Monday, July 21, 2008

Week One

I have a gecko. He's small and newt-like. He lives behind my shower head at the moment. Everyone else on island has a resident gecko, and now I do, too. I hope to watch him grow (not too much larger) and I think I'll name him Charlie, or Timothy. Maybe Heinrich. My gecko could be female, but the way he was checking me out in the shower makes me think otherwise, plus, how many chicks would hide in the shower to introduce themselves to another lady?

I've been in Saipan for over a week now. I arrived late last Thursday night. My flight here was actually, not bad at all. Every flight went smoothly; 4 hours to Houston, 8 hours to Honolulu, 8 hours to Guam; and 40 minutes to Saipan. The only hitch in my giddy-up was when after many, many hours of traveling we had an unexpectedly long layover in Guam. Why? The plane just never showed up. Who knows what happened to the plane, but it wasn't there and so we waited until the last flight from Saipan arrived; they cleaned it up real nice for us; the pilot had a smoke; they dished out some "Hawaii Chips," and we eventually made it to Saipan. It was a nice and easy introduction to how things work around here.

Upon my arrival, another MPH student from my school picked me up. I've always loved airport pickups because it's always a time of smiles and relief. Whether you're going home or taking off, it's always good to be there. When I arrived the large security guard, with whom the other student was speaking with, gave me a great big, sweaty hug and said, "Welcome!"

I started work on Friday, but was treated to the buffet lunch at the Hyatt, and then a BBQ celebrating Bastille day (yes, it is random) that night. The following day started with a swim in an outdoor Olympic pool full of salt water. Later that day I went on a long walk along Beach Path with the new Pediatric doc here, who arrived just before me, but is friends with the people that are running the project I'm working on; so, we know each other already and have spent a lot of time together. That night I participated in a Hash. The CNMI Hash is supposed to be one of the best, and for being my first Hash it certainly left an impression on me. For those who aren't sure what I'm talking about, I will explain more later.

Sunday, started with the most amazing brunch I have ever had in my ENTIRE life. It again, was at the Hyatt, and we spent three hours there. It was beautiful; gluttonous and a perfect Sunday meal. That afternoon I tried to actually grocery shop here, which is more challenging than one would think. Everything is super expensive; there's a 50% off expired dairy section; the grocery store produce comes in once a week in a package, and the cereal could very well be stale and expired like many other carb products on the shelves. However, I came out $70 later with some shampoo, pasta, sauce, yogurt, cereal, peanut butter, and bread.

That evening, I went to see Batman! AWESOME! I'll leave it to Deuce to write more about Batman, but I have to say it was probably the best Batman I've ever seen.

So, my week has flown by as I've been at the hospital going through medical records all day long ("all day" here meaning show up at 8; start work around 8:30; lunch at 11:30 until about 1:30; and then 3 more hours of work. I'm home before five.) and then either going to the gym, to dinner, to the beach or to a market afterwards to pass the few hours I have before I head to bed. Nights here are quiet, and mornings are cool, so, I try to do a lot outside between 5:45am and 7am.

It's all good, no complaints. Lots of busy work, and little time to catch up with everyone. Saipan is beautiful, friendly, buggy and hot. There are tons of stray dogs and cars. Everyone smiles, and EVERYONE says, "hello." I'm liking it here, but can't wait for Deuce to come out and for us to head home to autumn weather!

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