I’m back! ; ¡He vuelto!
Wow! Let me start off by saying that week 2 passed by even faster than week 1!
My schedule every Monday-Friday includes class from 8:30 am-10:30 am (Medical Spanish), and from 1:00 pm-3:00 pm (Intro to Public Health in the Yucatan). Every Tuesday during the break we have between classes my group and I are taken to local health centers (public and private hospitals and clinics) to tour the facility or to visit and discuss with doctors. Wednesdays during our noon break we do a cultural activity with local students that include visiting museums, the local “mercado”, and cooking classes.
Saturdays and Sundays are always busy and planned by our program organizer. Every Saturday starts at 8:00 am and involves traveling to a rural community to explore different types of local medicine. So far, we have been able to meet with two different “herbólogos” that use plants and fruits to cure and aid people. We have also had the opportunity to meet with a “partera” or midwife. She told us all about her work and how she believes she is able to preform the work because, “es un don” meaning “it’s a gift/blessing/talent.” Saturday nights are spent in houses in the rural communities with no AC, outdoor bathrooms, and many insects. My group-mates and I have learned to adapt to these night by now. We learned to sleep with the windows and doors open if there are screens to keep the bugs out, to wear loose, cotton pants during the day, to pack on the bug spray and sunscreen, and to drink lots of water. One of the most interesting parts of the program is that during the nights that we spend in these rural communities we have to sleep in hammocks (generously provided by our host mothers <3). No one in these rural communities sleeps on beds because of the heat. Hammocks offer a cool, comfortable, and low maintenance substitute. Sundays we spend visiting ancient Mayan ruins and archaeological sites such as Uxmal and Chichen Itza.
Everyday I feel as though I not only learn more about the region and the people, but that I understand more and am able to see through a different perspective. The people of this area, particularly the rural communities, are genuinely good, hard working people that are willing to completely open up and welcome us into their lives and communities. Although the level of poverty that we see in these communities is very high, the citizen do not sit and feel sorry for themselves, they work and strive to create a living for their families. Additionally, they do not see this poverty as a disadvantage, but as a result of living in a manner that preserves the culture and traditions of their decreasing population.
This is it for week 2’s blog but stay tuned for week 3 because it will cover the 4 day trip we take to Cuba during the later half of this upcoming week!