Blogs from Cobán, Verapaz Region, Guatemala, Central America Caribbean


Hola Amigos! So, I haven’t written anything for about two months as life has been very hectic. The last I mentioned, I was in Manipal doing field research with HIV/AIDS patients, which was an amazing, humbling experience. I worked with one family in particular who were migrant workers from northern Karnataka who traveled all the way to Manipal because of the stigma attached to having HIV, so that none of their family or community would find out about their status. This couple had a little boy who was HIV negative, and the mother was worried that she or her husband could pass on HIV to her son. You see, part of the problem with the ART centers and hospitals is that there are so many patients to see everyday, and so social support and educational opportunities ... read more
Street View

Friday was a trip from Antigua to Coban. The sole purpose of this lengthy (7 hour) trip was to get closer to the Semuc Champey, which we will visit tomorrow. We were picked up from our hotel in Antigua by a mini-van. We were the first on, and took the seat behind the driver. It turned out to be the roomiest spot on the bus, but it was a very long ride in a not so comfortable van. We picked up more people than was comfortable and finally left the city about an hour after we were first picked up. We had an Australian couple, a French couple, a guy from Tyler, Texas, one from Houston and another female. We had some traffic, but otherwise the roads were generally good. We ate lunch at a roadside ... read more
Hot sauce on breakfast (Clay eats this sauce at every meal).
Beautiful Casa Duranta
Casa Duranta Courtyard, lovely!

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 24th 2011

After our little mini chill out in El Remate, we continued on to the town of Coban. We stayed here as it is a good stepping stone in order to get to Semuc Champey, the famous clear water pools of Guatemala. Again the bus trip to our destination was full of antics and craziness which you may have realised is a bit of a running trait here in Central America. This time the driver decided he fancied a chat with his friend in another bus, and therefore he just pulled alongside his buddies van, being in the wrong lane, and stayed there chit-chatting away until a car came the other way before quickly pulling in and repeating this once the vehicle had passed. Anyway, after a fairly long and dangerous drive, we finally made it to ... read more
View from the Mirador of Secuc Champey
View from the Mirador of Semuc Champey
One of the pools of Semuc Champey

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

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

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