After nine hours of flying, a night in Lima, and a 21 hour bus ride, Mallory and I made it to Cusco! (´´Cuscoooo!``). We met up with the rest of our traveling buddies, and my fellow volunteer nurses and I started orientation at the Maximo Nivel office and moved into the San Pedro Family House. There are 16 volunteers living in the house together, along with our wonderful house staff. I feel pretty spoiled having meals cooked for us and being cleaned up after. Hopefully I won´t get too used to this.
The four of us nurses are split up into two different clinics. Whitney and Helena are at a clinic in central Cusco. Shelby and I are at a clinic in Santa Rosa, just outside of Cusco. We commute via combi, which is a public transporation van in which we can cram about 25 passengers, for about 30 minutes for 60 centimos (a quarter in US currency) each way. Not too shabby.
Day 1 at the clinic (as the title says): BABIES! Lots and lots of infants and toddlers. Our clinic, el Centro de Salud Santa Rosa, provides urgent medical care, well-baby and well-child check ups, vaccinations, lab tests, and primary care education for impoverished and uninsured local Peruvians. For those who have worked with us, y´all know we have been working for two years in the hospital, caring for cardiac patients who are mostly older adults. No babies or children. In the past I have freaked out when once in a blue moon I receive a random patient who is a teenager. Obviously this is a big change for me. I´m pretty excited about it, though because it will be a new nursing experience. Plus, babies are really cute.
The clinic is small and government-funded, run completely by volunteer doctors, nurses, pharmacists and aids. It is also completely Spanish-speaking. Nobody speaks a lick of English. Another new experience for me. In the past I have been able to get through a 12 hour shift with my broken spanish and a couple key sentences, ´´Soy tu infirmera por la noche´´, ´´Tienes dolore?``, ``Quieres medicina para dolore?``. Needless to say, I have a lot of Spanish to learn. Working at the clinic and taking Spanish courses monday through friday, hopefully I´ll be at an intermediate speaking level after my six month volunteer commitment is finished.
After 4 days in Cusco, I am loving it. Plus, I´m average height here! What a first! It is a beautifully historic city and it´s small enough for us to walk everywhere we want to go. Our fellow volunteers/housemates are pretty awesome and the locals are friendly.
Stay tuned. I promise not to blog only about boring nursing stuff. I intend to have plenty of traveling adventures.