Thursday, February 6, 2014

Spanish Wins and Losses

I stayed home from work today because of a cough that kept me up at night.  I needed fluids and rest, especially if I’m going to Puno tomorrow night.  Puno is at a higher altitude, so it is cooler and drier; I don’t want to go there sick.  Not interested.  Because of this, I thought I would have no interesting stories to tell you today.  I was wrong.

Around 11:00, I went to the pharmacy to get cough medicine.  Finding medications is different than in the US.  I would have loved to go find some cough drops.  Instead, I had to ask for the medication that my family told me to get.  Tusilexil.  The first place didn’t have it.  The second had one bottle left.  I didn’t understand everything the clerk said, but she asked if oral medication was ok and I said yes.  I was tired and didn’t want to be out much, so I didn’t ask more questions.  

On my way home from work, Sandro called me and asked where I was.  I was nearly home at this point, so I told him that.  He then told me that my medication was for children under the age of 1.  Ooops.  That goes to show that my Spanish is still far from perfect.  I should have read the label better, but she asked me if I wanted it while it was still on the shelf so I didn’t get to look at it.  That’s the strange thing here.  If I’d have had time in an unpressured environment to look over the shelves and read labels, I would have been fine.  But again, Peru has a different system.  Sandro was gracious enough to accompany me to the pharmacy this time, so I got the correct stuff.  I was glad to put that behind me.  Now hopefully the medicine works well and I can do the same with the sickness.

The next exciting thing today was that I was able to talk with an MD/PhD student named Meghan who works with Wuqu’ Kawoq, an organization in Guatemala that provides healthcare to the Mayan speakers of the region.  Previously it was virtually impossible for this population to get good care.  I am very curious in this for several reasons.  One, it is run by an MD/PhD and I’m curious how his PhD in the sciences has impacted his time in Guatemala.  Two, there is a chance that my life’s calling could be something similar to what is being done here.  The bible makes it very clear that God cares for the oppressed.  If I really want to come alongside God’s heart, arguably the best way to do it would be to spend time with the group of people most marginalized from mainstream society.  Guatemala is already a very poor country, and those who live in the mountains and speak only the indigenous language are likely the poorest.  This isn’t entirely dissimilar to the mountainous Quechua speakers I’ve described to you in previous posts.


Today, the conversation was to be in Spanish in order to determine what role I’ll play during the summer.  Meghan told me that my Spanish was good, so I will be conducting surveys in a rural town called Paquip for the summer.  The surveys relate to the anthropology research of the 2 MD/PhD students who are affiliated with Wuqu’ Kawoq.  I was flattered that she thought my Spanish was good, I certainly don’t have enough formal training that I’d be considered for an opportunity like this.  I feel very blessed that my Spanish is progressing as it is.  The town I’d be living in is called Tecpan.  It’s not a huge city, but it is decent sized.  There is virtually no tourism there, so it will have a different feel than Cuzco.  This place is still in the mountains at about 7,000 feet.  That would surely seem like a lot to me if I wasn’t already living above 11,000 feet.  The team members of Wuqu’ Kawoq are generally the only people there who are not native Guatemalans.  The drive to tourist areas isn’t too far, so it should be easy to go there on some weekends.  There are 3 other students that will be there during the summer.  One is doing about the same as me since her Spanish is good.  The other 2 are still up in the air, and I’m not sure if their Spanish is very functional.  That is of course a major hindrance to participation in these projects.  It sounds like it will be very flexible.  I’ll be doing interviews for about 4-5 hours a day.  Much of the rest of the time will be spent with my host family there.  Having an open schedule is great, because I was hoping to be able to write my secondary applications to medical school during the summer.  I will be able to find reliable internet in the city.  Maybe in my house, maybe in coffee shops.  The 2 doctors I’ll be working with are from Harvard and Mayo; an elite group was drawn to this project.  I know that I’m going to need to finish my Peru projects before I start something new, but I am very excited for this experience.  

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