Wednesday, January 6, 2016

OCC Nursing - Antigua and Leaving San Lucas Toliman

The past few days were, as per usual, very busy. We met up with 3 local health providers: a natural medicine man at the Institute for Meso-american Permaculture, a woman who heals with prayer, and midwives who acted out a traditional Mayan birth for us.
I think our families thought we would be coming down here and working as nurses in a clinic or something similar. However, while we did do a diabetes clinic for a morning, it's been mostly community health nursing...meeting the specific needs for the people in each town. It was stressed to us that when we come down here with many suitcases full of donated goods that we avoid a "haves" and "have nots" atmosphere. While the medical supplies, shoes, and other things were very useful to these people, we also learned so much from them. They have a level of skill in their trades that we envied.  It's great to have made such great connections...even without knowing each others' language! It was sad to leave Posada Los Volcanos and our host "family".
We were even more sad when we were all feeling sick on the van ride to Antigua up into the mountains! Twisty curvy roads and cliffs right next to the road that dropped a few hundred feet. Alas, we made it here safe after using some of the techniques we are taught to help distract patients from their pain. We jet back off to New York tomorrow to continue our studies.  I know that this trip will change the way we deal with patients, their families, coworkers, and our personal relationships for the better.

Monday, January 4, 2016

A Day on the Lake- OCC Nursing

Today was our "day off". We took a boat ride to several towns on Lake Atitlan to do some shopping and sightseeing. The view from the middle of the lake is stunning! Mountains all around, with some forming shapes of elephants, a person, a child's face. Definitely a recommended activity for any traveller to this area.
We were all very impressed with the quality, quantity, and diversity of the goods and spent many quetzelas!  Things are handmade for the most part and are each unique in small ways. Bartering is an expected and needed skill--something I personally wish I'd practiced. When converted to American dollars, most things are very, very cheap compared to what you might pay for something similar in the US.
Later on we headed back to Tierra Santa to celebrate the inauguration of the stoves we helped to build a few days ago. We exchanged gifts with the women and masons, and played with the kids. It was good to see them after becoming so acquainted the days we were there.  It was a great immersive experience for us Americans and the community. We were able to see a stove in use last night when one of the mason's wife taught us how to make tortillas. It was 4 years old, but it was clear how much of an improvement they bring to these family's lives.
Tomorrow...back to work!

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Sunday - Last Day in SL Toliman

So today is our last day in San Lucas Toliman.  We went on a hike this morning and ended up at a beautiful lakeside park(ish) that provides local folks with lake access and teaches about perma-culture.  

This evening we went to Tierra Santa to celebrate with the ladies who received the stoves and the masons who led the construction efforts.  Gifts were exchanged and more importantly gratitude and Christ's love was shared.  

Tomorrow morning we will go to Keyshiya (sp?).  This is where the medical clinic was built.  We will celebrate with the community and have lunch with them then head for Antigua to begin our transition back home.  

Pics as promised

Saturday, January 2, 2016

San Lucas Toliman: OCC Nursing Students- Day 5

It's been a whirlwind 5 days in Guatemala for our group! I apologize for not posting sooner, but the information to take in and new experiences are overwhelming. All senses are being stimulated- new sights, smells, tastes, everything! The area is surrounded with mountains. It's absolutely stunning. 
We are being fed very well here at Posada Los Volcanoes by our hosts. As busy nursing students, we are not used to three filling, healthy meals a day! The calories are much needed for the many activities we've attempted (mostly successfully). We finished our groups alotted 4 stoves in the town of Tierra Santa with the assistance and guidance of skilled masons. We all think that was the best part of this trip so far. A great way to immerse ourselves in the Guatemalan/Mayan culture. 
Much to the amusement of our (sometimes impromptu) teachers, we have learned to carry a baby, make torillas, carry wood, and how to slow ourselves down per the Guatemalan culture.
Tomorrow is our excursion day- we will shop and make our way back to Tierra Santa to celebrate the inauguration of the stoves. 

Saturday Jan 2

Sorry I forgot to post yesterday.  Today I will not be able to post pics because the wifi access at the hotel is down.  I will post them tomorrow at breakfast.  

Yesterday was a great work day at both sites.  And today we finished off the stoves and finished off the building.  Yay!  

The building crew had a true Guatemalan experience when the truck we were riding in (yes, standing in the bed) had an issue with the axel.  We pulled over and lifted the truck for some repairs (a generous term) were completed so it could be driven back to town for more complete repairs.  The mission sent their van to pick us up.  

Last night we spent some time at the lake hearing from the head of the local fisheries association and tonight with a local leader in the pure water project in his home.  There is much more to both of their stories, but it is hard to share in this format.  

One thing we have definitely experienced is that Guatemalans are great story tellers.  We could learn much from their ability to share their story.