This past weekend we went to Roatan Island.It was certainly one of the most gorgeous places I have been! It is an extremely expensive (ok expensive relative to the rest of Honduras) tourist island, however it was so beautiful that it was worth it. Interestingly enough, the tourist areas were nearly empty. Apparently during the week all the big cruise ships come but on the weekends there is virtually no one. I was quite glad that it was so empty, more room for us to enjoy.
Without a doubt the best parts of my trip were the two times that I got to go diving. I just got my scuba license in the fall and I was able to put it to great use diving in some of the most beautiful places ever. I am sure that I didn’t even get to see the coolest parts of the island, but it was still so incredible! I saw pipe fish, clown fish, zebra fish, sting rays, lobsters, huge schools of every kind of fish possible, eels, and to cap it all off I saw a sea turtle! They happen to be my favorite animal ever and it was amazing to see on right there so close. I really wanted to race after it and touch it, but I decided that might be a bad idea. It is so magical swimming around and being so close to all these amazing types of animals. It really feels like a city just like they portray it in the movies.I realized that I have a long way to go in becoming a professional diver, but I had a ton of fun. Definitely inspires me to go diving more! And it was really nice to be able to see more than 3 feet in front of me! Haha I am sure that the conditions here were not even the best they can be, but compared to California diving it was incredible! I decided I may have to forgo one of the later weekend trips to dive twice, but for me it was well worth it.
The rest of the weekend was just fun hanging out with the others from the team. 16 of us all made it over to the island so it was pretty sweet just seeing everyone and comparing experiences. It seems like everyone has some things better and some things worse. I realized though that I am quite happy here in Olanchito. I really enjoy our host family and I think that I like the aspect of our hospital that we have to forge our own way. It can be really frustrating at times, but I feel like I am accomplishing more personally. I suppose we could be more helpful for the hospital if we were not faced with so much resistance, but as far as personal growth it is so much better.
Unfortunately one bad incident happened. One of our teammates had a lot of his stuff stolen. It was really sad because he had so much with him. Theft is certainly a prevalent threat here. I have tried to be so careful and praise God I have not had anything taken yet, but even a momentary lapse of attention can result in a lot of problems. Such a bummer!
I think being away for the weekend and speaking so much English almost made it harder to come back and be here. Monday Amber and I were both exhausted which I believe is a big reason why it was so much harder to be back. I enjoy the weekend trips, but I am sure it would almost be easier to just remain here and not become unaccustomed to this lifestyle.Or maybe I just need to not be such a weirdo and enjoy my weekends away and come back and enjoy my time here as well.I feel like my emotions are sometimes out of control here. I suppose when you are thrust into something as strange and challenging as this that is bound to happen, but still I wish I had more control over these sudden swings of emotion.
Speaking of emotion, this week is the one year “anniversary” of the death of our host mom’s son. It is terribly sad and she is quite emotional. It’s challenging to know what to do in a situation like this, I suppose just give a big hug and let her know that it’s ok to cry, but still a tough time for her I am sure. And not only that, her grandson is currently in the hospital with Dengue Fever. It’s a bit of a rough time, but she is a strong woman and I certainly admire her.It’s great because she often sits at the table with us at meal times and chats with us. She has been a wonderful host mom.
Thanks for your prayers. If you can be praying now that my patience continues/increases as I feel like I have been a little snappier lately, and also that we continue to make headway here in the hospital and be as helpful as possible.I would also love to hear a quick message of how you are doing!
So the running joke here is the 4 stages of culture shock. We are frequently evaluating ourselves to see which stage we fall into. Even the slightest signs of unhappiness are sure indications of stage 2 (the stage of depression, homesickness, and overall hating your life). While I am not sure I would consider myself in stage 2, I have certainly been experiencing the struggles of life here, and do at times long to be back in the states. I think the worst is when I am so frustrated with the technicians and lack of resources here at the hospital. For example, the other day we wanted to work on cleaning some aspirators, but it was so hard to find a spot to clean them (let alone rags and alcohol) that I nearly wanted to give up. Not to mention that my frustration had already risen after spending considerable time on an intercom system that would not work. It is just so tiring always trying to fight with crappy tools, the inability to access any of the materials for ourselves, and technicians who are less than helpful.Needless to say I am sure I was probably not the best partner to work with yesterday. I suppose I am just used to being able to access things much more quickly.
