Time flies when you are having fun
Back with another couple days of news from the trip to Merida! The last week has been ridiculously busy, as will the next … and the next, and so on. Healthcare wise, we visited the public hospital in Merida called O’horan which serves patients that are under the seguro popular insurance branch. In other words this is a very over worked, not so moneyed public hospital that serves those whose healthcare is covered under the universal care implementation about a decade ago. Regardless, the Doctor who showed us the hospital took us through a very pristine pediatric oncology ward (of course his own), as well as the surgical, medical, and emergency wings. The entire hospital has a strange feeling of emptiness in some places, where others are overrun by people, both medical staff as well as patients and families. This is due to a couple large spaces within the hospital that are still not utilized at all, due to lack of funding (usually due to stolen money within the corrupt bureaucracy – this is what the staff told us), or construction setbacks. either way it was a great look into how the Mexican healthcare system has more recently melded to “officially” accept and assist the uninsured, a group of people that accounts for nearly 50% of the national population. I was interested in the professional roles among the staff – nurses here take a more old-fashioned role (complete with caps) in assisting, rather than being able to complete advanced practice with successive degrees. The medical students and interns are relied on for EVERYTHING, the residents usually oversee and the attending marginally supervises the residents. In this system, as the doctor told us, most students can come in with their lab coat and a coke for the resident or intern on shift and learn hands on how to do everything from suturing to delivering. Yes, this is a very generalized statement, but very true in the same right; the educational ethics of this system are a bit looser than those of the United States. I also discovered that I may be completing the second leg (week) of my internship within O’Horan … that is unless I dont extend the length of my first internship .. guess where?
I will be spending at least the first week of my internship in the rural health clinic (under the same seguro popular system) within the small seat of Dzoncuaich to the northwest of Merida. We visited this small town for one of our classes to view the clinic, its patient population, and treatment abilities. The doctor that is posted there, along with about 5 nurses, is named eddie and is completing his servicio social. Put briefly, this year is work chosen for you by the government based on your grades in medical school where you work for the betterment of the general public within your profession in exchange for an incredibly low tuition rate (about 200 US dollars a year). I love this idea, and I wish that the United States had a more widespread version of community service outside of punishment measures. The people within the village do speak spanish the majority of the time, although there are some that can only speak mayan. Another quest of mine would be to learn this beautiful and ancient language.
Outside of “healthy” activities, our group spent the weekend in the village of santa elena which is just outside of the ruins of Uxmal. I can’t describe the experience with words, however there will be lots of pictures to follow tomorrow explaining the trip in detail. The trip included a tour(/climb 😉 ) of the ruins, a visit to a still functioning hacienda, a swim in a cenote, and a visit with a mayan medicine man. We stayed at a small boutique hostel in the village of Santa Elena, and while most of the group slept I was able to venture through the town to take in a bit of my surroundings. Latin america, for those of you who have not been here displays poverty in a unique way to what we think of within the United States. Here there are huge beautiful houses next to mayan style palapas (house) with tar paper roofs that typically do not have cement or stone flooring. Yet, the integrity and strength of this people is incredible, and I think we as a society have a lot to learn from the victims.. such as this.
Returning to Merida, I spent the evening with a couple of friends watching a movie at the local movie theater/ movie club… really cool place (check it out on Facebook at Cairo Cine) where we saw Seven. This morning took an entirely different toll on my body. During the first week, the group discovered that there was a marathon that was going to be run within our time here in Merida. They also discovered that there was the possibility of making relay teams to ease the duration of the race into smaller pieces run by separate people. Long story short, I ran a 7K at 7:30 this morning (after getting up to be at the race at 330) for the first time in my life.I actually did pretty well if I do say so myself, and this also makes me want to run more of these races in the future. The race ended at the beach at Progresso, so we spent a little time there on the beach enjoying the party that ensued following the race before returning home for pizza and more partying for a friends birthday. I actually took a good 4-5 hours to myself this afternoon and I walked to el centro to really get to experience the Sunday activities. There was a city band playing with folk dancing and later open dancing (the open dancing was just amazing to watch the older people come out to dance in couples, and the music was great). I also took the time to sit in the Cathedral for part of the service and saw whom I assume to be the Arch Bishop of Merida? (Im not really sure how the catholic church is organized within this area, but I will take a shot in the dark). In the process of my wandering I found the contemporary art museum of Merida as another location to go see on one of these upcoming free days. I eventually wandered back to my current seat within the central house’s palapa, grabbing a dinner of elote, tamale con ragas, and a small pastry on the way (less than 3 US dollars altogether).
In all reality I actually had a pretty rough day in terms of moral. It may have had to do with the fact that I am running (literally) on 4 hours of sleep and no coffee or, in addition to that, my periodic frustration with my group. It all ended up working out, but Im glad that i was able to wander solo and work at least a little bit on speaking spanish with some of the shopkeepers, vendors, and people on the streets of merida. Im not overly concerned about everything, I have 4 weeks left to this trip in which I have to do a ton of work in a bunch of different directions. The planetary society, maybe the beginning to a book..?, a small grant application, studying the mayan and spanish culture, language, and history, as well as remembering to have a good-time along the way. Im glad that I can put this out there, writing always helps.
Until the next time – Hasta luego
“That is part of the beauty of all literature. You discover that your longings are universal longings, that you’re not lonely and isolated from anyone. You belong.”
― F. Scott Fitzgerald
Tristan Davis Fralick