A Zimbabwe elective experience
Iain McNamara reports on his elective in Zimbabwe, where involvement in a war, an economy in crisis, and doctors' strikes ensured a memorable experience.
As I hauled my travel-weary body, along with its grotesquely tied burden of baggage, through the main entrance of Harare railway station, the news vendor saw me coming. “How are you?” he bellowed cheerfully - the universal Zimbabwean greeting which I was to come to know well. “Just arrived,” I replied chirpily. He roared with delight as he took my money in exchange for a copy of the Zimbabwe Standard, and wished me a safe journey. The train carrying me to my 10 week elective post in Bulawayo Central Hospital trundled with grim determination through the inky blackness of the African night. With equally grim determination, I wedged myself into the rock-hard corner seat of the elderly railway carriage. I had, at last, been able to untie from my body the 10 kg of stoma bags that I was carrying out from the UK. They had been vigorously pummelled into