4/9/09

Welcome to Curahuasi!











We arrived in Curahuasi without a major hitch. The trip from Nashville to Miami to Lima to Cusco included many a flight delay. Go figure. Michael was sorely dissapointed that the Miami airport neglected to show the Final Four tournament on any of its TV moniters. Thankfullly that was the extent of our problems!

We deplaned in Cusco, grabbed our bags, and hopped a ride with a trusted cabbie who came highly recommended by the hospital staff. The dusty, winding Pan-American highway afforded beatiful scenic views of the Andes, and for three hours we wound our way toward snow-capped mountains. Peruvian drivers carry a notorious reputation for their lead foot, particularly while careening around the mountain curves ala Dale Earnhart. As Michael told said, "I didn't feel unsafe, but..." I, on the other hand, was white knuckled, stomach clenched most of the drive.

Upon arrival in our village of Curahuasi, we were met by many stray dogs (they are everywhere!) and tons of portly pigs. Cows, horses and mules also dotted the road side, roaming free at their leisure. Warm greetings of "Buenos Dias" (good day) were abundant from our new neighbors.

Primarily a farming community, Curahuasi is comprised of Quetchu who eek out a meager living by harvesting onions, potatoes and annice. Curahuasi is known as the annice "capital" of Peru, and when processed it takes much like licorise. Regrettably, many family farms in this region have turned their attention to growing cocoa, as cocoa commands a high price because its properties are integral to producing cocaine.

After dropping off our bags in our room at Diospi Suyana Hospital, we took a tour of the facilities. Fifty-five beds, an emergency room, internal medicine and pediatrics clinics, physical therapy and obstetrics share a space here. The hospital is meticulous and staffed by mostly German docs and Peruvian nurses.

Spanish is the primary modus operandi here, and so Miguel and I have been trying to learn very quickly in the last 24 hours. Even the Germans converse in Spanish, so often we say, "Despacio por favor" (slow down, please!), and then quickly consult our English/Spanish dictionaries.
Work began for us today in the medicine clinics. Dr. Miguel (that's Michael, if you haven't caught on yet) joined Dr. Alex in seeing both children and adults. I shadowed them, fetched patients from the waiting rooms, and scribbled lots of language notes ie "rodilla=knee" and "cabesa=head" and "manos =hands". Miguel followed along like a pro, and soon he will have his own clinic in the hospital.

Today's patients complained of pretty standard ailments common to this Apurimac region: respiratory problems, due to cooking with fire pits in adobe mud huts with no ventillation, back pain from carrying heavy loads of cargo (produce strapped on the back, bambino slung across the breast), and headaches (due to working in high altitude with little or no hydration). Worms and gastro intestinal issues also topped the list. This is one souvenier I hope we don't transport home!

After a lovely lunch of salad (only safe to eat at Dr. Alex & Dr. Laura's place) and ciabatta bread at the apartment of the docs, we returned to the hospital via the lush, green walking path that runs from "town" up a massive hill to the Hospital. Miguel and I were recruited to help screen/interview prospective hospital employees, as there are a few openings for nurses and lab techs. We had over 100 Peruvians turn out for the interviews, and after administering a written exam, we spent several hours grading them. Both of us have a whole new respect for teachers now! For sustinence, Dr. Tina (who started the Hospital with her husband) brought us some rich, delicious coffee and apple fritters from another planet. The fritters came from a local Curahuasian bakery that I will be visiting way too often now.

Thursday thru Sunday the Hospital shuts down in observance of Semana Santa (Easter), so we will have a chance to sleep in, hike the majestic Mirador trail-- with begins a stone's throw from the doc's apartment-- and hopefully catch a glimpse of the rare Condorres in flight. In the evening, I will join the German OB and his wife to play music for the youth of Curahuasi.
So far we are feeling well, eating well, and sleep comes easily. We do not miss having a TV, radio and traffic gridlock. The simple life is sweet here. There is never an idle moment at the Hospital, and we are grateful we can plug into such a vibrant and important health ministry here in the middle of paradise.

PS. Day two and still no TARANTULAS or SCORPIONS spotted in our living quarters. Praise God!

5 comments:

Gina said...

Lizza and Mike, this is sooooo interesting. I realize that today you are off and hopefully have and opportunity to rest and enjoy the country. I can't begin to tell you how proud I am of you two! Know that I love you dearly
and wish you a wonderful trip. Back when we were growing up we had to have "worm" treatments every summer. Kenny even did a science project on the eradication of the hook worm...Even took it to the state contest! So be sure to ask your Dad about worms!!He is an
expert (haha).

Have a wonderful Easter!

I love you,
Aunt Gina

Gina said...

Lizza and Mike,

I just wrote a long comment and I think that it was lost!!

Anyway, I wanted to tell you how proud I am of the two of you for giving your time and your labor of love to those less fortunate that all of us. I think that this is such a beautiful expression of who you really are and what you believe. I pray that you will remain safe and well.

Your Daddy, Lizza, is an expert on "worms!" He did a science project while he was in school on the eradication of the Hook Worm...
Of course, that was 50 years ago but he even went to the FL State Science Fair with the project. Back when we were growing up our grandmother, Dosh (a nurse), made sure we got our worm treatment whether we needed it or not!
Yuk!!!

Enjoy your Easter vacation...get some rest, take a hike, and just enjoy your new surroundings!

Know that I love you two so much!
Aunt Gina

Lisa said...

so glad to hear that you arrived safely and are settling in well! :) the village looks beautiful from the pictures. keep the updates coming!

Jonathan said...

Sounds like you guys are having a great experience. Hope you had a happy Easter.

dduncan said...

WOW!! I'm so excited for you guys and I admire you for what you are doing!! You will be in my prayers and I will def be following your journey!!