Friday, January 27, 2012

A worm, a cold shower, and dealing with drugs (Day 464)

I love having a USB modem.  It allows me to update from anywhere I can get signal.  I'm currently sitting on a bus waiting to head back to Antigua (and, ultimately, San Antonio Aguas Calientes).

I've spent the last week in Zacapa, Zacapa, Guatemala.  I've heard that this is a very dangerous area due to how many drug lords supposedly live here.  However, just as with most places in Guatemala, I have very little qualms about walking around familiar areas in the daylight.  I've been here with a group called Children of the Americas, translating for their medical clinic.  I start back at school on Monday.

The week has been fairly uneventful, but certainly not without things of note.  
First of all, Zacapa is one of the hottest places in Guatemala.  At first, the idea of a cold shower scared me.  However, I've been living in cold places where the water is typically colder and the mornings are typically colder.  A cold shower in Mixco is cold as you might recall from one of my journal entries about a year ago.  Cold showers in Antigua and San Antonio are about the same.  However, a cold shower in Zacapa--besides a tiny moment to acclimate the body to the water temperature such as wading into a swimming pool--is really nothing to fuss about.  In fact, it's quite welcome.

Faint of stomach will want to skip the next paragraph...

Second, I have worms...or had worms.  On the 25th, I woke up at 3:30 to go to the bathroom, and pooped out what looked like an 8-10" earthworm (along with my normal poo).  Needless to say, within 5 hours I was on anti-parasite medication.

Third, Klemente--one of my best friends who I met on my birthday last year--came to surprise me.  He is from La Union, Zacapa, but he works in Sacatepequez (currently in Sumpango).  He took some time off of work special to come up and spend some time with me and help with the clinic.  He isn't bilingual, but in the pharmacy, we mostly just need to read the Spanish labels to the people.  After about 4 or 10 medications, it becomes easy; you start recognizing the medications and what they're good for.  We found that I was best in the pharmacy because of my lack of patience.  Here is something that actually happened with me in the clinic (translated):
Doctor: Let's talk about her bloody nose.
Me: We are going to talk about the bleeding from your nose.
Patient: Yes, my nose.
Doctor: What other symptoms do you have with your bloody nose?
Me: What other symptoms do you have when your nose bleeds.
Patient: Yes, I have a bloody nose.  And my back hurts right [grimacing, as she moves to point to a spot at her back] here.
Me: No, we're talking about your nose, and your nose is not bleeding right now.  So, the back pain is not another symptom of the nose.  We want to know what you have at the same time as when your nose bleeds.  Do you have a headache?  Do you have a sore throat?  We are ONLY talking about the nose bleed.
Let's just say I was relieved when I was able to go back to the pharmacy.  It seems that my patience begins and ends with my English students.  Besides, where else can I use a toucan ring to explain medications to a 4-year old?

Klemente treated me to dinner, and then we took a walk to a school here in Zacapa where he attended middle school and high school.  I got to meet the headmaster of the school and his wife.  The interesting thing about this school is that it is, in a way, attached to the school where I work in Santiago Zamora.  Both schools are assisted by Children's Christian Concern Society, and since learning about this school, I've felt a special attachment to it.  Anyway, the bus is about ready to roll; so I guess I'll get going for now.

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