wk4: Interview extravaganza

26 06 2010

Hello friends, it’s amazing that almost a month has passed here! Time flies, though I am glad the beginning flew by since the first weeks were either pure heat or pure rain. Now the climate is more toward my liking (Thank you Honduras). Overall, it has been really nice with comfortable temperatures in the high 70s/low 80s and rain mostly at night. The once bulging, road covering rivers of before have amazing gone down multiple feet in a week. That water goes somewhere! (to see captions, just roll your mouse over the picture)

Anyhow, here is this week’s digest:

Sunday: La Pintada! So for a weekend tourist event, I went horseback riding to La Pintada. Only $15 for a three hour tour (though I later learned that the hotel guy who arranged it for me took $10 and only gave $5 to my guide who owns the horse, brought the horse, walked next to me while I rode for 2 hours and guided me around La Pintada.) Next time, I am directly calling Hector, my dutiful guide and father for 5. In short, the ride was nice (though I wished Hector could ride also, but he prefers to stay on foot lest the horse gets spooked). Having some riding experience helped. We followed a dirt road way up in the hill village of La Pintada, where they are famous for their brightly colored corn husk dolls. However, being Sunday and not as many tourists, only a few children came to hawk their wares (I hear it’s usually tons in a mob). We then hiked to Las Sapos, a small site thought to be a birthing area for the ancient Mayans. The stones are carved with intricate designs of a woman giving birth (I would have missed it completely if Hector had not pointed it out), a toad “sapo” and a dragon like altar. Supposedly, the last baby born in the calendar year was sacrificed there. In any case, it was a pleasant day and I only got a little sunburned.

Monday: With the MANCORSARIC team in meetings, I went to the birthing clinic to do more interviews (LOTS this week). While it’s a biased sample with me talking to women who actually come to the clinic, I got to talk with many from a wide range of places. Plus, I met an American OB-GYN working with a team of med/nursing/pharm students and a basic surgery team from U Wisconsin who came as part of the Rice Foundation to do a clinic and needed surgeries. I tried to help explain a little of the current health and tried to help them network better with MANCORSARIC (although they networked through churches, I figure it’s even better if for the future they connect with the health agency who really knows who needs what in the community.) At the very least, I learned about an annex on the birth clinic that serves as an operating theater (aka future medical trips!). Commuting was fine this time and it was good to get some clinic time. Plus, I am more motivated to work out daily so working on that.

Tuesday: Otuta, one of the most beautiful places I have in a long time. Hella hard to get to (you really need a tall, four-wheel drive monster to get through, or a horse, since the creeks (almost river) are covering the roads in parts. Here we went for another health center audit. As for me, a health promoter and I walked throughout the surrounding area, meeting and interviewing many pregnant women or mothers for my study. Roughly 10-11 that day, which crossing foot bridges over Rio Blanco (White River), which it is with crystal clear water running over large rocks. Gorgeous! We hiked up and down through the neighborhoods to talk to women (how some get to their homes in the rain with steep treacherous hills I have no idea). There were a variety of mud houses from dirt floor with a plastic chair and a foam mattress to tiled floors with cement walls (but still barely furniture). The health center sat next to a school so I got to see a bunch of kids. Sometimes I wish I had bubbles or something with me to give. The audit was not too long and we left by 3:30. I think with one of the docs, he is either a little more efficient or just does not say as much as when we are with other team leaders but it’s all part of the experience.

Wednesday: On my own! I returned to Cabañas where I only got a few interviews previously due to rain and timing. They were having their pregnancy club day, where they try to see all the pregnant women in one day, offering a meal and a health talk in the meantime (from the lentil mix from USAID we delivered to one place earlier on). So I managed to get there via public transit and back. Lots of interviews as well as a chance to check out the Wisconsin group clinic (set up in town 5 minutes from the health center, though they did not know it). Not a ton of interviews in the clinic that day but I was able to walk around a bit. I really met some nice people that day living in the area and enjoyed getting out in to the community and a little independence. The town is having their fair this weekend, especially Friday with a coronation ceremony. In preparation, they were setting up beautiful fridge across the streets that almost glittered in the sun. The fridge did start to block the roads so I moved to another place to catch the bus (which I thought left at 3:30 but was really 4. Nonetheless, in waiting I met a nice older woman and we talked while waiting and through the bus ride to Santa Rita. I feel like I am getting to at least know some people here a little better. Getting from Santa Rita to Copan was a pain (an annoying bus driver that never leaves on time and starts to drive away when another fast bus comes by but then stops to wait for more passengers.). But overall, pretty nice.

