Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Adventure to the Isle of Roatan

Houses on the way to the "brigada."

View on the way to the "Brigada"
More gorgeous views of the countryside.

This blog is incredibly behind the times...Lacking even the completion of our group over two weeks ago when 4 more LLU med'ers joined our medical and other adventures.  In spite of the content here which has been much more about the random, fun, adventures, there has been quite as many delightful, educational, and challenging medical/work related adventures. It has been fun to see different members of the group contribute different strengths...K has contributed her artistic talents to directing the mural painting project of "Jesus and the Children" at the school (pics to come)...D's Spanish skills have helped immensely for various important challenges/random adventures such as tracking down cheese for pupusas on our trip from Julio the best cheese seller in the town...M (the Argentinian nutritionist who has been adopted into our group) has been a welcome ally in relaying gluten allergies/vegan diet needs to the kitchen staff, and making sure B has enough to eat...B has taken it upon himself to be a (usually) welcome comic mention a few hidden and shining talents of the group.

Last week we did our first health expo at a church in Tegucigalpa, did a "brigada" setting up clinic in one of the more rural areas, started Spanish lessons, finished a painting project at the school started by other LLU students on their trip here over spring break, started painting the mural of "Jesus and the Children," had 2 game nights, and learned how to make pupusas.

Tomorrow we embark in the wee hours of the morning on a grand adventure to the beautiful isle of Roatan, home of the second largest barrier reef in the world, and according the the very well traveled Dr. L the most beautiful beaches in the world. On a side note...One thing is for sure, in Honduras they have taken the concept of "take-out" to whole new extremes. We went out for pupusas (my first time eating out since we got here!) after our "brigada" last week. We were paying at the end and B decided to get a coke. He was walking out with the glass bottle of coke and went back to ask if he had paid for/could take out the glass with the coke. Turns out the answer was "no," but, no problem, they just poured the coke into a clear plastic bag and sent him on his way with a straw. (Which of course precipitate many comments about the sort of thing you might find in a hospital that resembled the coke-in-a-bag setup). Tonight we were exploring our meal options from the cafeteria for the long bus followed by ferry ride to the isle. Inspecting, the contents discovered granola in a bag. I said "Hmm how are we going to eat these without bowls," K said "I think this is like trail mix to eat out of the bag." As M was explained to us the process behind reconstituting the powered soymilk into soymilk, we realized indeed, breakfast ("desayuno" one our our first words we learned really quickly) tomorrow is granola and milk in a bag.

Schoolhouse Housing our "Brigada" Clinic

Delicious Pupusas!

Monday, June 25, 2012

Caballos Out and About!

Horse tied up at the corner of our street. This is apparently a popular hitching post. Later in the week we saw a different horse and at another time a mule.

Horse grazing on the hike to the falls.

My favorite of the random horses we have seen wandering free in the neighborhood. Yesterday, somebody rode by on him.

Caballero--there are quite a few around town.

Half of a mule

Horses Downtown

Have decide to write in themes...starting of course w/ my favorite topic...the horse. Will probably continue to add pics to this post as well as we encounter more horses on our travels. We possibly might get to ride some....

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Sabado...mas tarde!


Weird pink spotted plats that are everywhere.

Brilliant macaws in Somebody's yard!

Don't go anywhere without the barefoot shore.
I almost forgot, one of the best parts of Saturday...We hiked to this waterfall that is named after the swallows that live behind the waterfalls (I forget the name though). It was very pretty, and a tour of the economic disparity in Honduras (huge mansions next to shacks), and nice to have some invigorating exercise since arriving.


Friday--June 15th

Today concludes the end of an incredibly full exciting week! Even in the down times I have been learning about Spanish/English regular and medical dictionary apps for my phone. ConjuVerb is excellent app for looking up verbs and conjugations, and I have been trying to study and re-learn all those verb conjugations and irregular verbs I once knew in high school. Thank you Mr. R and Mrs. F! I am very thankful for all the Spanish study in high school and wishing Spanish classes had made their way into my college coursework. Also, in the technology front, figuring how to call home and videochat people in the US for free (just in time for Father's Day!) was definitely a highlight.