HOWEVER, today was infinitely much better. We have befriended Dilia in Labor y Parto, and she was incredibly helpful today. We got our own spot in one of their rooms, they gave us access to all of the resources, and it was just wonderful to have a little bit of space and assistance. We were able to repair several machines, including a few aspirators, a few infusion pumps, and a pulse oximeter. And by repair I mean we cleaned them up a bit and figured out how to use them. It is quite amazing how often they throw out a machine simply because they don’t understand how to use it. They do not receive the manuals they need in Spanish and many of the nurses I am sure do not have the highest levels of education.
The most frightening thing that occurred today, though, was that as soon as we fixed one of the infusion pumps we asked if we could have an iv and some fluid so we could test it. So the nurse promptly took us over to an IV and told us to connect it. The only problem is that the IV was CONNECTED TO A PATIENT. I was like, what the crap I have no idea what I am doing. I really had never even attempted to use the thing and I had NO idea how it worked. Thank God it was a fairly straightforward machine and we were able to get it figured out fairly easily. And it was just saline solution so not quite so dangerous. Still, I think I probably should have been a little more firm in asking for a separate bag to test on so that I was not affecting the patient. These were women in labor about to give birth and we were in there screwing around with an infusion pump. I felt terrible. I also almost fainted. Haha. I am normally quite fine with needles and medicine and what not, but for some reason this got to me today. Perhaps it was the moaning women who were clearly in lots of pain, or I don’t know what the issue was, but it was a very new experience for me. I really wanted to watch one of the birthings, but that did not happen today. Maybe another day. It is so different because the family/husband does not come in, there are just two big rooms with a few beds each where the women lie as they are dialating, and then there is a room where they give birth, and then they are whisked out. Women here typically have at least 4 to 5 children, and sometimes as many as 11 -13. Our friend Jorge said that it is because they don’t have electricity so as soon as it gets dark they just have to go to bed…;) I think it is still a joyous time, but certainly not as big a deal as it is in the United States.
Anyway, we were also attempting to fix a broken fetal monitor. That was the most frustrating because they are pretty clearly in need of these monitors, however we spent the entire day attempting to repair them and were extremely unsuccessful. These machines were incredibly old, and we are not very knowledgeable about how they work, so alas we were not able to accomplish anything. However, once again they had us test the probes on the patients as they lay there. So I got to test the heart beat of a very pregnant woman, sadly we could not get it to work :( I feel so strange because I am clearly not a doctor and there is much that I don’t know about dosing and all this medical stuff, but I am learning quickly. For instance, there is 20 drops per one mL of fluid. And a drop in Spanish is a gota. We had no idea what that was today. Haha oh the adventures we have!
So all this to say that we are encouraged by our progress in the hospital (today at least). Oh and our friend Jorge said that tomorrow he would get us a gallon of alcohol and some towels. I am quite pleased that we asked him about it and I think it will be really useful. Oh and lately we have started sitting with him at lunch. He might move to the states soon and so every day he wants to practice his English. We talk in Spanish while he speaks in English. It’s a great way to practice for all of us. I would love to continue that tradition because it gives us more access to the hospital as well.
There are still many areas of the hospital that we have yet to explore, so we are eager to get into all those different areas, but for now we are trying to finish up in Labor y Parto since we appear to have a pretty good thing going there.
So I was not really sure what to expect in working at this hospital, but whatever my expectations were they were probably wrong. I know that they mentioned many times that we are going to have to build relationships, and that the locals are going to be skeptical at first, but it is even more true than I imagined. Also I have been suffering a very mild case of traveler´s illness and, especially in the mornings when I feel the most ill, the thought of a whole day of heat and attempting to figure out what we are doing and how we can be helpful does not really seem all that appealing. But I am still eager to push through. And Amber has been great at maintaining a positive attitude and she is very driven.
Right now we are eager to get into the hospital and start meeting more of the staff and start an inventory of all the equipement they have. Our Jefe (boss) doesn´t seem to trust us too much yet to be able to actually repair any equipment, so I know we will have to forge our own way a bit more. Today we couldn´t work at all because they were fumigating the hospital. Yesterday too we helped repair a couple sphygmomanometers and spent the rest of the day just sitting around. It is disparaging now to think that that might be each day, however reading some blogs from past participants indicates that they each felt similarly in their first few days, but after some time of meeting people and making friends they were able to have some sort of impact. I am seriously praying the same.
