Sunday, October 27, 2013

When I "Grow Up" (If That Ever Really Happens)

Anabel and I at her confirmation. I was her sponsor!
 It's an actual physical sensation that moves through your veins. It is the result of a smile from a student enjoying my English lesson, an impromptu conversation with a random person on the street, or the pride of a young woman as she finally understands the computer lesson I've been struggling to teach her. What is this sensation that moves through my veins; makes me want to dance, sing, and shout; and forces me to walk down the street smiling to myself? It is pure, undiluted happiness. A sort of high that I only wish that I could recollect and dwell in when feeling down, this happiness has been gracing me lately with its sweet visits. My work is still challenging, but I am learning to love those difficulties and to find joy in them.

My family and I after the confirmation. Being her sponsor was both amazing and spirtually filling. To support her at such an important point of her life  meant a lot to me.

Rafa in the princess dress my mom brought her.
Hermana Marielena bringing Hermana Carmen her birthday cake. In the background are Chantelle's parents.

 A few weeks ago we had the delightful visit of one of our program's directors, Shannon. After a few days with her in Chulucanas, the four of us travelled to Iquitos. The largest city that cannot be reached by land, it is necessary to either drive or fly to this jungle surrounded, urban hub.


That's right. I just ate a fried worm.

Amazon fishing and touring boats.

Goofy picture of us and Shannon!

Iris, my parrot friend.
 Pirañas and pink dolphins are among the many attractions offered by the powerful Amazon river. Out first full day there we spent our time on a river boat ride where me made stops to see local animals including Paiche (a 4 foot long fish), alligator, parrots, sloths, monkeys (that were very loving and would not detach themselves from either Chantelle or Britt, allowing themselves to be carried like babies), and an anaconda (which we totally held!!!).

Hammock time!

Baby Monkey!

Baby turtle!

Blow gun practice.

Another stop of the  boat rode was the 2 visits to the villages of the Bora and the Jaguar. At both places the people, in their traditional dress, danced for us, invited us to dance, and then swarmed us trying to sell their handmade crafts. We all agreed that it was interesting to witness their cultures, but we found the whole thing awkward as it was almost commercialized.

Feeding baby manatees!

The next day, we visited Belen, a neighborhood famous for its floating homes and market. During the rainy season, Iquitos floods and if the homes do not float then people simply move to the second floor of their homes. Later that day we visited a manatee refuge where these endangered animals are nursed back into health and later released back into the Amazon. They are smaller than ocean manatees, but just as adorable! We were even allowed to feed and pet them. Next we visited the Iquitos zoo and rode paddle boats around its lake. All in all, our trip to Iquitos was a lot of fun and full of some amazing sights.
Padre Issac, my friend and patient!
Several weeks ago, we were visited once again by a medical campaign, this time composed of mostly surgeries. It was interesting to see many of the people that we first met in the June campaign and to see them in their healing process post-surgery. We also got  My first couple of days, I translated in the mornings for the podiatrist, Tim. It was fascinating to see his work (although admittedly a little gross!) and clear that he is very talented at what he does. In the afternoons I translated for Shannon, the physical therapist, a super fun ball of energy who clearly loves what she does. She would explain and demonstrate exercises and diagnoses to the patients with a vigor and explanation that would leave the patient wide-eyed. It was fun to try and reenact what she had done while simultaneously translating the information. The best part of all of this what that she worked along side Sister Janet, the Peruvian physical therapist who works at the CEO. Despite their language differences, both women have very similar personalities and it was hilarious to watch them successfully communicate.

Jesus and Carlos, the two nurses that worked with us in the PACU.
My other days of this two week campaign were spent in the Chulucanas hospital where the surgeries were performed. I mostly stayed translating in the Post Anasthesia Care Unit (PACU) for general surgery. Judy, Barbara, and Deb were the nurses that I worked with all week. All three are very talented and caring nurses as well as great women. Although my main job was translation, I spent much of my time chatting with patients and making them comfortable. I loved these personal interactions the most and it reconfirmed my ideas that I want to work with older people when I "grow up" (if that ever really happens). One of the days, I had the opportunity to translate in the operating room. While there was limited need for my language skills during the operations (most of the patients were asleep during the whole thing), it was fascinating to witness a real life surgery. Kelly and Larry, the surgeons, deftly repaired hernias and removed gall bladders in a way that can only be referred to as inspiring.

October 27th is a date that baffles, frightens, and excites me- and it's today. Today! I cannot believe how fast this year has flown by. As I walk through the streets of my adopted city, I study my surroundings and realize how comfortable I've become with them. I have become accustomed to Chulucanas, comfortable, and it's fun to remember how different this place is from Cape Cod. People keep asking me if I'm sad yet about having to leave so soon, especially my parents who nervously hope that I'm not thinking of permanently moving here. The truth is that I am both excited for future plans and reuniting with old friends and family, but very sad that it's almost December. Mixed and difficult emotions! All that I can do, I suppose is take my friend Italo's grandmother's advice: "Anda por el buen camino." "Walk the good path." Coincidentally almost the same advice my father has given me my whole life, "Take the easy way, not the hard way."

Les quiero hasta las estrellas...

No comments:

Post a Comment