To honor the most American holiday of the year (besides the Superbowl and Thanksgiving), the clinic is closed today! I completed the first half of the academics for my SCUBA certification this morning. Now the volunteers and I are off to French Key for the day and French Harbor for dinner and karaoke. Should be a blast! I will be posting lots of photos from the July 4th adventure soon. For now, here’s a pic of Maia and me sharing a plain-looking, but magnificent-tasting, Monkey La La (the official drink of the island!):
Yesterday was a pleasantly peculiar day–the sky was overcast all day, and a fresh ocean breeze continuously rustled the palm fronds. I emerged from a long, busy Monday shift at the clinic to find the air cool and refreshing. After some much-needed relaxation, Jenna, Maia, Dee, and I went on a kayak adventure. We paddled west along the coast, passing through the narrow channels separating Roatán from two small islands. Anthony’s Key, a spectacular resort up the road from the clinic, sits on the beach property in this area and has about twenty guest cabins on stilts in the shallows of these islands. The resort also has a series of large enclosures in the second channel where they keep dolphins. I could hear their trills when I stuck me head under water! The pod performs shows here and swims with guests.
The sun was just about setting when we headed out. By the time we traversed the first channel, a nearly-full moon shimmered on the water and illuminated the scenery surrounding us. It was the most picturesque twilight scene I’ve ever experienced. I felt a complete sense of contentment, even after Dee playfully capsized Jenna’s and my kayak twice! With the busy schedule, challenging roles in the clinic, adjustment to living in a new place, sweltering humidity, and missing my wonderful boyfriend, family, and friends, my past two weeks have been a bit taxing. I finally feel settled and secure here, and can’t wait to show this amazing place to my parents in late July and Cam in August!
After dinner last night, the cool weather fulfilled its promise of rain: it poured down for hours last night! It was magnificent. This was the first tropical drench I’ve witnessed here. The freshness it brought made for some very comfortable snoozing!
My role in the clinic has shifted: I now shadow and interpret for providers. These past two days I worked with Ginger, a very sweet nurse practitioner from the states, who speaks very little Spanish. Back in the US, she specializes in OBGYN care, so we got to do lots of prenatal visits and routine reproductive care. I used a Doppler instrument for the first time to magnify the fetal heartbeat, which was very exciting! Two of the patients I saw satisfy the requirements for giving birth at the clinic–the birth must be at least the mother’s second delivery and must not show any signs of a complication–and both plan to deliver here. I hope so much that I get to witness a birth during my time here!
I have loved getting to use my Spanish, both medical and coloquial, every day here. I feel so comfortable! And so appreciated by my patients. The people here are so friendly and welcoming, always exchanging an “Hola” or “Buenos días” with me when we pass in the street. I hope to come out of this experience with some new Honduran expressions…hopefully a local “pura vida” equivalent!
The tail end of this past weekend was quite eventful. Sunday began with some long-awaited internet time–finally the connection was fast! Next, the group headed to Rudy’s, a cafe on the outskirts of West End, that is famous for its fruit smoothies and banana pancakes. Of course, Michelle and I had to try both, so we split an order of cakes and a mango-coconut smoothie. It was incredible! Being the serial food-mixer that I am, I drenched my pancake with the melty part of the smoothie. It was like the most vibrant fruit syrup ever, except cold and fresh! I got some strange looks, but thoroughly enjoyed the combo.
Next, we took a water taxi to West Bay. What a ride! Here are some photos of the lovely scenary and beautiful company:
I spent the rest of the day in the best possible ways: cheering on the Spanish National Team to victory in the Euro Cup Finals, chatting online with Cam, snorkeling, and playing beach volleyball. Although the internet connection was bad, and the Clínica Esperanza Lightening got trounced many times, I had a lovely day! To top it off, we all headed to Smugglers, a fabulous restaurant on the Western point of the island. After a nearly-eternal wait (“island time”), we gobbled down the restaurant’s famous Lobster Nachos. They came in deep casserole dishes piled high with cheese, veggies, chips, and succulent crustacean, each of which we split between four people.