Anyway your prayers are appreciated. Missing you all and the States right now, but hoping for much more here too!
Hey so I made it to Olanchito. So far so good. Things are really hot, and my stomach is revolting against me a bit, but nothing too serious. I am living in luxury here with Maritza Quezada. We had our first day at the hospital today. We were shown around the hospital, managed to repair one sphygmomanometer, and spent the rest of the day sitting around and attempting to talk to all the other staff. It is extremely difficult to understand the Spanish here so far, they have a very different accent than costa rica, but we are managing. I feel kind of stupid at time, but hopefully we pick it up quickly. Fortunately there are several people who are willing to be patient and sit and talk to us. I think Amber and I are going to have to be pretty proactive in getting work to do as they don't seem extremely eager to give us work, but I think that we will just have to build some more relationships and hopefully get to do some good work. I think it will be a challenging month for sure, but I am praying for lots of strength and well being. Please keep praying that my stomach holds up, that my patience holds up, and that we are able to be productive here in the hospital.
I am in my last week here in Costa Rica. Today our professor was giving us all our final instructions for our last day before we leave and it made me really sad. It will be very different next month without so many people around me and the work will be super challenging. I am so excited to start there, though, and actually start applying all that I have learned this month. I am expecting a lot more challenges than this month, but I think it will also be a lot more rewarding. One thing I am excited for is that my Spanish will really be put to the test because I won’t have so many people around me speaking in English. My goals for next month are:
1.Become a regular somewhere
2.Focus on community involvement in the hospital
3.Make a close Nicaraguan friend
4.Not spend all my time by myself but get out and be social
5.Make friends with as much of the staff in the hospital as possible.
6.Perhaps start teaching English classes twice a week
I think these are ambitious goals, but I know that I need to start with high expectations and then perhaps I will at least do some of them.
Quick recap on things that happened this week. We had salsa classes again on Monday, it was once again quite fun. Tuesday night we went roller skating at the rink. It turns out it is an extremely popular Costa Rican thing to do and there were TONS of people there. Unfortunately I am TERRRIBLE at skating, so I would do a round or two and then make my way back to the wall. It’s just such a stressful activity, I don’t understand how people enjoy it ;) I did have a great time watching all the people, and it was interesting because the Tikos would grab hands with the people in my group and help them along if they were having a hard time. Then they would also play these different games, like during one game every time they blew the whistle the skaters had to do whatever it was that they had just called out, for example switch directions, skate down low, etc. However it was all said in very difficult to understand Spanish, so most of us had no idea what was going on for a while. So entertaining. Also on Tuesday the dog of our family, Pupie (pronounced poopy), died. It was quite a sad affair.
Yesterday my roommates and I cooked dinner for the family. We made a good Dutch meal of meatballs, potatoes, and green beans. I was a little concerned because using a new kitchen can be pretty difficult, especially when the cooking tools are so different, but it actually turned out really delicious and everyone enjoyed it. And it was fun to be able to serve Kattia a bit and have dinner all together (normally the family does not eat with us). Afterwards we went out to Castro’s, a local dance club, and danced our hearts out. I had so much fun dancing salsa, meringue, and the usual American sway. I am a huge fan of dancing! However I am not a huge fan of staying out so late and getting so little sleep. It definitely messes with my thoughts and my stomach. It never ceases to amaze me how much we need sleep! We found out today that Kattia would have liked to come to Castro’s with us. I am so disappointed we did not know that earlier because it would have been so fun to have her with us. ¡Que Lastima!
I can tell the team is all getting a little restless to begin this next month, and I think we are all running off a bit of a sleep deficit. I am quite eager to hear everyone else’s stories about the next month. As for me I am a bit nervous (even more so when I am tired) but excited to see what the month holds. I think there are going to be ample opportunities to learn, serve, and practice tons of Spanish. Turns out only one person in the hospital really speaks English, which I am eager to experience because it will be a great learning experience. I have just a few more hours here in Costa Rica, so crazy because it literally feels like I just got here. Looking back on the month I can’t really remember all that happened or how it flew by so fast! And I am sure the next month will go just as quickly.
