Day Nine: Spelunking

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September 9th 2012
Published: September 20th 2012
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Our original plan for today was to take a canoe trip to the zoo before an afternoon and evening of training with the health promoters. However, even though we are in the rainforest, it has not rained since we’ve been here. In fact, it hasn’t rained in a week and the locals are getting worried because the river is so low. Instead of canoeing, we went spelunking. It was awesome. I’ve been to Mammoth Cave before.. that is nothing. We were completely underwater at point during this adventure. It was crazy. At one point, our guide rubbed mud all over our faces because it was said to help with wrinkles and zits. While we were down one of the tributaries, we all turned out headlamps off while our guide told us stories. It was so dark I thought I was going to pass out from my eyes trying so hard to see. There are lots of parts of this cave that have special meaning to the local people. At the end of our adventure, right before we exited the cave, there was a waterfall and three deep holes filled with water below it. One was 15 meters deep, one 5 meters, and one 2 meters. They are said to be healing wells. You jump in each one and then get the energy from the waterfall. Our guide went first and went all the way to the bottom of each well. They were only 2 feet wide! No way was I doing that. I just dipped in each one!

After that adventure, we had pizza (yummm) at our hostel and headed to the second day of training with the health promoters. Cat wasn't feeling well so I did the training on newborn health, umbilical cord care, bathing a newborn, maternal health, breastfeeding, and healthy pregnancies. The health promoters had so many questions about these topics and it was awesome to interact with them and learn some of their cultural norms for these topics.They were very concerned with what to do if a mother comes to them and can't produce breastmilk and cannot afford formula. This is a very real problem for them because moms are very often dehydrated and malnourished. We concluded they can have another mom nurse the infant anhd if they need to, they can give the infant chicha (rice water). It would be beneficial, if this training happens in the future, to include nutrition tips that are specific to the types of food they eat there. We also did our presentations on teethbrushing, handwashing, parasites, and kitchen sanitation. At the end of the session, we asked if there was anything we could improve for next year when we come and they had lots of great ideas. I would love to come back and watch this program grow!

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