Jen Sandoval


Jen Sandoval

This is a blog for all of my friends and family. For everyone that has supported me in so many ways. You all have shaped my experiences and made me who I am today. I am very excited that I will be able to share this experience with you in this small way. Thank you again for all that you have done for me and for joining me on this journey.

The somewhat inconvenient thing about living in Guatemala is that every 90 days my visa expires. So that meant that I had to leave the country for 72 hours and then come back in to renew my visa. Therefore, I had to suffer through spending 72 hours on the southern Belizean beaches of Placencia. It was amazing! It was a long journey from the mountainous highlands of Coban to the Placencia Peninsula. Two buses, a boat, another bus, another boat, a short hike, a hitched ride, and a day and a half later I arrived on the pristine white sand, palm lined beach. I wandered around the small town, population 900, and it was readily apparent that this was their off season. Several restaurants and bars were closed for the season or to complete renovations while ... read more
More amazing beach

Wow, two months! That sure went fast. Although sometimes when I think about all that I have done and all of the places that I have been it seems like much, much longer. September was pretty busy with two groups coming to visit so it went by super quick. We only have local dental groups in October so I am afraid that it is going to go really slow. But it looks like I am going to have to take a quick side trip to Belize in October so that will break things up a bit. A lot of my time has been spent with groups coming in from the US. I have been meeting some really cool people from a variety of backgrounds and I think that over the next year I'll be making a ... read more

Central America Caribbean » Guatemala » Verapaz Region » Cobán September 10th 2011

Last week we hosted a wonderful team of doctors and nurses for my first medical brigade. I really wasn’t sure what to expect from a medical group and how this type of team would work in the community. Jorge and I traveled to Guate on Saturday to meet the group and we returned to Coban the next day. On Monday we held our first clinic in the community of Granadilla. We had three consultation rooms and a pharmacy area filled with donated medications that we were able to hand out. I worked for the whole week with a wonderful nurse from Seattle. She would ask questions of the patient, which I would then translate into Spanish, which one of our field staff would translate into Q’eqchi’ and then the answer would go back in the reverse ... read more
The Dr is in

After our forth and final day of clinics we took a slightly different way back to Coban from the community. Along this route is the community of Rey Marcos. In 1998 after Hurricane Mitch swept through the region, a discovery was made in Rey Marcos. When we arrived we were given a pair of rubber boots and a hard hat with a headlamp. We walked up a few switchbacks along a small river of waterfalls cascading down the hill. Then the path seemed to just stop at the edge of one of the waterfalls. What we soon learned is that this was just the beginning of our adventure. Our guide took out a key, walked into the water, and unlocked the small door of medal bars that was set into the stone. One by one we ... read more
Enjoying the Adventure
Rene, Jorge, and Brian
Rushing River

We had a very exciting day for our office recently. The shipping container full of medicines and medical supplies that left Oregon sometime in June or July finally arrived to inland Guatemala. It is the first large shipment of supplies that has been shipped from MTI to Guatemala so there were definitely some unknowns and a lot of excitement surrounding the whole process. It was unclear when exactly the container would be arriving in to our area but Enrique got the call around 3pm one afternoon that the driver was in Coban and was ready for us to lead him to the next town of San Juan Chamelco where we would be storing the supplies. The Municipality of San Juan Chamelco graciously let us use the former mayors office for the storage of our supplies. Enrique ... read more
Donated exam tables and Walkers
Full House
Trying to get the door open.

Guatemala, the district of Alta Verapaz, and specifically the Municipality of San Juan Chamelco have staggering statistics regarding childhood illness, infant mortality, and maternal mortality. The numbers are hard to comprehend laid out on a white sheet of paper. When you enter into the communities the statistics doesn’t slap you in the face. You don’t see children with tiny arms and legs, lethargic from malnutrition. The people of the community are very welcoming and on the surface the suffering isn’t glaringly apparent. It is obviously a difficult life but it is tricky sometimes to see the statistics. Looking around at the unpaved roads, and the lack of electricity and running water in some communities, it makes you wonder how we got to be so lucky. What exactly was it in the development of our country that ... read more

While I had a great time with the group I have to admit that it was kind of exhausting. I am looking forward to being back in Coban and having a little bit of a routine in the office. Jorge and I worked together to create budgets and agendas for the next two groups who are arriving in September. I am picking things up pretty quickly and I am glad when I can be of some help somehow. My main goal especially in these first few weeks is to be less of a burden that I am help. I know that this is not always the case for a new employee and particularly for a new employee in a new culture. So far I think I’ve done pretty well on my burden to help ratio and ... read more
We made it!
Latrine with a view
Endless space

We had a great workweek with the team in Chitixl and then had an amazing despedida with the community. The leaders of the community, surrounded by many of the children, gathered at the school to give us a farewell. Members of community expressed their gratitude for the work that the team had done. They presented each member of the team with a locally made fabric as a token of their appreciation. It was a very touching moment that I am sure will not soon be forgotten. After saying out last goodbyes to the community we returned to the MTI office in Coban to have an additional farewell with the staff. Leaving Jorge in Coban to have a ‘relaxing’ weekend with his family, I left with the group up to the area of Flores. I had come ... read more

So I am playing a little bit of catch up here because I spent the last week out in the field with my first work group. Jorge, the teams coordinator, and I left last Sunday on a bus back to Guatemala City. It had been less that one week before that I was taking the same drive in the opposite direction upon my arrival to Guatemala. We met the group at the airport and immediately started to get to know one another on the shuttle ride to the hotel. It was a very diverse, intergenerational, and fun group. We had quite the spectrum of experiences from two 13-year-old boys on their first MTI trip with their fathers, to two college sophomores, to one young man who spent most of the past few years traveling around the ... read more
Laying the frame
House in the hills
Bath time

On Friday at the office Jorge and I finished all of the plans and gathered all of the supplies for the work team that is coming this week. We piled up all of our tools and stopped off at the market and double-checked the first aid kit. We are all ready to rock and roll. On Sunday Jorge and I will take the 4 to 5 hour bus ride into Guatemala City to meet the group at the airport. So on Saturday I decided to take some time getting to know Coban a little better. Let me preface this by saying that this is the week of La Feria in Coban something equivalent to that of the PNW Fair in Lynden. The town has really been a buzz all week because of this with fireworks, traditional ... read more
New Hostel

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