Wednesday, May 14, 2014

The end of our trip

We finally saw the last patients and it was time to pack everything up. The Helps International team that stays here in Guatemala is responsible for packing up the big equipment. Beds, OR tables, anesthesia machines, shelving all has to be broken down, packed and stored for the next mission.  All of our supplies are packed into plastic bins and inventoried so we know what we need for next time.  

Our recovery room beds had cranks on them. Nothing electric. I had to remember how to calculate a drip rate. No IV pumps. This was old school nursing!

After we were done packing we got to travel to Lake Atitlan and visited a couple of villages surrounding the lake.  There are 3 (active) volcanoes that surround this area and when it's not cloudy you can actually see the steam from the crater.   It's somewhat touristy so there are tons of street vendors everywhere.  These people are pushy!  Little kids 5,6,7 years old are selling things like pros. And they are very persistent!  They don't leave you alone and follow you everywhere. We had lunch in one of the villages. The only way to get there is by water Taxi. Tons of fun!

The local women are making and selling their things.  Lots of cute stuff!

We headed to a couple of little villages along the lake to see what they had there. If possible, they were even more pushy. The women would be standing on the docks when we got there trying to sell to us. 

(We didn't eat here. But I was tempted)

These boys followed Yvonne and I all around the little village. They wanted a pack of playing cards that she had in her backpack. They offered to trade some handmade bracelets for them but she kept telling them no. In the end they finally wore her down.

(Boys 1, Yvonne 0)

Clinic day

One of our main jobs here in Guatemala is to go out to surrounding villages and offer a medical and dental clinic for the people.  We try to identify anybody that would be a good candidate for the type of surgeries we offer as well as provide them with medicine for their problems and dental care. 

The village that I got to go to was called Santa Lucia Utatlan. It was about a 45 minute drive from our clinic but a world away from anything I know. 

To get there we were on a little bus that took us up into the mountains. Most of the roads are pretty narrow and these guys are crazy drivers. You just have to trust that they know what they are doing!  The streets are all cobblestone everywhere through the town and it was raining that day.  It rains a lot down here. 

The sidewalks (if there are any) are very narrow and the buildings butt up to the road. These roads were never designed for cars so sometimes it's a tight fit. 

(Traffic jam)

We set up clinic in a community hall and in the dental clinic and got to work. Patients were lined up to see us. Everybody got an initial screening and then they were directed to a doctor or nurse practitioner for screening. 

We had a pharmacy with all kinds of medications, many donated. The docs would see the patients and give them meds or refer them for surgery if they qualified. Thank God for translators!  Lots of aches and pains but some were serious conditions.

(The pharmacy. Everything laid out on a table)

(Dr Miller and our translator Jose)

What I thought was funny was that everyone had cell phones, even the kids.  There are no landlines in these smaller villages so when cell phones started to become widely available they became popular.  There are cell towers everywhere but there is not always reliable electricity to run them. 

(Just like the teenagers I know!)

We saw tons of people. They all have various ailments.  Lots of aches and pains, high blood pressure, some depression, female problems, etc. Everyone leaves with a bag of vitamins and medication for whatever their problem is.  Lots of Ibuprofen for arthritis.  More serious conditions are referred to our surgery clinic and we offer transportation to the clinic because it's a long way to walk.  Everybody is very grateful to us for being there.  We get hugs and blessings from everybody we see. It's very overwhelming to see people excited over getting to see a doctor in a leaky building and getting a baggie of vitamins, ibuprofen or cough syrup.

We got a chance to walk around the town for a bit during our lunch break. It was crazy!  The little 3-wheel taxi's are called tuk-tusk and they drive like maniacs!  People set up stalls on the streets and sell all kinds of things like fruit, flowers, cd's, clothes...whatever you need. Music is blaring everywhere and people are carrying there stuff in the middle of the road while cars and motorcycles drive wherever.

The women carry everything on their backs or heads. No wonder everybody hurts!

We were warned from the very beginning about eating from street vendors but Dr Millers kids and I ventured out to find tortillas. We found this lady making some out of her little shop and bought a bunch to take with us. So good!

(We did not eat anything from this store. The flies crawling on the chicken pieces hanging from hooks kinda put us off)

(The view from the second story of the municipal building where our dental clinic was. In the fountain area was a DJ with a computer, sound board and huge speakers blaring music)

(A business where you can rent a room if you need hospitalization or funeral services. Whichever one you want. Completely free!)

(These "Internet cafes" are everywhere. A place with a few computers and internet service and you pay to use them. I can't flush toilet paper and most houses don't even have running water but I can get on the internet. When the power is on, of course)

(I just thought this one was cute. Go Batman!)