22 December 2010

Volleyball, BBQ's, Dog Sitting... Christmas time in Laj

This year, Christmas is going to be a little different. Firstly, there's no decorations in our house or a Christmas tree, which makes it feel a bit un-Christmassy. But there is a mail plane that comes in once a week, laden down with presents and packages which reminds me of those daggy Australian Christmas cards where Santa is wearing thongs and driving a ute (having left his summer-phobic reindeer north of the equator).

Surprisingly, the people here actually do Christmas to an extent. Houses have been decorated with lights, the local shop has got a mini-toy section where parents can put stuff on layby, and this morning I saw one of the local cars had tinsel around its rear view mirror. (There wasn't any intact windows in the car nor did it have any workable tyres, but apparently thats not so important).

We are not sure how Christmas is going to go down here, work wise. The clinic is closed from Christmas Day through to the 28th inclusive and then again from the 1st to the 3rd of January other than for emergencies, but we are losing our doctor to a holiday in Samoa and two other nurses have finished their contracts leaving us with only 4 nurses to manage. Even the Lajamanu pilots are heading off. So it could be either a walk in the park or absolutely atrocious. The population is quite transient, so a lot will go away, visit families in other communities or just go bush so we may have less patients than normal or we may have people from other communities stopping by, and a skeleton staff to look after them. Yet to be determined.

In other news we have befriended the local pilots, a bunch of 20 something bachelors, who fly our clients in and out of Katherine for appointments, as well as Katherine West clinical staff. They all live in this bachelor pad donga, complete with a inflatable wading pool on the verandah and a volleyball net in the backyard. Evenings now consist of BBQ's, light beers (we are in Laj after all) volleyball (Lajamanu rules apply - one bounce is fine), and word is that a chess club might be on the horizon. I tell you, our social events calendar is getting pretty full.

Not to mention that from tonight we are also dog sitting.

Our GP has left her Whippet/German Shepherd cross with us while she's away. Chopper (our clinic dog) is quite miffed that Ellie has moved in on her turf. Ellie presents as a slightly anxious dog, lovely temperament but that could be because she is on HRT. Our GP advised us that a weekly dose of her 'happy pill' will keep us all content!

I'm just hoping that her and Chopper won't get into any scraps. Chopper is, as previously mentioned a camp dog, so hence she's like Jenny from the block, and would probably use phrases like "oh no you didn't!" before launching into a full on cat (or dog?) fight . Ellie is a bit like a elite school student who would much prefer to play lacrosse and learn French and debate her way out of an argument.

So it could be interesting, hopefully they won't get into any scraps. Luckily our GP has given us a 'Not for Resuscitation' order on her dog, which means if Chopper and Ellie do get into a bitch fight, and Ellie loses, we don't have commence CPR. That's a relief. Nothing worse than trying to intubate a dog.

So that's about all from us, thank you for all the lovely cards, messages and packages that have arrived... We miss you all and are chuffed that you are thinking of us
Lots of love xxx

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