Guatemala 2013 (Day 5)
Clap! Clap! Clap! That is the noise of the Guatemalan cooks patting out homemade breakfast tortillas on the veranda. Every time I completed a lap this morning I was met with their clapping. I imagined it was for me. Little things go a long way to helping my self esteem. Three miles is all I managed today. Adam joined me for the last mile. Typical. Also in the mix was 100 sit-ups and 60 pathetic looking push-ups.
Breakfast: Ham and cheese omelets, salsa, Guatemalan cream of wheat, black beans, pineapple, flour tortillas.
Because JoLee does not work steady in the sterilization room I have neglected to post about her adventures. JoLee is a fixture here, so she wanders around and does a bit of everything as needed. She sometimes works as a translator, at other times helps in the recovery ward, and on occasion gives us a hand in sterilization. This week she has busied herself translating ABC children’s sponsor letters. The children in the HTI ABC program write letters in their native tongue to their sponsors in the states. Obviously not all sponsoring families speak these languages, and so the letters have to be translated into English. JoLee to the rescue! The ABC children are very creative, however, and douse their letters with glitter. In the hot and sticky climate the glitter sticks to skin. JoLee is very sparkly.
Today was an adventure. The surgery load was light so HTI scheduled two trips to Lake Attitlan for the surgical team to see some of the amazing countryside of this beautiful country. I had been before, but I decided to accompany Courtney so she did not have to strike off alone. Adam stayed behind to assist on a hernia surgery, and Steve stayed behind to wash the last surgical set.
Lake Attitlan is a volcanic crater lake and is surrounded on every side by lush green volcanoes that climb to a smoky point. The ride to the lake is a windy assent through far reaching coffee plantations. It is breathtaking. The bus taking us on our journey was the sketchiest looking bus I have ridden on in my times in Guatemala. I made a comment about it to Courtney and then did not think much more of it. We all piled in and left the clinic for our fun day of sightseeing. Ten minutes before reaching lake Attitlan, on a steep slope, the belt that turned the radiator fan snapped. Because the bus was a flat nosed bus the engine was located underneath the first set of seats. The radiator exploded and sent scalding water into the cabin burning one of our team members legs. The burns were not severe, and they were immediately treated (we were, after all, a bus full of medical professionals). Once the wounds were treated we took in our situation. We were stranded. The bugs swarmed on us. The sun beat down on us. Courtney, who is taking malaria medicine that makes you photosensitive, immediately turned pink. We waited an hour and finally help arrived. They sent a 13 seat van to pick up 21 of us (not including the driver). I have never been in such an overcrowded vehicle. We had people on top of people who were then on top of people. The sticky heat made this especially unpleasant.
When we arrived at lake Attitlan we all piled out of the clown car and had a nice lunch at a local restaurant overlooking the lake. It was truly lovely. We explored a little and then waited for a replacement bus to show up and take us home. The bus never arrived. We called the bus company multiple times and they kept telling us that the bus was close. We continued to wait. As luck would have it the town we were in was having some kind of festival which included a tuck-tuck parade (tuck-tucks are tiny three wheeled taxi buggies with no doors). The tuck-tucks in the parade were all decked out (like you would decorate a float). There was a batman tuck-tuck and a transformer tuck-tuck and a Jesus tuck-tuck. I was impressed. After the parade the locals gathered at a makeshift bandstand and were laughing and carrying on with someone leading them (we could not see the bandstand itself from where we were). At one point someone threw a pack of firecrackers into the crowd that sent the crowd scurrying. Instead of being upset the locals just laughed it off. I thought it was pretty funny too (aside from the possibility of losing an eye).
Lunch: Courtney = Bacon wrapped filet mignon, potato au gratin, mixed vegetables, broccoli soup, dinner rolls, lemonado soda (cost about eight U.S. dollars). Jesse = Steak, corn on the cob, rice, refried beans, guacamole, flour tortillas, salsa, broccoli soup, dinner rolls, lemonado soda (cost about 6 U.S. dollars).
The bus never arrived. We arranged for two vans to take us back. On our way back we got stuck in a standstill traffic jam. We all got out of the vans and walked up and down the road between the traffic talking with the locals (many of which were riding in the back of pick-ups on their way home from the fields). Finally the traffic moved again and we made it back to the clinic.
Because of the nature of the day I don’t have my usual outtakes. Here are a couple of candid moments that Courtney and I did share, however:
Jesse (to Courtney while walking along a more shady remote part of the shoreline of lake Attitlan): I should tell you that I’m not chivalrous. Don’t expect me to save you from assailants. Maybe if there’s one assailant, and I size up the odds and they seem in my favor…but if there are five or ten you’re out of luck. I run faster than you. The odds of my getting away are much better. There’s no sense in us both dying. It’s nothing personal, it’s just logic. Sometimes you have to take one for the team, Courtney.
Jesse (to Courtney as we walk to another part of town to see what a commotion was all about): I know we’re safe because we’re following two other dumb Americans.
[This is true, two other Americans were ahead of us]
Little Guatemalan boy who seemed to be a ring leader for the other little Guatemalan boys to Courtney: Facebook?
[He kept repeating “Facebook?” over and over again. I think he wanted to friend her.]
Adam (to Steve as he edits Jesse’s day 5 blog): He spelled dinner rolls with R O L E twice! That means he didn’t know better.
Adam (to Jesse): Can you even spell grammar?