I am so blessed by my host family and roommates. I think I have said this before, but they have really been super fun to live with. Kattia clearly really cares for all the students she hosts and invests time in talking to us. And she is so helpful and patient with teaching us Spanish. I have certainly enjoyed my time here. Today as our parting present she gave us each a packet of Costa Rican beansJ my roommate Margaret’s favorite food. Haha. We were joking today about how I am going to come back here to Costa Rica for my honeymoon and stay here in her house. It was so sweet because she said, “Yes you have a free place to stay and a family here in Costa Rica.” She certainly has embraced us into her family, and someday I may have to take her up on that offer for my honeymoon ;)
Well the next time I write I will be in Honduras. I think conditions there will be somewhat different, so I have no real idea what internet time will be like, but hopefully I can continue to maintain my blog. Please pray for health, as I think the risk of illness is considerably higher (ie almost all the participants get sick at some point during the second month), and also pray for endurance, patience, and just an openness to change. Sometimes the first few days of change can be tough, so just prayer that I would have incredible strength during the first week, well and throughout the whole thing.
The last few impressions of Costa Ricans too: They often water down the soap so that it lasts longer. The problem is that it doesn’t really do anything if it is so watered down. But I suppose it costs a heap less if you don’t have to continue purchasing new soap. Even here at the airport (where I am typing this last little piece as I wait for my flight(s) to Honduras) have watered down soap. Also I am enjoying my last few days of cool weather. I have heard that Olanchito is going to be ridiculously hot so we will see how that goes. Ihave certainly been enjoying this last little bit of cooler weather though.
In my Spanish class, as I have mentioned a few times, we often talk about controversial things and within that we often hear about Costa Rican culture. These are a few things that I have noticed in our discussions, as well as just being out and about in the city.
1.They don’t like street signs!
This is a VERY interesting and challenging phenomenon of Tiko culture. There are no street names, everyone references directions to certain well known landmarks, and the people tend to not really be too concerned with exact locations. Por allá (aka that general direction) is a very common phrase here. The directions are often “We live 50m east of the mango tree” –ok yeah.. which mango tree? And yet somehow they still always manage to find their way. Its incredible. Gladys mentioned it stemmed from a sense of small community that they had back in the 40s, and though the city has grown and technology has advanced tradition has remained so they still feel that same sense of small community, regardless of how inconvenient it is for anyone else. And its incredible because those types of instructions still hold true when you are traveling to a city 4 hours away. You may have no idea what the city is like, but they will still give you “Tiko directions” referencing the mango tree. Also, if you go to the bank to set up an account and you need an address the address would be something like
“The blue house on the right side of the road, 60 meters west of the Farmacia”
And that is the legitimate address that you put in your bank account. Needless to say, if you paint your house it causes serious issues.
2.They don’t have door bells
This is extremely difficult when we go to visit other friends on the team because we don’t have phones to tell them we are at the house, and all the houses have huge iron gates in front so we can’t knock on the door. It is a little challenging to get into these places.
3.They LOVE their horns
I swear the Tikos are compulsive horn honkers. The taxis of course honk at you when you are walking to see if you want a ride, but we white women certainly get honks from all kinds of strange men if we are walking down the side of the road. But not only that, the bus drivers are super impatient and they are always honking at the other cars and busses, etc. It’s crazy!
I am sure there are lots more that I am forgetting right now, but as I remember them I will post them up. I can’t believe I have less than one week left here in Costa Rica before I head out to Honduras. So crazy! If you can just pray for understanding of Spanish, patience, and
So one of the difficult things about traveling around this country is we really have to rely on what others say will be cool. It is challenging, though, because we can very easily end up in places that are less than what we were expecting. Today, for example, a group of us went to Volcan Irazu. We were eagerly expecting some nice hiking trails, lots of cool nature, and a time to be outdoors for a few hours. What we discovered was a bus ride up to the edge of the crater, three, sort of impressive craters that were surrounded by wooden fences and guards ensuring that we did not pass, and a very “American tourist” catered event. All in all it could have been a complete bummer had the group not been made up of very optimistic people. Sure we were all disappointed, but we were able to still have some fun and just take some pictures and make it much more exciting than I would have imagined. I am often quite excited to see how up for adventure the people on this trip are (which makes sense given the type of trip that it is), but it truly is an extraordinary group of people. Sitting at the very top looking down over the mountains was super sweet. The clouds were absolutely incredible and were just moving in an out and looked like waves on the sides of the craters. Apparently on a clear day you can see the Pacific and Caribbean oceans (today was most certainly not a clear day) however the clouds were almost equally as cool. And to sit on the top and appreciate it with others who also seriously just enjoyed looking at the clouds was great. So although the volcano initially appeared like it was going to be really lame, it turned out to be a pretty sweet time of just relaxing and hanging out.
