Even though most things are pretty normal after a couple months down here, there are still some occasions when it really hits me that I am living in Peru. This past weekend was one of those.
Saturday we had a free health clinic in Cambio Puente through the Posta Santa Clara (where I spend my Thursdays and Fridays). We loaded our team into a combi that I was sure was going to collapse with the weight of the exam table on the roof and drove the bumpy, dusty road through the rice patties. Somehow, we made it there (and more importantly, back) safely and unloaded all our supplies. We had two general medicine doctors, countless nurses, physical therapy, psychology, a pharmacy and dental all for free. Typically, I do not like just giving things away, but healthcare is a little different. One of the ways to help encourage systemic change in Peru, is to help strengthen the local economy. Having a healthy workforce is vital. As I have said before (and probably will say another 39823 times), healthcare in Peru is seen as a privilege and the working class simply cannot afford the care they need. That is why I love free health clinics. I feel that rather than encouraging dependence, it prompts people to look at their health from a preventive standpoint. While people were waiting to be seen by the doctors, we were able to slip in some general education on parasites. Somehow, I was talked into portraying the parasite in our skit. The Peruvians all said it was because the parasite had the fewest lines. I believe it was because they wanted to scare the kids and I am the tallest person on staff. Our two doctors were able to see over 50 patients in just under four hours. We were able to fill most prescriptions with the donations we have received over a couple months. I was running the pharmacy and it broke my heart every time I had to tell someone that we longer had the medicine they had been prescribed. We did not have any antiparasitics which was by far the most common prescription. I had to remind myself that doing what little I could was better than nothing.
Sunday, I had a very Peruvian day. My host family and I decided to go to the beach. We originally planned on leaving at 9:00, so naturally, at 10:45 we loaded six people into a tiny Peruvian taxi. To get to the beach, we had to drive through some sand dunes, requiring us to get out and push the taxi. We got to the ocean and from there had to get on a boat to head to the playa. The boat was full of about 30 Peruvians who do not know how to swim wearing life jackets that would maybe save a toddler. After nearly capsizing twice and have the motor die numerous times, we hopped from our boat to another in the middle of the bay and puttered along the way. At 12:30 we got to the beach safely where we set up camp for the day and watched three locals try to put up a tarp in the blowing wind for more than 30 minutes. Needless to say, it was a very Peruvian day and I loved every second of it.
A huge thanks to everyone who has sent me packages and letters. Not only does it ensure that my supply of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups never runs too low, but it keeps me going on those days where home and next fall just seem way to far away. Likewise, all the emails are appreciated more than you can know!