Guate - Seattle
I have survived and returned from my week and a half long scouting trip in Guatemala. I was so busy on my trip that I didn't have time to even check my email while I was in Guate. On this trip I saw more of the country than I have on any other. I went and saw Guatemala City, Zacapa, Rio Dulce, Lake Izabel, Antigua, and a couple towns around Lake Atitlan.
Rio Dulce was amazing. Bryan Buchanan and the Jungle Medic Missions was incredible. What I've been doing with my life really pales in comparison to all the time, care, effort, and resources he puts into his work. Organizing teams to go out to rural villages and providing medical and dental care, providing 24 hour emergency care for those in and around his village, in addition to helping the local bomberos (firefighters) is a feat I don't think I have enough energy for. He and his wife Riechelle are amazing people and I feel truly blessed to have met them.
The river is incredibly scenic and I'm certainly glad I got to see it. While we didn't see any manatees on the cruise through the jungle, I was completely awestruck by the beauty and mystery surrounding the area. I certainly felt like I was living a National Geographic/Discovery Channel/PBS Nature/Nova program. It's an experience I will never forget.
Clinic in Guatemala City at David's church was great. They were very organized and extremely helpful, especially all those who translated for us! We also got to see the feeding program Samuel organizes which provides many children their only real meal of the day. Everyone was so welcoming and appreciative! Roberto, David, Samuel, and everyone at the Central Christiano Cultural Guatemala are extremely giving and caring people doing more good than I feel I could.
Clinic around Lake Atitlan was quite interesting. Not only was I the runner/pharmacist/organizer for my team, I interacted with the UCLA pediatric team that was there as well. So I was running around like a chicken with my head cut off for a couple days. But it was fun and we did a lot of good. On our first day there we got caught in a torrential downpour and took refuge in the church/make-shift clinic until the water died down so that we could pass. Unfortunately, along the steep, long, winding road down to the lake, we got caught in a mini-river that formed from the runoff. Our van got stuck and we had to cross the muddy waters on foot, leaving 86 year old Esperanza in the van.
After a couple hours (which passed by incredibly quickly), bystanders helped our guys get the van out of the rocks, mud, and water. It was an exhausting experience but one that I will never forget. Everyone was so helpful and kind it reinforces my love of Guatemala.
Clinic the next day was not nearly as exciting, but we had a good run and saw about 200 patients at the end of the trip. After our half day clinic we headed over to Santiago de Atitlan to visit the Hospitalito and drop off some supplies there, as well as seeing if we could send some medical teams there in the fall.
The journey back to Guate was rather peaceful and Don, Terry, and I had a great time chatting and laughing in the back of the van. Why we had the three team leaders in the backseat boggles the mind. We're nuts when we're together.
Antigua was lovely as usual...alas, it was raining, so it wasn't as nice as we hoped it would be, but we had a good time and I got to make my requisite stop at Cafe Sky for some coffee and conversation. If ever you're in Antigua, please help out Camino Seguro and stay at Hotel Lazlo Fuertes, which is a part of the hospitality service they have set up. The rooms run about $40 a night and are clean, safe, and quite nice.
Aside from Guate, life in Seattle has been a bit depressing, to say the least.
My friend, Cora Shimasaki succumbed to her battle with lung cancer on June 14, 2006, twelve days before her 38th birthday. So for the 2nd half of the month of June, I was at the girls' house everyday, occasionally spending the night.
Her funeral and wake was on June 25th and we had a grand celebration in her honor.
I started school on the 19th, and my classes have been pretty good so far. Physiology isn't bad, but having a test every 2 weeks is really irritating. Human Sexuality is quite interesting, so I think I've got a pretty good combo of classes going -- one I don't really care for but have to take, and another that's fun and interesting.
I've been working occasionally, but nowhere near what I used to. The HNA 5 year reunion planning is well underway and I need to send out the Evite on the 12th.
Planning for the Fall ENT surgical mission has begun and I've got to organize, recruit, and meet everyone. We've got about 4 meetings set up through the summer and I still need to find a dentist to work at the Fundacion Pediatrica Guatemalteca's clinic.
Alright, enough jabbering. Have a great day and enjoy the beautiful weather outside!