Then we went into Cartago and we were going to look at the National Church and some old ruins. However there was a funeral, wedding, and red cross training, confessions, and prayers all happening at the church (yes all in the same room, though the wedding occurred after the funeral was done). It was one of the most bizarre experiences because there was a wedding occurring in the middle of a large group of random people just hanging out, taking pictures, doing training, etc. I don’t really understand how that church works, but it was interesting. It felt pretty strange being in there crashing the wedding party, though, so we left. And then we also found out that the old ruins we thought were ancient Mayan ruins or something to that effect were inreality just the remains from an earthquake of 1926, and we also could not find them, and it started raining… so we returned home. However, once again, I really felt like the overall sentiment was not bitterness or anger, simply a little disappointment and quick transition of direction. Anyway, despite its few disappointments it was still a pleasant day, and such a clear reminder of how much your disposition toward an event can really affect the outcome.
and don't worry, pictures will come one of these days..
Ok, I have been furiously typing lately, so be prepared for a barrage of new posts. hope you enjoy them.
On Friday we went to the San Jose Children’s Hospital. It was once again such a highlight of my week. We went as a full group this time so it was a little different. We did not do any work on equipment but got to see a full tour of the hospital. This hospital was a little larger than some of the other hospitals we have been going to. Señor Martin Valverde gave us a tour to see some of the larger equipment that the hospital had and answered a lot of questions, and he was a fantastic tour guide.
This hospital is the only children’s hospital in Costa Rica. Only children under the age of 13 are allowed to use the hospital. They are one of the more intermediate size hospitals, with 300 beds (although that day they were only about 70% full) and because they are a little larger they are able to receive more money from the government. Unfortunately the costs are still high and there is always a huge need for more money and resources. The technicians only receive $1 million per year to repair all the equipment in the hospital. In Señor Valverde’s opinion, the newer equipment is far superior to old equipment for repairing because the parts are more readily available and designs are using less “kits” (aka some selection of parts that must be replaced on a regular basis). This hospital had a great room to store all the ventilators and incubators that were not in use. The hospital was actually designed and built by North American contractors so it is much more modern. They have a large industrial section in which they have large tanks of liquid oxygen, air compressors, and vacuum that is then pumped throughout the whole hospital. While this is quite typical in developed countries, it was impressive to see here. They also had some extremely new equipment such as a beautiful x-ray machine (apparently one of the only of its kind here in Costa Rica), a TAC machine, and an extremely nice head x-ray machine. These were all extremely impressive to see here, and it was quite apparent to me that this technician, and I am sure many of the people working in the hospital, was amazingly proud of the equipment.
They also had an impressive collection of calibration/testing equipment. This is the first I have seen of its kind here in Costa Rica. Essentially they had lots of tools for testing to ensure that the equipment they repair is functioning properly. One big problem they have with this equipment, however, is that it must be returned to the vendor for calibration every year. This requires that the equipment be sent back to the United States, and not only is this an extremely expensive process, it also means that the equipment will likely be gone for up to 3 months.That means the hospital only has the equipment for 9 months of every year. Needless to say, much of the equipment has not been calibrated within the suggested time period.
I was also quite impressed to see a woman working as a technician in this department. Unfortunately I did not get a chance to speak with her, but when we asked the head technician he said that many more women are becoming involved in the technical industry.
I also asked Sr. Valverde about whether more of their equipment is donated or purchased. I think at this particular hospital most of their equipment is purchased new, however they do still receive some donations from hospitals in other countries. One issue he mentioned is that the benefits of some of these machines are not enough to outweigh the payments for maintenance, imports, taxes, insurance, etc. I have heard a lot about paying for maintenance and all the small replacement parts required in much of this equipment, but some of those other costs are not things that I have thought about. He compared it to someone giving you a Hummer, and all the hidden costs that arise with having such a nice vehicle. Initially it appears to be a great blessing, however in reality it becomes much more of a burden.