What a day! I hope to repeat all of these activities with my visiters, my parents this month and Cam in August!
This morning, Michelle, Jenna, Megan, and I walked about a mile down the beach to my now-favorite snorkeling spot. After a five-minute swim out from shore, we reached a huge expanse of coral formations. Channels ranging in depth from five feet to a foot cut through ridges of coral that barely poked out of the water. It was a true underwater labyrinth! Navigating through the maze was so fun—sometimes I would suck in my tummy and barely be able to propel myself through a shallow, narrow spot by waving my hands back and forth. The water clarity was fantastic, and there were tons of fish I hadn’t seen before. I especially liked seeing a collection of about fifteen fish of different species that were all miniature versions of bigger ones I see regularly—it was like a diverse elementary school!! (heehee pun intended)
Yesterday was quite the extravaganza. After clinic, Michelle and I cooked up a lunch feast: she made yucca and onion fries, which were amazing, and I made a green salad. Most satisfying home-cooked meal yet! We were very proud of ourselves. Later that afternoon, five of us drove to Coxen Hole to go grocery shopping. I was so happy to find my favorite cereal, Kashi Crunch with Honey and Almonds! Although I had to shell out 120 lempiras ($6)…worth it. Michelle and I stocked up on some lovely looking produce—grapes, zucchini, tomatoes, peppers, garlic, melon, kiwi—that we’re excited to cook into more delish concoctions this week.
For dinner last night, we hosted a Taco Night Potluck. We made two salsas, mango and pico de gallo, and sautéed peppers and onions. Others brought guacamole, coconut beans and rice, chicken, beef, fried fish, lettuce, and cheese. The finishing touch was mojitos and piña coladas. Quite the production! Everything was delicious.
Here’s a photo of this lil guy that has been filling in for Pippa:
It’s ridiculously hot and humid today. I woke up sweating and haven’t stopped since. Even inside the clinic, which has air conditioning!
In the last 24 hours, I’ve seen some crazy animals. Yesterday afternoon, I went snorkeling kind of by myself–there were other people out in the water, but I don’t know them well. My fellow volunteer Rachel was hanging out on the dock a few hundred yards away. Like usual, I swam out past the long rock that sticks out of the water. The best snorkeling is right on the other side of this rock, along the bench of coral that hangs over a steep drop in the ocean floor. I puttered along slowly past the rock, enjoying the brilliant colors of the fish and coral below me. I looked up to check how much farther I had to go before reaching the beginning of the stretch of deep blue. Right in front of me, about 10 feet away, hanging a foot below the surface, was the sleekest, shiniest fish I’ve ever seen. A barracuda!! It’s body angled away from me, so I had trouble gauging it’s length. It seemed about five inches thick. Anyway, I didn’t give myself much time to judge it’s size–I immediately turned around and sprint-swam away from that spot. I didn’t even look back to see if it followed.
Later that afternoon, I heard from a local that the big barracuda–longer than four feet and thicker across than the one I had seen–are the dangerous ones. Apparently, the small ones generally do not chase or attack humans. The guy told me that barracuda are very territorial. One chased him all the way back in to the beach a week ago at this same spot. Eek! I’m a bit nervous to go back out, but the plan is to go out today with Michelle. I’ll keep you updated!
Today, I saw a mini dinosaur. I swear, it must be a relative of a those skinny, vicious ones from Jurassic Park! Basically, it was a foot-long lizard with a sharp, inch-long crest on its neck and head. So cool! It was gripping the trunk of a small tree next to the clinic. I’m bummed the photos I snapped of it didn’t turn out great. Here’s one anyway.
As per request, here are some photos of the condo and our view of the ocean. So lovely!
Today I woke up shivering. Shivering! I couldn’t believe it. When I went outside, I was astonished to feel a cool breeze and see white caps out in the ocean! The water is generally glassy and flat, reflecting the sweltering sunlight by 6:30 AM.
