Stage 6 Happy Thanksgiving
Today was going to be the easy day. It’s not unusual in the race to have a short stage midway through. Today was only 70 K and not much significant elevation. A break should get up the road and we can rest. Unfortunately at 1 AM though, Will came to the door feeling horrible. He had the stomach bug and there was not much I was going to be able to do. I tried a few things but Will just looked horrible in the morning so we pulled him before anything worse could happen to him. A funny part though was when he came to the door at 1 AM, the first thing he said was “ I feel horrible” quickly followed by “Wait, you guys are sharing a bed?” Yep…
Because of Will not riding, he took my spot in the team car and I had to go find a ride. I hooked up with the Doctor for the race, Dr. Albert. This was pretty cool. Apparently in Rwanda med school it is 6 years and they all come out trained in general practice. He is now 2 years into his general surgery training and 2 more to go and then he wants to do orthopedics which is 2 years. All of his training is here in Rwanda and he seemed to one smart dude. His training is obviously very Western based. He tells me that Rwandan health care is sort of run like a co-op. You pay 3100 francs ($5.00) per year and you are given a government insurance card. If you get sick in your village you present to the local clinic where they determine what else you need. The clinics are run by nurses and doctors come at least 3 days a week. If the issue is complex they may need to take you to the hospital and all provinces are required to have at least 5 ambulances per province. Dr. Albert was quite proud of their system and it sounds far superior to surrounding countries where tribal bush medicine is still mainly practiced. I asked him how these same medical beliefs had been removed here and it sounds like there was a very robust education program in the past 10 years reaching out to the countryside to teach them that “witching” was not medicine. There still are pockets where witching is practiced but traditional medicine is much more accepted here which may be why our diabetes talks are so well received.
The stage was short and uneventful and finished in a town that seems the least developed of any we have seen so far, however we are staying at a pretty nice hotel. It’s about 2 K away from town and in a compound with an armed guard but it’s all run by nuns. As with any good nun establishment it has a nice bar within the compound and the food is quite good. We all get own rooms and each shower has a hot water heater above the shower you have to plug in a little ahead of time. Our photographer, John, described the furnishings as “1985 Ohio Motel” and as I have a point of reference on this, I think he is pretty close – lots of light tans fluorescent lights and a tiny TV. Again the people are very helpful and friendly but it’s been raining pretty hard and the town itself was sketchy so I think I am going to celebrate Thanksgiving at the nun encampment. Happy Thanksgiving to all of you back home.