Goma can turn up the heat during the day. Occasionally, the sun seems to migrate just above the hospital and gift us with a few hours of unrelenting, blistering rays. While seeing patients or resuscitating a newborn under the infant warmer, the sweat pools on my brow and runs off my body in a continuous stream. Then, the moment I step from the patient’s room, dust settles on my damp skin and I become a sticky mess.
As work concludes each day, I fantasize of a swim in cool water. Lake Kivu, the clear water adjacent to my apartment would seem like the ideal cleanse, but I have learned the lake water is infested with a parasite causing a disease named schistosomiasis. It is an easily treatable disease with few consequences, but for some reason, I am afraid and have not developed the nerve to take the plunge. I simply watch the hoards of children and mzungus frolicking in the water and then return to my apartment and take a shower. Oh well, I guess I have become a craven 33 year-old man.