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Thursday, October 27, 2011

Soccer at 11,000 feet

Here is a little life skill that I never picked up and do I ever regret it now. It wouldn’t even be so bad if I could at least keep up with everyone else. It might be the altitude or the fact that I’m grossly out of shape and haven’t been able to run much because of my bum knee, but I suck. At least I have people to play with. I started playing a weekly game with Spanish teachers from a few schools. The first week I played 3 v 3 on a court about the size of an NBA court. I was out of breath in about 15 minutes and about 30 minutes, I was pretty much squatting down every couple of minutes. I had about 5 opportunities to score and blew them all.

I just came back from my second today. I played ok for the first 20 minutes on a smaller court. The turning point, though, was when jostling for a ball, I accidentally launched it about 30 feet out of bounds. This is the best part, turns out it landed inside a police station. Furthermore, it landed in a  kennel! I had the unfortunate duty to ask the policeman to help me find the soccer ball. Kennels are scary. Good thing the doggies were behind bars, but remind me never to piss off a police dog. Apparently the police thought it was so funny that a gringo lost the soccer ball. Apparently the dogs like the flavor of foreigners. Thanks. Asshole. I blew a couple of good opportunities to score and pretty much was relegated to goalie by the end. Suck suck suck. Oh well, I’ll keep at it, and hopefully I’ll hold my own. At least I am having fun sucking. Maybe Kate also enjoys her evening without my harassment.   

Clinica disastro

So after five weeks of trying to find our place in the clinic, Nansen and I have given up. I think there is some degree of cultural differences at play, and I think the clinic is just not ready to handle having volunteers right now.
One of the nurses and the administrator at the clinic had come up with this idea to do home visits in the community. Now this seems like a great idea. I've read and seen lots of things in the states talking about the growing need for home visits. Not only are the important for patients who are older, immobile, or terminal; but studies have shown that it can actually save money. Patients don't have to pay for transportation to hospitals when things get too bad, but can find ways to manage their health care at home. The neighborhood the clinic serves is low income, so this seems like a perfect project. People who can't get to the hospital on their own and may not be able to pay for help getting there.
We made our own forms for this project, as the clinic didn't really have any. Our forms were designed to assess the health status of every member of the family- functional, nutrition, hygiene, mental status, and physical health. Then there were additional pages for complete histories and physicals for each member as needed. We also have forms to formally assess for caregiver burnout, dementia, depression, etc.
Unfortunately the clinic does not seem to have the staff or the scheduling to support this project. Despite repeated attempts to go out with nurses or on our own, things have fallen through time and time again. I believe its time to move on to another project.
We have contacts at both the public hospitals in Cusco- Antonia Lorena and Regional- and hopefully will be able to start volunteering there as early as next week. Either should be a very interesting experience as to how hospitals run in another country, what diseases are seen, and how they are treated. I'm sad that things have been going so poorly at the clinic, but there are still lots of exciting possibility on the horizon.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Llama vs Nansen

I’ve always heard that llamas were mean animals. But how can that be? They are so cute with their shaggy fur and dumb looking eyes. One Friday morning, instead of sitting in class, my Spanish teacher Ricardo, took Kate, Cara (another student), and I on a field trip to the university. The first stop was the university zoo. Now this is no ordinary zoo. In fact, this might have been the most animated zoo I’ve ever been to. It shelters wild animals while they recover from various ailments, then return them to the wild. It’s the only zoo where I’ve been handed a toucan, turtles come in wheelbarrows, and the monkeys show you their…manhood.  

Anyways, there were llamas roaming the premises as well. One in particular was having an especially active morning. It picked on Ricardo first, attempting to bite him. Cusquenos, apparently, have experience with fending off llamas. He even put the llama in a headlock. After a bit of a struggle the llama went away. It came back a minute later, though, this time to try to eat Cara’s hair. Again Ricardo fended him away. I was next on the target list. The llama stopped a few feet in front of me and stared at me with those silly eyes. Like a dumb gringo, I put on a fighting stance with a dumb smile. The llama was not amused. It had had it with dumb gringos. It struck. It went on its hind foot, which made it seem about 7 ft tall, and proceeded to chase me down. When I decided I couldn’t outrun the llama, I turned to fend it off. Luckily for me, the llama’s charge was more fierce than its attack. All it tried to do was to extend its silly neck and try to bite me with its flat molars. It was easy for me to fend it off with my one semester of college Jeet Kun Do (intercepting fists!). I walked away but the llama followed me. After a few more rounds of this exchange, Ricardo came to the rescue. He grabbed its lease and tied it to a garbage can. Llama maiming averted!       

In summary: Ricardo tames llama, and llama tames Nansen.
Oh yea, and when I got home, Kate thought it would be funny to surprise me with a stuffed llama. I was safe though, it was tied to a Pringles can. Hooray!