The coolness persisted through the 2-minute walk to the clinic (see photos of my commute below). My work day began as usual: a slow start in the pharmacy as the providers arrived and saw their first patients. Around the time when we all get hungry, 11:00 AM or so, the banana donut guy was nowhere to be found. Another exciting event distracted me from this bummer–Michelle taught me how to give injections! First, I administered a 3ml injection of diclofenac, a pain medication, in the poor patient’s hiney. Even though this shot usually stings a bit, she told me she didn’t feel a thing! My second injection, 1 ml vitamin B12 into another patient’s upper arm, went just as well. So exciting!
Tonight is Trivia Night at one of the resorts by Infinity Bay. Let’s hope they go easy on the Sports questions!
Internet access has been spotty lately. Here is the post I wrote yesterday but couldn’t publish until today:
Today was quite the shock after the relaxation and luxuries of Sunday. Yesterday, after sleeping in until 8:30 (so late!), all of the volunteers, Miss Peggy, and Dee headed up to Infinity Bay Resort. I spent the entire day by the pool, on the beach, or in the water. It was fantastic!
My third shift in the clinic today was hectic. Tuan, my fellow pharmacist, and I scrambled around the pharmacy frantically, barely keeping up with the prescriptions flooding in. All in all, I think our hard work paid off—we managed to catch and fix a couple mistakes and didn’t make many ourselves. My experiences today clarified a few questions I had about the pharmacy protocol, which should help to make my next shifts go more smoothly.
Tonight, I finally tried iguana. I decided that reptiles are basically fish, so I’m not violating my pesquetarianism. =D Let’s just say that it was interesting…I don’t think I ever need to try reptile again. Here are some photos—it kind of pains me to post them…
My first weekend on the island is off to a brilliant start! In the morning (at 8 AM…my only complaint of the day) the volunteer crew headed east on foot and by kayak. We stopped at Spooky Channel, a snorkeling site known for its (supposedly) 90 feet deep trench that cuts through the reef starting about 150 yards offshore. Despite having to dodge the little, clear jellyfish that floated around the surface, we spied tons of cool critters. My favorite was a long, thick, orange
worm with protrusions that look like little broccoli florets all along its length. Next, we swam almost a mile east to another spot. The reef there was in the shallows–at times my tummy would graze the reeds and my back would be out of the water–and there were tons of fish. I saw two cuddle fish and a whopper that we haven’t identified yet. It barely had lateral fins and swam by waving its dorsal and ventral fins. It looked like a blue-grey, skinny sun fish. Pretty cool!
After all that swimming and the walk on the beach back home, we were famished. Michelle and I hosted the rest of the volunteers for brunch, with french toast, pancakes, omelets, and lots of coffee. Yum! It’s been a lovely, adventurous, and relaxing day.
Tonight, we’re off to a restaurant that serves iguana. Is that vegetarian??
Hello, everyone! I’m glad you have managed to stumble upon this newborn blog. I hope to update frequently!
My first full day on the island has been lovely. In the clinic this morning, I received a tour and got to chat about my project. Looks like I will get to apply my interest and experience in family planning methods! Probably in the form of an addition to the current prenatal class curriculum. After some chatting and tasting of my first island delicacy, the banana donut, I got down to work with the volunteers in the pharmacy. We filled orders coming from the providers, counted lots of pills, and began taking inventory of the entire pharmacy’s contents. The work was enjoyable, and the company was super fun! I’m having a great time getting to know all of the other volunteers.
After a pretty long work day (7:30-4:30) we got some food at a local tienda and then went snorkeling! It was awesome. The water clarify was poor until we swam out about 100 yards. Then the reef appeared! My favorite sitings included a bunch of granddaddy lobster with shells so encrusted with plants and barnacles that you could barely see their bright red coloring. Also, I saw these little toby-like fishies that had pale tummies and brilliantly neon patterns around their “waists” and eyes! So cute.
In two minutes, the volunteers and I are heading up to West Bay for some dinner and karaoke, so I had better run. Pardon any typos!