We got back from the hospital around lunchtime and then we went to watch Toy Story 3. However, the movie was only showing in the dubbed version, so I watched it in Spanish. It was AMAZING! I think I enjoyed it so much more because it was in Spanish than I would have if it was in English. I understood all of the plotline, and most of the lines. Of course there were a few that I didn’t quite catch, but overall it was spectacular. I think the best part, though, was the scene in which Buzz goes crazy and switches over to a Spanish accent. I was so proud of myself that I was able to catch the difference and it was hilarious. I just absolutely LOVE being able to sit and have conversations and understand. Yes of course it is still a struggle to speak sometimes, but it is so freeing to be able to mostly understand this other language. I just love it!
Oh we also had dinner at our Spanish professor’s (Gladys) house. She has a gorgeous house and cooked us a delicious meal. It was a lot of fun because one of the other teachers, Harry, is an excellent salsa dancer and I had a great time dancing with him and a few of the other guys on the team. I also got to have some sweet conversations with a few of the team members about what our passions are. I was reminded again of past dreams of working with prostitutes and assisting them in building skills. It is not something I have thought about for a while, but it is cool to think about again and it would be sweet to see if/how I could combine this love for technical work with assisting women out of prostitution. I think there would be a ton of really difficult stereotypes to break, but if that is a door that God opens for me I would love to see where that leads. In all, this trip is still showing me that this type of ministry is still where my heart lies and I am so blessed to be here right now.
Este fin de semana nos fuimos a Manuel Antonio. Fue muy bonito y más divertido que Monte Verde. Yo vi muchos animales como osos perezosos, iguanas, monos, melpechas, y más. Fue mi primer (goal) ver un oso perezoso y cuando vamos salir el parque, vimos lo en un árbol cerca del (path). Mi vida es completa; o lo mínimo eso viaje fue completo.
Ok back to English. I went to Manuel Antonio and had an incredible time! It was extremely relaxing and exciting all at the same time. I went into the national park both days and saw so much wildlife. The first day was more relaxing and hanging out on the gorgeous beach and swimming in the incredibly warm water. Then we got to explore the peninsula for a while and saw a few wombat looking rodent things, some monkeys, and lots of lizards! I think this trip certainly made up for the fact that I didn’t go on the night walk last weekend. The biggest downside of this weekend was that everything was so stinking expensive! As soon as you get into the touristy areas they jack up the prices so much. Anyway, no regrets… The second day we went back into the park and I hiked to a waterfall. I walked the trail barefoot and it was so nice to feel the mud between my toes. I had a few blisters from a few days ago on my feet still, so hopefully I don’t get any scary funguses on my feet any time soon and loose my feet. I will keep you updated on that. So far things appear to be ok still though.There were so many times this weekend that I just felt so amazingly blessed to be where I was. I am also proud to say that I got my Costa Rican (ok Costa Rican burn) this weekend. It is making it a little difficult to wear my backpack right now, however I can’t return back to the states as white as I started out, so this was a good step in my efforts to become more tan ;) It is interesting because on these trips we spend almost as much time on the bus to and from our destinations as we do time at the destination. The bus ride for this trip was about 4 to 4.5 hours. I really enjoy the bus rides, however, because the countryside is gorgeous and I get to know the others on the trip much better. We definitely have some interesting conversations.
Speaking of interesting conversations, I am definitely enjoying my Spanish class. Every day we talk about some controversial topic (in Spanish) and so far we have covered abortion, gay marriage, right to own weapons, and illegal immigration. We also talk about less serious items, for example the perfect date, strange dreams you have had, fears, habits, etc. We have really covered quite a range of topics. Sometimes it is so frustrating because I cannot convey my point, but it is quite amazing to be able to sit and listen and understand. Spanish is a perpetual struggle for me because I love learning it so much, however it is really quite hard and I am certainly feeling the struggle of being in a class that is over my head. I am really interested to see how next month goes when I have much fewer English speakers around me and when I need to describe to the technicians how to repair the equipment. In our labs in the afternoons our Spanish professor is coming around and listening to us as we work on the equipment and we have to speak in Spanish as much as possible. It is going to be tough for sure, but I am really looking forward to it. I think these weekends away are also screwing me up a bit because I usually don’t speak Spanish at all because when we go to the touristic locations all the workers speak English and don’t really try to speak Spanish to you. And also I am around the whole troupe of English speakers. So I always return from my weekends away and have to re-transition into thinking in Spanish. I think I may stick around San Jose this weekend to save on some cash and save my Spanish thinking mentality.
