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Published: October 24th 2009
Clothes to dryMy life in El Salvador
the dryin clothes hanging out back
So i made it to Estancia, El Salvador 3 weeks ago, without problems. This blog is a bit overdue, but i hope this suffices. Unfortunately my first entry from El Campo (the countryside) is general life stuff without too many stories. But next week ill update you all on my stories, and for a preview checkout the end. Enjoy:
1) Estancia, El Salvador
2) My Life is Sweet
3) Clinic work
4) A Day in the Life
5) Highlights: Kids, Dogs, Clothes by Hand
6) The Other Couple
7) Preview for Next Time
8) Call Me 1) Estancia, El Salvador.
I live in Estancia. They speak spanish here, they dont have electricity, but some people have a water hose. Most people have dirt floors, some people have bricks or cinderblock walls, others have bamboo walls. Most have tin roofs. Everyone is clean and baths daily. everyone wears clean clothes, despite washing it by hand and working in the fields. And everyone, everyone is friendly.
Thats pretty much sums up life pretty well. I think it responds to most preconceptions about living off the land with little money in developing countries.
not only do we have coffee and a french press, but the little old lady who cooks luck roasts the beans out back herself.
As hard as life is here, its also easy living. I think the best way to describe it though is in bits and pieces:. 2) My Life is Sweet
So this is basically everything ive been looking for. Im speaking spanish, out in the boonies, miles from stress and civilization, and its wonderful. And as ´hard´as life is out here, for us, its pretty easy living. Weve got a beautiful house, and in reality, its the ‘’fairest in all the land.’’ The house was built for volunteers (mostly americans), so it was done up real nice. Its got tile floors, a patio with a hammock, a shower, 2 lightbulbs, and a bathroom with running water. And all of these things set it apart from other houses here. And in terms of easy living, we dont have a kitchen so we eat in the clinic (5 min walk). The clinic has a cook who cooks lunch for all the staff, and it is stocked weekly with fresh food. (everything here is fresh because the closest refridgerator is 10 miles away). So for breakfast and dinner we cook with those supplies or sometimes we heat up leftovers. However, the
early on, i reorganized the clinics library. Thats Bela, the other dude, helpin out.
land here is rich so we have a changing array of fruits and vegetables every week. And the food has not been repetitive yet. But to be honest i am sick of corn tortillas and i would kill for some bread. Theres no meat, but all the beans and eggs have been plenty of protein. And beyond that we are chillin.
The surroundings are georgeous! Estancia is a valley surrounded by hills and mountains. Its lush green and filled with rivers, forests, animals etc. Everywhere we go is a hike, and there are cows, chickens, turkeys, and horses all over the place. One of my favorite parts about living here thus far has been the amount of hiking ive been able to do without actually going on a hike. 3) Clinic Work
The clinic work is by far the most challenging. Though every day it gets a bit easier as i see and learn more. The transition from med student (one who comes up cockymany plans) to a pre-doctor/ health promoter (one who makes real decisions and hands over medicine to the patient) has been tough. Especially since im trying to learn medicine, Spanish, and Campo Spanish
scrubbinÂ´ that dirt out out (of clothes...by hand)
(i.e. a boonyville version of it) all at once. But its coming a long nicely. In the clinic is a health promoter with >10 years´ experience. And in that time, she´s had many real doctors (and med students) around to constantly help her learn more. So she knows A LOT, and i defer to her constantly. In addition, there are 2 other medstudents working in the clinic here too. So we work together and on tough patients bounce ideas off each other all day long. As hard as it is, its very fulfilling, and its a new experience seeing it all done beginning to end. Going from the living/social situation, hearing the problems, developing a diagnosis, choosing a treatment despite limited resources, and putting it all together to see them at followup, we do it all. Medical assistant, nurse, doctor, farmacist, social worker, etc. And that is awesome. 4) A Day in the Life
We get up around 5-530 and get to the clinic soon there after. From 6-8 we set up the clinic and cook breakfast. This means sweeping, mopping, restocking, organizing, cleaning etc. And sometimes, if we have time, i try to study spanish too.
hiding from the camera
after hiding a few times, williamÂ´s brother and sister dragged him into the shot.
Then from 8.-4 we see patients, though we do have a big lunch with the entire staff (about 10 people total because of the many other projects). And on slower days, we spend the afternoons developing public health talks, working on special long term patients, and arranging specialist appointments. At the end of the day we either go on a house visit to see patients who couldnt make it to the clinic or we hang around the clinic. We then cook dinner and head home to shower and sleep. 5) Highlights: Kids, Dogs, Clothes by Hand.
We have 5 young constant companions across the street. The family has 5 kids, ages 4-11, and they´re with us most nights. They´re really fun and they love to teach spanish and goof off. And its endearing that they like us as much as we like them. We also have a dog. In reality its there dog. But she spends most of her time with us in the mornings and evenings. That might be becuase we turned her into an american dog who has now become more accustomed to a hand that pets then a hand that smacks (as opposed to
the clinic window
view from the exam roomÂ´s window
most dogs here), or because we sometimes feed her...but i like to think its because i have a special way with dogs. Shes actually in heat right, and after havin seen many suitors, im hoping for puppies by Feb.
Slighty less fun has been washing clothes by hand. To be blunt, it SUCKS!. It was fun to have done it, once, to learn to appreciate a washing machine. But now im ready to stop learning and start appeciating. 6) The Other Couple
4 of us share the house, the other 2 are a med student couple from Rochester. They´re both from the midwest (illinois and indiana), and they are very very midwest. Super chill and super fun. We def. all lucked out cuz we get a long well and have a lot in common. The dudette is also fluent in spanish, while the dude is learning spanish like me. So him and i are both big pushers for spanish only when all together. Speaking of which, my spanish is coming a long nicely.. its still frustrating as i already mentioned, but ive come to terms with the fact that you cant learn a new language without
The Road Home
the road outside the clinic
being frustrated sometimes. 7) Next Time
So thats it from here. Ive got tons and tons of more stories for you guys. I know this one was kind of dry, i was going for a general wrap up. But next time stay tuned for more:
- my first house visit to see an epileptic girl who fell into a fire during a seizure
- a scorpion sting which left 1 of us 4 volunteers paralyzed for 5 hours
- river swimming
- and a whole lot more. 8) Call Me
If anyone has skype or a calling card and wants to call me. Heres my number: (country code 503) 7579-8964. its on all the time and nights are especially good for me. We´re 2 hours behind EST, and anytime after 4pm here i can talk.
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