Looking forward to Sabbath rest, as being at a Seventh Day Adventist hospital, sunset Friday to sunset Saturday is "Sabbath" and our day off for church and everything. As such, the hospital begins to slow down on Friday afternoon, so in the afternoon B and I set out to explore the our little town. We discovered it was larger than expected, there were lots of cool shops, other (rather unfriendly) tourists, a large number of stray dogs to add to the collection of horses tied along the side of the road. Thus the pics from the last post.

Later in the evening we were clustered around the internet zone couches wondering what to do w/ our evening when Dr. M and Mrs. M came and started asking about hymns we knew. I missed the first part of the conversation, so I was thinking they were leading some sort of Friday singing/worship group. Only far later in the conversation, I realized that we were the group, and we were going to sing hymns to the patients, at which point I got really excited. Discovering and downloading yet another app (hymns in Spanish), we were ready to sing. It was a moving experience. The patients were incredibly grateful for the singing and prayer for them that followed. It seems in general, patients here are really open to prayer.  Numerous times in clinic both Dr. L and Dr. M have prayed for patients, including some who have seemed to anticipate it. Dr. M also let us know that we were invited for lunch on Saturday at the L's house...something else to look forward to!

Saturday morning, we woke to people singing songs, (basically right outside our door in our little yard which was a little weird). I was feeling ambitious in friendliness and making new friends, so I was trying to formulate the proper way to ask, "Can I join you?" until I realized there were just two people and they were playing the same song over and over again...and it was probably some sort of special music practice.

Time to leave for church...We were greeted with hugs by two ladies outside the church, and walked in to realize a unique model for Sabbath school. Instead of the separate classrooms we use in the US, there were clusters of small groups in pews of the main church building, and the 8 or so leaders were standing up in front of a small group talking and involving people in discussion. After 20 minutes of trying to hear (in the midst of multiple lively discussions), sort out the actual Spanish words our group leader was saying, and then formulate some comprehension fairly unsuccessfully, Dr. L came to our rescue and asked if we wanted to go to church with the youth, which we decided to do and tried to inconspicuously (virtually impossible for 3 foreigners in a not-so-large room) sneak into the youth service. Comprehension of the youth service was much more successful thanks to the powerpoint. I learned a few new words like "luchar" which means "to fight," "to struggle," or "to wrestle" and contemplated the theological implications of the relationship between "espera" "wait" (which is a very useful word for telling patients to wait for the doctor after we have interviewed them), and "Esperanza" the name of a friend of mine meaning "hope." Then later I learned esperar is both "to wait" and "to hope."

There was a break in the service, and a very nice young lady approached and welcomed us, and we exchanged greetings. A few minutes later we were supposed to break into groups to do a group activity, and the same young lady ushered the reluctant three foreigners to join their group. We ended up talking, as details for the project were being discussed among other group members, and found out that the young lady was actually, M, the dietitian whom we had been told had just arrived from Argentina to volunteer in the hospital for a year, whom we were supposed to meet a couple days ago. Delighted to make a new friend, shortly thereafter Dr. L's daughter came to get us for an equally delightful lunch.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Friday Explorations


Cute Boxer Puppy!

Flowers decorating the walls

Outdoor mini-mart

Italian Restaurant

Rooftop view

Random Horses out and about

Woodcutter ants carrying away petals to decorate the ant hill.

Around the hospital.

Lots of dogs.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

One of the many beautiful pictures on the walls of the hospital and its caption (above)
More pictures around the hospital from today.

Sheep! (and some goats)

Wednesday--June 13

Hola Amigos!

Hoy es nuestro tercer dia en Honduras...Reminded again of what the first week of med school was like, my brain is full. Instead of the language of anatomy we are immersed in the everyday conventions of "!buenos dias!" (good day/morning) and "mucho gusto" to trying to grasp the gist of conversations in patient interviews.

