Saturday, December 30, 2006


Today I got up early as usual. Beans. Today I got to go to the Cantone with the medical team. This was a great day. A half dozen of us road out of town and into the jungle in the back of a pick up on a dirt road. The rest were in the back of a flat bed truck. A little way up the road a little old lady was sitting on the side of the road. We stopped and picked her up. On the way up into the mountains we saw a cart pulled by two oxen on the side of the road. We have no idea who was tending them. When we got to the village we helped the little old lady climb down from the truck and a little girl ran up to her and gave her a big hug and they walked on down the road together. Later in the day we saw the grandma at the clinic.

The village had prepared for us. There was something that looked like a very tall park shelter. It was open with no walls and a tin roof. Under the roof where some benches and they had set up three examining rooms by hanging black plastic tarps on sticks. This is where the doctors saw the patients. There where already quite a few patients waiting when we arrived. There was not room on all the benches for everyone. For the most part through out the day the women children and older folks went through the line. The older boys and men stood around the periphery until late in the afternoon after all the women and children had a chance to go through.

For the first part of the morning I mostly helped entertain the young kids while they waited to see the doctor. We had a lot of bubble blowing. They loved that. We also played pica pica gonzo (duck duck goose).

Several of us also talked to some of the teenage boys. One of them indicated that he was getting ready to start working in the fields. He gets paid $4 a day for his work.

The Hefe of the village showed up some time after lunch. He like the other men waited off to the side. I attempted to strike up a conversation with him and the gentleman (one of his lieutenants) standing with him. They seemed more interested in speaking with each other than with me. It was kind of awkward so I gave up trying to talk to them.

I tried work in the pharmacy again for a little while counting pills and helping fill orders. Then for a while I actually tried to hand out the prescriptions. This is very hard to do when you don’t speak Spanish. I was in the middle explaining to one of the moms what I’m sure was the means of overdosing her kids when someone stepped in who know Spanish.

Later in the afternoon we played soccer. The “Clinic” that they set up for us was on a ridge with a fairly deep valley on either side. The ridge behind had a school about half way up it. At the bottom of the valley between these two ridges was a soccer field/horse pasture. About four or five of us Norte Americanos played and a bunch of El Salvadorans. Mostly teenagers and kids. One of the high school girls in our group played. The El Salvadorans thought that was pretty novel. Occasionally a pig would wander through the field. I ended up playing goalie and did pretty well I thought once I got the hang of it. I did give up a couple cheep goals. There was one El Salvadoran who was a real moron. He mocked our attempts at Spanish and played dirty. He clearly didn’t care for us. Everybody else was pretty cool and it looked like they were telling the moron to cool it.

At the end of the day after the 3 doctors saw 300 patients we all piled on to a flat bed truck and headed back to town through the mountain jungle in the dark. On the way back we stopped at a small cluster of houses and the doctors hopped out and examined a small child by flash light. The child had been crippled from birth and never seen a doctor. I’m not sure what the doctors did for the kid but it sounds like they thought that maybe he had had a slight case of Polio.

Also, on the way back we were joined by several El Salvadorans. One guy was taking a car battery in to town to get it charged. They use car batteries in lieu of having power lines running to their house. A man and his daughter joined us and a man carrying a sack of something that is like a banana to sell in town. One of the interpreters sat next to me and the guy with the bag. So, I tried to have a conversation with him. He wasn’t very interested talking. So, I talked to the interpreter. She is from El Salvador but went to college in Washington. She planned to live in El Salvador. I asked about her family. She said her mom worked for a NGO (Non Governmental Agency) and was in Indonesia helping with the Tsunami. Then I asked about her Dad and she said he was killed in the war. This was followed by an awkward silence. After a few long moments I asked her to tell us a little more about her father. She said he was active with the rebels on the urban front and was killed when she was like 18 months old so she does not remember him at all. During the week we meet several people who were impacted by the war in various ways including families who had members fighting on both sides. 70,000 people died. It is difficult to find people who were not impacted in some way by the war. I probably mentioned this before but I got the sense that for many just below the surface a lot of anger still resides.

Earplugs, Sleep.

No comments: