ADRIENNE'S HIV BLOG – Hivine's Weblog

HIVINE is written by HIV positive women but still with a sense of humour

Mad Mexican Cowgirl!

Think must have caught a chill from yesterdays soaking – woke up in night in big luxurious bed with hacking cough – was warned about possible breathing problems for people with dodgy chests in information pack, due to high altitude, made worse presumably by big luxurious bed being half way to moon in high rise tower block.

Routed around in mini bar and found pack of soothing sweets to suck on called ‘Jolly Ranchers.’ Stuck one in mouth and thanks to jet lag, immediately dropped back off. Woke up next morning at six with alarm clock beeping away, stuck tongue out at oneself in huge magnifying mirror, as one does, and jumped back in alarm. Tongue bright blue. Turquoise even. Tried to scrub tongue with toothbrush, but no luck. Could strange coloured tongue have been caused by new meds, some of which are bright blue? Had pills gone off on route, not been kept, even with freezer bags, at correct temperature?

Had been warned about yellow eyes, but blue tongue?

Can’t make first public appearance as delegate, or even market stall holder, with yellow eyes and blue tongue. Then remembered falling asleep with sweet in mouth.

Moral – one which every American or Mexican mother worth her salt will instil in her daughter from the day she is born – never fall asleep sucking on a jolly rancher, not if you don’t want to wake up with a blue tongue and mad cowgirl disease, or something that looks like the equivalent of foot and mouth.

Felt like a mad cow as it was, walking around on wobbly legs and banging into things, due to long journey and jet lag – as well as tower block appearing to move and sway (which apparently high buildings do) beneath one’s feet. Swear whole of Mexico is moving and constantly rumbling from so much traffic, too many people etc. unless tis beginnings of another earthquake of course. Not allowed to mention earthquakes – people tend to cross themselves, a bit like saying Macbeth in the theatre, or whistling on a boat incase you bring on the wind. No need to whistle with these new meds by the way – a blue tongued, yellow eyed delegate with the wind, not a very inspiring picture is it.

Not keen on lifts either, especially when it is thundering and lightening – what if power gets cut off and am stuck in lift on eighteenth floor. Think will carry extra meds with me at all times just in case.

Wonderful breakfast buffet – cactus juice, passion fruit, Mexican styled eggs, huevos rancheros – think will pass on those case have same effect as jolly ranchers.

Head off with rest of team through busy walkway and rows of market stalls selling steaming tacos and brightly coloured fruits and drinks, which have been advised not to buy. Shame. Get on bus to Global Village, very early in morning but thousands of delegates and stall holders heading to conference. Bus takes forever – tooting horns, whistling policemen (must be suffering from wind too) green Volkswagen taxis, dilapidated wagons, people risking lives trying to sell things in middle of road – chewing gum, batteries. Not polluted as had feared, air crystal clear, sunny but fresh. Bus chugs along, often stuck in tooting horns traffic jam and finally arrives at global village, which is in the Las Americas Hippodrome. Nearly bowled over by bustling life and vibrancy of throngs of people from all over the globe which greets us as we walk through enormous marquee and locate our promotion booth. Bongos bonging, people dancing, groups of people already protesting, different costumes. Indian, African, Asian, Mexican.

We find our booth and start to set up – oh no, disaster, have failed in my first and most important duty as delegate for BP, left washing line and clothes pegs back at hotel, therefore cannot peg out tee-shirts. Spread them out on table in total disorganised confusion and people start buying them right away. We have tee shirts designed by each group representing Body Positive – the children, the gay men, the blood borne virus group and positive women of course, designed by me, plus postcards and brochures to promote our services and our pilot project the POCT Rapid HIV testing.

Poor Rob, or Phil Mitchell as he was later to be christened due to hairstyle, or lack of hairstyle and natural eastender market stall holder talents, had to get back on bus to collect pegs and washing line from my suitcase in hotel. Missed opening ceremony thanks to peg delay, but was able to catch bits of it on huge screen in global village. Mexican ballet with wide swirly skirts – have to get one of those and maybe get chance to learn some Mexican dancing – don’t think there will be much hope of that, so much to do, so much to see and learn, so many people to talk to. There are plenarys, workshops and seminars all day long, from seven o’clock in morning.

No Peggys Mitchell (i.e. me) abandons others on market stall and slips out to smoking point – good job she didn’t give up smoking as meets all kinds of interesting people out there having a fag. Bob Monkhouse for example, a name one wouldn’t easily forget, but not in ghost form, this Bob was from Bali with his carer, a lovely Balinese girl, both from an HIV centre in Bali – invitation to visit for something to do with HIV/AIDS next year. Always wanted to go to Bali, always wanted to come to Mexico and here I am. Strange how HIV is opening up my world. This is amazing, to be with all these people, many of them also positive, as well as those fighting for the cause.

The Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon helped to officially open the Conference at the Global Village which is described as a space for communities living with and affected by HIV, as well as policymakers, researchers and the general public to share information and ideas about the pandemic. While at the Village, the Secretary-General and his wife, Ban Soon-taek heard from people who are infected with HIV in an interactive discussion. He emphasized that the people he had met were at the heart of the AIDS response, and he told them, “I profoundly admire your courage and commitment.” He called for renewed leadership in eradicating stigma and discrimination associated with HIV.

Hear, hear!

Speaking to reporters after his meeting with the president, Ban commended Mexico for providing regional leadership in the response to the AIDS pandemic, including the president’s call to combat all forms of HIV-related stigma and discrimination and for an end to homophobia.

Absolutely – an end to HIV related stigma, seems to be one of the main focuses of the conference as well as issues relating to HIV positive women.

A note here from Fiona Petitt of ICW, International Community of Women living with HIV/AIDS, of which I am also very proud to be a member. “Mony Pen, a long time ICW member and founder of the Positive Women’s Network in Cambodia, was chosen to speak at the opening ceremony. You can see pictures of her if you go to think link At past conferences there has been justified outrage about where the speaker representing people living with HIV is in the programme – oftentimes they have been at the very end. This time, Mony was placed after Peter Piot and before the ex-president of Botswana spoke – a huge improvement.”

It was great to meet up with Fiona and also Silvia from POZ – FEM at the conference.

Back on the bus and back to the hotel. Two margaritas later then bed – legs still swaying, not helped I fear by consummation of alcohol. Could hardly get key or card in door, was so tired, head buzzing with information, all the new people had met, bloody tee-shirts flashing before eyes and the margaritas making bed appear to spin. Won’t be sucking on any Jolly Ranchers tonight, needless to say.

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