by Hal Schade from s/v Griffin
While in the Rio Dulce in Guatemala, Lynn and Hal often fill their days working at the local clinic. Lynn is a nurse and Hal’s background includes hospital administration. Here is a virtual walk to the clinic he wrote that we really enjoyed….
It's Thursday and I should be going to the village clinic, but I have some things I need to do here. While I'm waiting I thought I'd take you on a walk, virtual that is, to the clinic. Now dust off that old imagination and here we go.
With the sun just clearing the trees and mountains to the east, you head north out of the marina on a concrete sidewalk that is dusted a verdant green by the rainy season with little eco-systems in every crack. The sidewalk doesn't last too long and then you are on a dirt/mud path intersected by trails from cutter ants off for their daily forage. There is no breeze so the trail is humid, closed in by vegetation and occupied mostly by buzzing insects, although there are some birds lending their songs to the trip. Dips in the path are spanned by wood planks here and there, just be careful not to slip on the mold!!!!!
On your left is the residence of a well-to-do Guatemalan with house and grounds keepers, but you pass that quickly and come back to reality. The path emerges onto a "pipeline" road that follows an oil pipeline that supplies the northern part of the country after crossing the Rio Dulce underwater. The "road is composed of large and small rounded rocks worked smooth by feet and water. It is still humid, but now you have lost the shade from the trees, so add HOT from the sun. The road dips down in places, but no need for bridges, just walk around the puddles. Goats and chickens, even an aggressive turkey and some very skinny dogs of questionable parentage populate the side of the road. Some are behind fences while others steadfastly guard their portion of the road. Say hola and buenos dias to the families along the road as they wash their clothes with river water and build fires for the day's cooking. Be sure to return their smiles and if you have your camera, take a picture and show them, they love it.
On your left is a "restaurant" which was recently opened by Emelda who cooks the best carne quisada in the world…reservations not necessary. Wood smoke fills the air as you join kids on their way to the village school, some dressed in school togs and others in less fancy wear, shoes not required. After you make this trip a few more times, they will recognize you and maybe even call you by name. The girls huddle together and whisper while the boys are just boys.
As you turn toward the heart of the village the road slopes toward the main creek that is the water supply for those without wells. A lot of chickens find this a good place to find food. The trees behind the fence each have a cup attached to catch the raw latex from the rubber trees. Some young men have a fishing net strung between trees mending holes.
We are now climbing toward the center of the village and you can hear the sounds of children around the school. Some ladies pass with baskets of food they will sell when the kids get out of class. As the road comes out of the trees, the soccer field spreads before you with the school on the other side, a church at the far end, and about midfield on the far side is the clinic.
The door is not open yet as Karen, the jungle nurse who founded this with her husband Mike and a lot of help from friends around the world, has not arrived. You wade through the ankle-deep wet grass and around mud puddles...the goalie's area is a mess, bare, muddy and pocked with cleat marks from athletic shoes that have been sewn and glued together so many times you can't count that high! The porch of the clinic provides seating for the moms and their kids who are waiting to explain their ills and hoping for relief. You wait for Karen with the key, sweating like you had been running for an hour. When you look around you realize that no one else is sweating...will you ever get used to it? You recognize familiar faces, already know the symptoms...pregnant mothers compare bellies, old men sit apart contemplating who-knows-what. The greetings are friendly, but the smiles are huge when Karen emerges from the path across the field. They love her and rightfully so. She has come by lanche, a fiberglass boat that rests now on a small shore on the other side of the village. After many words and hugs, Karen makes her way to the door lock, turns the key and the clinic begins...
Have a nice walk around your world today...