We got up early today in order to get to the clinic in time for rounds. The bus situation wasn’t too bad this morning, but we did have to stand for most of the time. When we arrived at the clinic we found Dr. Jorge much more easily than usual. I’m not sure why he spoke in Spanish instead of English with her, but he told me the clinic was my house so I could show her whatever I wanted. Obviously, just walking through the hallways is very different for Meghan. I had the same experience only 2 months ago. She first saw TBC from the outside, although it wasn’t anything too spectacular. There isn’t much to see there. I could show her the X-ray room too because the door was open by Dr. Jorge’s office. We then headed to the sala de partos. Nothing was going on when we arrived; they hadn’t done the visit and no one was in the dilation room. Too bad, I was hoping for Meghan to see a birth today. That really is an experience unlike any other. I showed her the facilities for a little while, then Kate arrived and we chatted with her. Eventually Dr. Maria arrived for the rounds. She’s the Spanish looking one who speaks some English. That was nice for Meghan, but the rounds were still done in Spanish since that’s how she and the other employees were trained. There weren’t any significant problems in the babies or the mothers, but one did need a drip removed. Meghan had to bite her tongue at several points when she saw bad form in clinical procedures, such as the needle removal. The lack of glove use was also hard for her to see, since in her experience gloves are worn absolutely every time a patient is touched, especially when blood is potentially involved.
Next we moved on to Tópico, which was hopping today. Julia is so sweet and was happy to see us. She’s such a welcoming woman, I know Meghan appreciated the warm greeting even if Julia doesn’t speak English. The procedure going on at the time was a toe nail extraction, which I hadn’t even seen during my 2 weeks there. It is a fairly painful and grotesque procedure. She injected anesthetic into the area, then went to work. The man was still uncomfortable during the process. She had to peel the nail up from the skin, then cut off about half of it that was apparently misbehaving in some way. Bloody. At the end she covered it with gauze, then cut off the glove covering her left thumb and put that over the wound. Resourceful, yes. But Meghan was thinking of all the sanitation implications of this procedure. The sweat from Julia’s hand was then plastered to the wound. Her thumb was unprotected for the last part of the procedure. Such is the nature of medicine here. Resourceful, but not quite as safe as it could be.
To round out our time in the clinic, I took Meghan to get Quinoa at the little shop I always go to. I loved it as always, but it was only ok for her. Almost on cue, Wilson, Andy and Kate came and joined us soon after we got there. They’re so fun, I was glad Meghan got to see their goofy side. Wilson and I pretended to have duels with pistols at random times throughout the morning as usual, etc.
At this point we headed out because we had to go home for the internet and to withdraw soles for the gift purchases. Those were uneventful, but took a little longer than expected so we changed our lunch meeting time with the girls to 1:30.
Unfortunately Michelle was unable to come because of her college applications that were due today (she’s transferring after 2 years of community college), but Kate and Rani came. We went to the same little place as last Thursday with ProWorld, which has great food. Good soup, and Meghan loved the aji de gallina: a very traditional Peruvian dish. It’s hard to describe, but I had it in Nazca and loved it. It was a good, light-hearted talk. And I think it was all for something absurd like 10 soles.
After lunch Meghan and I had to part ways with the girls because we had shopping to do in the Artisan Market and they were headed to San Pedro. I first took her to San Blas, although there wasn’t all that much to see there. Sadly, the fountain was turned off. We didn’t go to any of the lookouts because what we saw from Christo Blanco was better than anything San Blas could offer. Second we headed to a shoe place where Kate had purchased her boots. Hers were so cool, I wanted to get something similar to send back to the US while I still could use the room in Meghan’s bag. I found some that I liked, but nothing was my size. Therefore the man who makes the shoes got out a piece of paper, measured my foot, and wrote down the colors and patterns that I wanted. I thought that was an incredibly cool service. And even if it was a little expensive for Peru, $30 for a pair of hand-made boots with beautiful Peruvian patterns is a steal. They seem very well-made; I don’t think they will have the same fate as my backpack.
On our way down to the market, we decided to stop by the Qoricancha, which was once the sun temple of the Incas. After the Spanish conquest, it was converted into the church of the Dominicans. The overlay of these 2 very different architectures and ideologies made it a fascinating place. There are still stones once used for sacrifice and Incan walls, but there were also colonial doorways, arches, and paintings. It was beautiful, I was happy that we got to enjoy this together. Sometimes it’s good that I haven’t seen things because then I get to see them with the same fresh eyes as Meghan. I’d say that was a good thing about our trip as a whole; some things I already knew, but much of it we were both seeing with fresh eyes.
Finally, after these adventures, we went to the markets. First was the Qoricancha Market, but we weren’t planning on getting much there because it’s smaller and tends to be more expensive. Meghan found a ring she liked for Mackenzie, but the seller wasn’t willing to bargain the price so we figured we’d go elsewhere. Meghan also found a headband she liked here which was quite inexpensive and cool. From the same vendor I saw a sweater I liked, and after some bargaining I got it for what I thought was the lowest price I could get; barely over $10. The quality is better than the sweater with llamas on it that I already bought. The vendor said that after 2 hand-washes, I could use the machine wash cold. That’s nice, I doubt the llama one is the same. In the other market we found more quality stuff. I got a few awesome blankets that I’d actually believe were hand-made by women in the towns surrounding Cuzco. They look very durable and authentic, so I found a color scheme I thought dad would like and got him one. Again, bargaining and being prepared to leave were very useful in this situation. I found mom a nice table-runner with bright Peruvian colors too. Meghan bought a mug for her brothers’ fiancé from a vendor who actually spoke English. She also found another ring for her sister that she really liked, and this lady was willing to work with us so we got it. Perhaps the most treasured find was the last blanket that Meghan got for her dad. It was a beautiful piece of work. I may go back there before I leave to get another one for my family.
In the evening we returned home and Benji made us dinner. His lomo saltado was absolutely incredible, much better than what I ate in the restaurant the night before.
The rest of the night was spent packing. I don’t know how many times I had outbursts of excitement about the Inca Trail throughout the day, but 5-10 is a conservative estimate. I fully anticipated that experience to be one of the best of my whole life, so my speech and body-language communicated sheer joy all day long. I hoped I hadn’t packed too little or too much, but it was my first trip so I was bound to do something wrong. It was this evening that I finally heard from Monica about where we were to meet the group in the morning; they’d come pick us up! 6:10 was the estimated pick-up time, so we went to bed early.