Somehow, even though I’ve only been here for a few days, I feel like I’ve been here for months. I’m not sure that’s necessarily either good or bad. These past few days have been all about adjusting. I haven’t really seen any of the city, besides anything on the way to/from Maximo Nivel and the bus terminal. I’m sure I’ll get out to do some more exploring this weekend, but I’ve been too exhausted to do anything this week. Also, I don’t really have any solid friends at this point with whom I can go on adventures. We’re getting 4 new people in the house this weekend, so hopefully I’ll find someone there 🙂
I’ve fallen into a routine here. My day starts at 6:30 am…I wake up, get changed into my scrubs, and go eat breakfast with our host mom and all the other volunteers. Then, at about 7:15, I head to the bus terminal, where I get a chicken bus. 20 minutes later, I’m at the clinic. The clinic opens at 8 – which at home would mean that people are starting to set it up at at least 7:30. Here, patients and staff alike are all let in at 8, which means that patients aren’t seen til at least 20 minutes later.
The nurses at the clinic are really nice. Over the past couple of days I’ve tried to show them that I really am eager to learn and help out however I can. For instance – I had watched the process for immunizations during my first day, and it seemed pretty simple, so when there were a few people lined up but the nurse was eating lunch, I went ahead and weighed them etc. and dealt with all the preliminary paperwork. When the nurse came in I told her what I had done and she seemed impressed. It wasn’t much, but I think it was enough to show her that I’m serious about what I’m doing there. It really helps that I can speak enough spanish to express myself fairly clearly!!
Today I talked to another of the nurses and explained more fully what my education was up to this point, what I want to do and that I really want to learn. So for the rest of the morning she went out of her way to come get me to explain things and teach me new things. The big two things today were: taking manual blood pressure, and giving shots. I knew the theory behind taking blood pressure already, but had never done it. But I did it on my first try today!! Then, I gave 3 shots of depo-provera (contraceptive). The nurse showed me ONCE how to do it, then goes – “okay. next time you have to do it”. I was so nervous. It is way harder to pierce the skin than I expected and to push in the liquid. Afterwards she asked if I was nervous and I told her yes – she just laughed at me! haha. But by the second and third time I really had the hang of it. Not sure I’d be willing to give any shots to kids at this point though, because they’re so squirmy!!
I leave the clinic at noon, and by 12:45 I’m back at my host house for lunch. I have to say I definitely do NOT feel cheated when it comes to food. I had been afraid, prior to coming, that I would be hungry, but food in our house is good and plentiful!! After lunch I generally take a half hour nap. You have to walk everywhere in Antigua, and even though the city isn’t very big, I’m not used to walking that much, so I’m finding myself really tired! Hopefully that will wear off as I get more accustomed to life here.
Starting today, at 2, I have “tandem conversation classes” – basically, they pair you up with a Guatemalan (Maximo Nivel also gives English lessons for Guatemalans) to talk in English and Spanish. This is free. My partner is a 20 year old Antigua-native named Alex. His English is really good, and he seems like a nice guy. I got some info from him on what is good for nightlife, so hopefully I’ll be able to check something out this weekend.
Then, at 3, I have a private spanish class. I only signed up for 1 week of this, and I think next week I’ll ask to be in a group intermediate class. I’m doing pre-intermediate right now but I’m not finding it quite challenging enough. Plus, I really want to meet more people.
We eat dinner at the house around 6 or 7, and by the end of it, we’re all about ready for bed. For the past couple of nights, a few of us have actually drank coffee after dinner to stay up for a bit longer! We’ve stayed up for a couple of hours talking about all kinds of stuff…a lot yesterday about our various medical systems (they’re from the states) and such, since two of them are med students and that’s obviously my interest. Nicole, whose in her 30s, works with a community organization in Florida who work with high school kids on diversity and acceptance. Some of what they do sounds super cool, and I feel like we desperately need such programs in Canada!! Maybe I’ll get some ideas off of her and start something? Who knows…
I go to bed at about 10…I know. So early. But I can’t get up in the morning otherwise! I feel like an old lady – up early, nap in the afternoon, bed early. oh well. What you gonna do?
For this weekend I’m looking forward to exploring Antigua and hopefully experiencing some nightlife. If I don’t have anyone to go with, I may just go alone to the tourist bar and make some friends. I really need people to travel with on weekends etc! Also, there’s a dental student, whose 23, at the clinic I volunteer at. She’s super friendly and came and introduced herself etc. I hope we have more opportunity to talk, and maybe become friends 🙂
All in all – week 1 is going well, and I’m super glad I’m here. I was such a stress case before I left, I feel like a huge weight has been lifted off my shoulders. I’m not sure I’ve quite found my “Guatemalan self” yet, but I’m sure I’ll be finding it in the weeks to come!