I made sure to arrive early to the clinic today before 8 so that I could meet with the doctor in charge before she got busy. When I got to the clinic, I noticed that all the benches outside were gone and no one was waiting. What now? Another strike. It was a one day strike, so not as serious as what was going on before, but I was still becoming moderately annoyed by the prevalence of striking here. In case you haven’t noticed, I’ve seen a lot of it. I waited around a few minutes for the doctor, but one of the ladies from admission told me she wouldn’t be coming in today because there was a protest going on elsewhere. So I left.
The following bus ride was the most interesting of any I’ve experienced. Leaving a bus stop we were pulling out into the main lane when another bus didn’t stop so they actually hit us. Not hard, but enough to cause some scratches and discomfort among the passengers. That bus was incredibly aggressive. It refused to back up, so it scraped forward another foot or 2 on our bus until it was free. We then were driving side-by-side for a little too long, and the guy at the door of the other bus decided to start kicking our bus instead of doing what normal people do; slow down and move over. I don’t know if that driver and door guy were drunk or what, but that was ridiculous.
Initially, I thought I would go home to work on my project. I then realized that I could go to Belenpampa and see if any doctors were there for me to interview. This proved to be a great decision. When I got there the outside door was shut and everything was peaceful. I looked around for doctors, and I did manage to find Jesus. I caught him just as he was leaving for another function, but we scheduled an interview for Friday morning around 8. I’m looking forward to that, I think it’ll be great. I wandered through several laps of the clinic and was about ready to leave when I found Julia hanging out on the wheelchair in emergency. Apparently she didn’t even know about the strike today, so she was just sitting in the room without anything to do. We discussed some topics like Meghan and my current rotations, then I realized that I could totally do an interview with her. She is very fluent is Quechua so I guessed she would know a good deal about the differences between rural and urban care. Perfect for my project. I gave her the paper, and she began some external processing to formulate her answers. During this process I found Dr. Yermoli, the man I was looking for earlier because I really wanted an interview from him. We set up an interview at 11. After a little while Julia did the interview with me, which was great. It was cool to hear from a nurse’s perspective, because it provided unique insights into the challenges and strengths of Peruvian healthcare that I hadn’t thought of and hadn’t been mentioned in previous interviews. She had more of a personal feel in her responses. After the interview we talked for some time about other challenges for rural people in Peru, especially education. They have to walk an hour (one way) in order to arrive at the school, then often have insufficient nourishment throughout the day so it is hard for them to stay awake and focus in class. To add to the problem, there are not governmental education checks in these places. Therefore, if a teacher doesn’t care about the benefit of the students and only wants a paycheck, they can show up to work every day and do nothing without consequence.
During the interview and the conversation, I heard a megaphone outside. Eventually I wanted to check that out, so Julia and I went outside. This strike was a national one, involving all clinics from the coast, the mountains, and the jungle. In Belenpampa, there were people from many postas throughout the Northern Cuzco Network. They had formal lists of requests from the government and had every intention of making their will known. When I heard them talk about going to block a street, I got excited. I hadn’t seen this before. After some talking to clarify the goals, they exited to take a major street nearby. They walked slowly even for the already painfully slow Peruvian speed, which I found hilarious. There were a few people yelling and trying to get the crowd riled up, but the rest slowly meandered their way to the main road. Once there, the oval eventually expanded to take the whole intersection. The poor cars that were trying to pass in this moment had to use creativity to get out or get through. Everyone started yelling phrases like, “This is the response of health!!” and, “Health is in the streets because of the government!” I assure you the phrases sound better in Spanish. I can now say I helped block a street and chanted [quietly] with Peruvians during a healthcare strike. Oh the stories I’ll be able to tell back in the states J
I went back at 11 to find Yermoli, but he was nowhere to be found. I’ll get him eventually.
The rest of the day was my Spanish class, talking to people over skype, and my project. It was a good way to spend my day, but I’m now up at 1 AM and have to be up early to make it to the clinic.