Thursday: The MANCORSARIC team and I went off to the farthest area we have covered so far in a small town of La Esperanza in San Jeronimo municipality. They too had their pregnancy club and due to limited space, had all my interviews under a tree outside with two chairs. The women were very nice and many came to talk to me after the health promoter introduced me after a health talk. In part, many had time to kill as they waited for their prenatal care “consulta,” to which the process was slowed by our team’s presence. But with shade and a beautiful breeze, almost chilly at times, my work was made easy. Lunch was a challenge as usually we buy it from someone who makes it for us in the community (a hot lunch for ~$2), but today it was a lunch of whatever we could find in the convenient stores (pulperias) aka a Pepsi, canned meat (like cat food) and crackers (plus half a Clif bar, with the other half later given to one of the workers who didn’t have time to eat at all). After I essentially ran out of pregnant women to talk to, I talked with some locals, mostly kids (and 2 very drunk men who would not leave me alone for a while). I was rather an odyssey to them, since practically no Americans go there. Plus, I made friends with Manuel, a local kid who showed me his baby cow, who was people-friendly. By 4:30 or so, we managed to leave, with the ride home through the hills being so beautiful in the waning sun. The light afforded me enough time for a run to the Ruins and back so another good day under the belt.

Friday: Agua Caliente! After last week’s unsuccessful attempt, we were able to make it to the health center in AC. The road that was previously in ruins was repaired (2 big PVC pipes and seemingly 3 truckloads or more of dirt has patched it for now). With less rain, it was easier to cross though the 24km trip still took an hour as we went ~30mph or less the whole way due to really rough roads. But this is the site of the hot springs, though unfortunately, the locals do not get to benefit from the tourist site in any collective way or even get to use it (unless they pay 200L or ~$11 to enter which is out of their price range). Not much of even a tourist trade there.

The town is in a narrow valley by a small river and amazingly, people have carved out homes on steep slopes, seemingly treacherous to hike up or down if muddy. Here, I hiked around with the health promoter to various homes of the pregnant women, ranging from basic dirt floored 2-4 room houses with wood “stoves” or metal plates on an indoor open fire (with throat burning smoke) to cement walled and floored homes. In general, most of the women preferred midwives and honestly, I cannot blame them. It costs at least 50Lempiras (~$2.75) each way to get to the birthing center on mostly a bumpy road that takes ~2hrs and is completely reliant on public transportation which does not run at night. So unless you pay a car $16 dollars (~300L) one way that you can find, one might just have the baby on the floor if waiting anyway so why risk crossing rough roads at night that have steep drop offs and leave behind your children and support systems. Many trust the midwives who have delivered their previous 3-9 children, so to them there is not much of a difference in their minds between them and a doctor. However, it’s a big risk as if something does go wrong, now those 3-9 children are motherless. Many of these women have not had proper ultrasounds to even know if the baby is in good position (though the health center nurses can get a decent estimate by feel). MANCORSARIC is thinking about having another birthing center up in that region which may alleviate this preference for home birth, though like most countries, getting docs to work so far out of is hard (at least El Jaral is on a paved highway).

Overall, it was an interview-productive day with some exercise and new friends (bonding over garden talk) and we were able to make it back at a decent hour for dinner and a DVD movie.

Saturday: Not exciting. Slept in late and took care of a few school business things. I think after all my adventures going to a different place every day, I think a quiet day with books, studies, and a Denny’s style breakfast (simple omelet and pancakes) is just fine for this traveler. The thought was to see the Cabañas fair but after a few recommendations against it, I stayed in. Sunday will likely be a hiking/market day, but for now, some RnR.

Thanks for reading!

M201-0668283 <!–The Pharmacy Manager will have your file within the next 24 hours.


– Kaitlin Rawluk



One response

28 06 2010

Wow! What a week!! Your “adventures” are fascinating. I love the photos. I will share all with the family this week. Keep up the good work. Love, Bonnie

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