students, celebrated with my classmates, learned and taught surgical knot tying skills, been elected to the UCSOM Surgical Society board, still managed to get some skiing and climbing in, practiced EKGs in an ambulance, pulled over 70 sutures out of one woman’s feet, drank more wine than I can mention, learned that medical politics are even more frustrating that I thought, watched a heart catheterization, met a class full of people that will be part of my life forever. I also went to Hawaii for winter break, went to NYC for spring break, moved to the beautiful City Park area of Denver, and was part of a very special friend’s wedding.
To be completely honest with myself, I don’t think I was really going to make it through this year until it actually happened. One quarter of med school is over. I find that exciting and baffling at the same time. The one thing I definitely got out of it is that this is really going to happen. Now I just have to make it amazing!