So for my parents I was going to write a bit about the farming in Costa Rica. As we were riding through the mountains I saw a lot of farms and it was interesting to see the milking barns. They were mostly tiny, maybe 8 cows or so. Cheese is a huge commodity here. Unfortunately it isn’t really my favorite cheese. Actually I have only had one meal here that I did not like at all and it was a grilled cheese sandwich with the nasty Costa Rican cheese. I guess the good news is that I have really enjoyed the food here so far. Oh and if we don’t get the nasty white Costa Rican cheese then we get American Kraft singles… my roommate Margaret says good thing they don’t have the nasty spray cheese here.I decided that if I every move to Costa Rica I am going to live in a house in the mountains and hang out with the mountain farmers. That sounds like a pretty sweet life to me. I will be the strange American woman that just hangs out and knits sweaters and speaks bad Spanish.
Oh and turns out that sloths are actually called oso perezoso… not oso peligroso. Osos peligroso means dangerous bear…yeah maybe not an accurate description of a sloth, an animal that can’t even fight off moths. My entire Spanish class has decided to write all of our homework sentences for this evening about bears.
Anyway, time for bed. More class and such tomorrow.
It has been a few days since I last wrote, so I have plenty to say. I think I will split it into two different blogs postings. The first will be about the hospital in Turrialba. We traveled there this morning, stopped at a little restaurant where I had the best gallo pinto (beans and rice, the breakfast version) I have had in my entire time here. When we arrived at the hospital there was a lot of confusion about what we were supposed to do. At San Ramon they were much more organized and eager to show us what they do and hear what we do. At Turrialba only one of the technicians came on the tour with us and none of the rest of the technicians really talked to us at all. However, once we started the tour it was SO interesting. We got to go into all parts of the hospital and look at the pertinent machines. It was great to see the anesthetic machines, suction pumps, pulse oximeters, autoclaves, etc. that we have been learning about in our classes. It is so different to see things in real life than in the classes. I think the strangest experience was that we went right into rooms where there were patients and looked at equipment. I felt really disrespectful, like I was taking a tour of the zoo. However, we were as respectful as possible and it was nice to see where each piece of equipment is used. We also walked straight into the “sterile” surgery room; however we did not get scrubbed up and sterile. And once we left the room we left the door open. I found that extremely strange. Also they just left equipment running after they were done showing it to us. I can see now why there are strained relationships between doctors and technicians. If there is not respect for the space and equipment there is not going to be any respect for the people. Also, as we toured the hospital we saw a lot of equipment just being stored in the hallways. This was crazy to me as that would never be seen in an American hospital! Apparently they just don’t even have enough space to store equipment, so it sits in the hall until it is needed for a procedure.
We also got to work on some of the equipment in the repair shop. What I have discovered, though, is they give us all the equipment that they have tried to work on, are unable to fix, and often the equipment is on its way out of service. It is basically impossible to actually repair any of this equipment so it is frustrating to spend time “working” on the equipment with hopes that it will be repaired where in reality if we do “fix” anything I don’t really feel like it will be put back into service anyway. However, it is really interesting to take apart some of this equipment and see what happens underneath and I think it will be so much better having some knowledge of what problems could be as we head out to our hospitals next month. One of the machine I worked on today was an ECG machine. I found that the battery terminal was corroded, when I knew exactly how to fix because the terminals on my car often become corroded. Turns out my experience working on my car has come in handy after all!
As far as specs of the hospital, it was 150 beds that serve about 1000 people per day. The region of Turrialba serves 300,000 people and I believe is the only hospital in the area. It seems insane to me to have so many people that use one hospital. Hopefully they don’t have any epidemics soon.
I think that our experience today may be more similar to what I experience next month, but I am not sure. It will be so interesting to see how it goes next month! Anyway, next week we get to tour the children’s hospital in San Jose. So far these hospital experiences have been really great, so I am very much looking forward to seeing more.
Ok I have run out of time for writing right now, but I will do so again soon. Now we are headed off to Manuel Antonio beach.