Site icon The Adventures of a "Not-So-Traveled" Travel Nurse

The Islands (Week 6)


When we first arrived, I remember losing sleep and being slightly annoyed by the footsteps above me and the loud birds in the jungle surrounding us. Now I find it comforting (more evidence that perspective is relative). It is the first time in my existence that I have been alone. My husband went back home to make a few events in Ft. Worth and Cheyenne, and Wookie and Mary didn’t get to come with me on this assignment. I have always had a pet or a person near me until now. The stomping above me and the birds in the jungle reassure me that I am not entirely alone.

I experienced my first earthquake this past week. It shook the entire hospital. It lasted about 10 seconds (but it felt more like 10 minutes). The sensation was a combination of the worst vertigo that I had ever experienced along with the chest sensation that you have when lightning strikes near you. No one was hurt, but we did experience an increase in ER visits that day due to people with PTSD and anxiety.

I am learning new words and phrases here. The language is not hard to learn from an audio standpoint, but the visual part is difficult. The words seem to have an excess of vowels and very few consonants (the alphabet only has 12 letters), so it can be difficult to read. It is especially difficult if you learned to read by phonics (which I did), those rules do not apply here. I am fortunate that the people here are so gracious and seem happy to constantly pronounce words/names for me so that I can say them correctly. One thing that I find interesting is that the language contains a phrase for “Thank You”, but not one for “You’re welcome”. I learned of this the first week that I was here. Their phrase for “Thank you” is so frequently used that I asked a few people about what the proper response should be. It doesn’t exist, it’s just a cultural difference, I guess.

It’s hard to believe that I am half way through this contract. I have learned that the assignments have phases for me. The beginning is all excitement, meeting new people, settling in, locating necessities, etc. During this current phase (the middle), I find myself longing for home, but I also notice myself trying to “plant roots”. It can be emotionally confusing as I start to really value the new relationships with staff/coworkers, but am also aware that I will have to say “Good bye”, most likely to never see them again. It creates a longing for stability and permanence within me, which is probably why I start trying to “plant roots” or long for home where my “roots” are planted so deep. I think Simone Weil captured it best in a book that she wrote in 1943, “To be rooted is perhaps the most important and least recognized need of the human soul. It is one of the hardest to define”. (I’m with you on that, Simone). There are so many constant challenges with travel nursing, but this one is the most difficult of all for me.

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