We had Monday off and settled in after we arrived here around 1pm Honduras time. We explored a little bit and walked around, took naps after a mostly sleepless night on the plane, and took a look at the lay of the land.

After worship and breakfast Tuesday morning we were each assigned to a patient. One patient sent was sent from another hospital for us to figure out what was going on. Dr. L wanted one of us to figure it out and present her case on Thurs morning (and we would be busy all day Weds), not to mention her chart was in Spanish and I was guessing the presentation needed to be in Spanish...a little overwhelming for first day on job non-Spanish speaking, barely 2nd year meds. K bravely tackled it, and I was assigned another patient who was very nice, and I ended up talking to him because his doctor had to step out in the middle of the interview. After some awkward silence, he asked if I spoke Spanish, and I introduced myself and we chatted a little bit. I was exciting to have something of even a minimalist conversation in Spanish. He was very kind and patient (as everyone has been). Otherwise, Tuesday was very chill and uneventful other than realizing how little Spanish we all knew and needed to work on that, and I was really wishing I had brought my other Spanish grammar book and dictionary, which I had sacrificed in an attempt to not be too ambitious in the book packing department. I was surprised to be able to gather the gist of conversations in contextualized settings on Tuesday and more so even on Wednesday, but speaking is an entirely different matter.

Wednesday was a lot of fun...We went into the big city for clinic. We left early, (well I got up really early and showered at 5am and woke up K at 5:45am and told her we needed to go and she informed me that is was only 5:45 and not 6:45 thanks to a time change technology snafu.) Before we went to clinic Dr. L had an spot on the radio station, and fortuitously we had to buy something at the store to be able to park there and get close parking for the radio station. They had inexpensive English/Spanish dictionaries for B and I. Then we proceeded to the radio station, where everyone seemed very friendly, jovial, and happy to meet us. After the radio program there weren't any patients yet at the clinic so we went to the Honduran Costco though it is called Pricesmart (I think). And then we went to this cafe...and I ordered a latte. It was a significant moment because this was my first time ordering in Spanish as well as exchanging my first limperas for dollars. Plus it made me really happy to have coffee in Honduras.

Finally, back at the clinic somewhere along Dr. L said to the three of us "Can you interview the patient in the waiting room, while I interview this patient?"--like it was the most natural thing for us to do. Being good medical students that we are, we choked down any looming fears, smiled, and confidently said, "Of course." Once we had the patient's chart we gathered phrases from our medical Spanish books, and gathered ourselves and went to find our little patient and her mom. Though mom and daughter did not speak any English, it went surprisingly and in fact beautifully well. One of us would think of interview questions to ask while trying to come up with the Spanish from one of the books or otherwise, while somebody else was asking their question, and we all fielded and translated answers. Mom and daughter were very congenial and helpful. It was a post-op visit and thus fairly straightforward. We asked our quiet little patient about school and siblings and her mom chatted to us about being really passionate that her daughter going to school and learn English to open up more opportunities. After Dr. L took over for us there, we next interviewed a young college student. The three of us took the same strategy again, but her case was less after launching into a couple questions in halting Spanish, she volunteered, "I speak English," which was funny that none of us had thought to ask. Then we interviewed a family--two parents bringing their two year old for a post op checkup. The mom spoke a little English so we had a delightful exchange of Spanish and English lessons. Our last patient of the day was the most difficult, she spoke fairly quickly and had a bit of a complicated story, and I was a little worried she was not appreciative of being stuck in an interview with a bunch of non-Spanish speaking medical students, but even when thanking her for her patience, she was exceedingly gracious. Altogether, the interviews went really well and everyone was very kind, congenial, encouraging and seemed happy to meet the estudiantes de medicos from California.

For lodging we are staying in the hospital in patient rooms and eating food from the hospital cafe. The fruit--mango, pineapple, papaya-- is amazing, and we also get to eat lots of beans. Yesterday, they sent us to the city w/ bagged lunches and it was a big treat to eat peanut butter and honey sandwiches. They make real tortillas in house, which are also excellent.