Thursday, January 9, 2014

Traveling Alone + Cuy!

I again started the morning with a short run.  Intermittent at first, with Joaquin and his cousin, then Benji joined us.  I needed to return to the house fast so I could have enough time to get ready, so I ran probably ¾ of a mile without stopping.  Still not much, but I’ll get there.  I need to figure out how to get a good workout in when kids are with me.  Again, something I’m not used to.  I love how excited Joaquin is though.  He was awake at 5:15 and waited 45 minutes to run with me at 6.  That’s commitment. 

I thought Proworld was sending someone to bring me to the clinic again today, so when no one was there at 7:30 I called Lalo on my new cell phone.  It took a while to communicate with him since he had to call the other staff.  I honestly didn’t care if someone came, I just didn’t want to leave and have them show up after that.  So I took the bus myself.  And it went well, although I still need to figure out my stop names so I can respond that I need to get off there.  It’s a much more chaotic system than buses I know in the US.  The person who collects the money shouts all the stop names very fast and if no one responds for a stop they skip it.  This actually happened going both ways, where they skipped my stop.  It wasn’t a big deal, but I did have to walk a little extra. 

The first 2 hours were exciting in the clinic.  I was first surprised when my supervisor (Betty) asked me where my breathing mask was from the day before.  I had no idea, since it hadn’t even occurred to me that I should save it.  In the US, that would never happen.  She also commented on my beautiful eyes haha.  We had a patient that needed a thorax and a hand X-ray, so I got to see both.  Betty explained the differences in settings between the 2 scans.  It makes since, you don’t need as intense of X-rays if you’re going through the hand instead of the chest.  I appreciated her doing that, since I think it indicates that she deems me competent enough to invest time into.  Always a good start.  I later helped with a few other tasks around the office.  I was able to talk to a few more patients today as well.  While a girl around my age was waiting for Betty to return from somewhere, we started talking about Peru and the usual subjects I have vocab in.  I’ve started at least 5 conversations with “Are you from Cuzco?”  Apparently she’s starting to study English, though she didn’t know much more than how to say her name.  She asked for my contact info so that she could practice in the future.  I do hope to expand my network of Peruvian friends, and this could be a great opportunity to do so.  For the rest of the day I made little pouches for drugs out of scrap paper.  I’m pretty sure there was some patient information on those papers, but apparently HIPPA isn’t as big of a deal here.  I did also find some price sheets, which were very interesting.  An X-ray costs 10 soles, which is under $4.  Sutures would be no more than $7 for big wounds.  Those are just 2 examples, but it shows how different the pricing is here.  Today I also witnessed a woman asking Betty how she could pay for the visit, since someone in her family needed healthcare but they didn’t have the resources to pay for it.  She was in tears.  I think she must have been from a rural area, since she was wearing clothes customary of rural Peruvians.  That shows the extent of poverty in Peru.  The procedures are so cheap, but there are still a number of people who can’t afford them.  In the US, the impoverished might still have a beat-up car, a cell phone, and a tv.  Not to say poverty in the US isn’t real or important, but we can often take for granted just how much we have in our country.  The poverty in the Cuzco region is 50% as a whole, but only 25% within the city.  I’ll leave it up to you to figure out the poverty rate in the less populated rural regions.

For lunch, I had cuy (guinea pig)!  It has a very distinct flavor, and I must confess that I thought it tasted pretty good.  Trying to get it all is the trick though.  So many little bones to worry about. 

Nothing from the evening is too exciting to report.  I had another Spanish lesson, and I learned some good stuff; not all of it was review.  It feels like we’re going to review everything I know in a week or 2, then move on.  My teacher is such a goofball.  He kept asking me questions to respond to, and I think girls came up at least 4 times.  He’s fun though, I’m glad I have an exciting and animated teacher instead of a boring one. 

At dinner, I started to feel sick.  I hardly touched my food.  I did have some great conversations with my family though.  Not all the volunteers have been good to them.  Several were just very strange, and one went out to the club every night during his 15 day stay.  That’s just crazy, not a healthy way to live.  Apparently of all of them, I speak the best Spanish.  I have no idea who these other people are and why they’re coming to Peru with such little language background.  I guess they weren’t really thinking of having any more volunteers, but ProWorld called them when they were in Lima for Joaquin’s lip surgery (he had a little bit of a cleft lip) and they decided to take me.  Good stuff, I’m glad they did.  After showing everyone pictures of my house in Michigan buried in snow, I went to bed to read and write this.  I wasn’t feeling good, so I didn’t write.  Later I got up and had some symptoms that I won’t describe to you in detail, although they aren’t entirely uncommon for a traveler.  I did feel better afterward so maybe this will pass quickly. 

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