Sunday may 15th 2011
Today we woke groggy and cranky, not sleeping more than 2 hrs from all the partying in the streets was pretty rough on the 4 of us.
We had an apt. to be picked up at 8 am at the hotel for a rural clinic.
Dr. Victor Espenalda graciously picked us up, and carted us around for the day.... we met a group of physicians at the Hospital who were volunteering their Sunday to offer services to the rural village of La Esparilda.
We met Jose, Victor, His beautiful wife and their 3 year old son. Jose had a young son of about 21 who was also spending the day with us, luckily for us, Carlos spoke great English!! he was our translator by default for the remainder of the day.
We drove in a very nice Isuzu Trooper through the winding roads and villages on our way to the rural clinic.
When we finally arrived after about 2 hrs passing by banana plantations, rice fields, scrawny cows, and run down adobe homes... we found an unusual number of people crowded together under the trees, when we came to a stop, we asked "what are all these people here for? assuming it was a Sunday service or party....when our car came to a stop, we realized the throngs of people were waiting for us.
Over 75 people were waiting to be seen by the visiting physicians. The women of these villages had walked, drove and sacrificed to arrive at the school house with no water and no power. They had assembled exam rooms by hanging sheets from wires with clothes pins. offering privacy. they had one sheet per bed, and one drape for all of the patients.
They each got a number, and waited in the hot sun for hours for their number to be called.
They were seen by a physician, sent behind the curtain, given a pap smear and exam, the speculum were the same we use here in the US, however they take a glass slide, and use one slide for both tests. then they take that slide, wrap it up into a paper with all that individuals information and stack them with all the other 75 pap slides waiting to be taken back to the hospital for processing.
Then if they had complaints they received free prescription drugs.
These people were happy to have this service provided and were cheerful and happy to wait.
after we saw the 75+ women (as this was exclusively for womens care)
Sometime in the afternoon we were offered fresh fruit cut up and in styro containers.
Then in the later afternoon (we were starving) we were served DR cuisine, something like a corn meal ball with raisins and corn inside. Fried chicken, plantain and more fresh fruit.
We were invited to a beach, Puerto Plata with the physicians, we drove another 35 min to a beautiful, obviously LOCAL beach.... we were without a doubt the main attraction... the only White people around and being 4 White women we stood out like sore thumbs!!
We swam and enjoyed the Caribbean waters, the crazy traditions of these people, they drink pretty much non stop, and the boats are chartered for short trips into deeper water.
The drivers of these boats (sometimes they looked 14 years old) were SCAREY!!!
They almost ran over an elderly gentleman at one point, and were obstinate and rude when folks started shouting at them!
A group of rowdy 15-17 year old boys started gathering around the 3 ladies,Terri, Eve and Tracy, Tracy had enough and got out of the water, Poor Terri & eve were surrounded and being harassed, Carlos and I were a yard or so away chuckling at the torment, finally it escalated to the point they were uncomfortable and they called out to Carlos to come save them. He told the boys to scat....
We swam for a few minutes longer and were done, tired and hot we prepared to drive home.
Jose our host and Carlos his son were amazing, kind, honest, open and very generous, they stopped for us and helped us buy fresh fruit from the stand. Papaya, mango, Pineapple, Oranges, bananas,cantelope and a watermelon . It was a mighty good thing we stopped for this, as that is what we ate for the next 3 days.
We arrived back at our hotel around 6 pm, Maria, Lisa and Heather had arrived safely, although they had been delayed had been bumped on their flights, as they had stand by tickets, and were not to arrive for another 18 hrs.
We had a pow-wow and got some orientation on what to anticipate on the next day.
We were grilled that "when in Rome.... Do as the Romans do" and we retired to bed ready for
the challenge of a new day.