Santa Cruz is the destination for our last clinic day. It was a day of ups and downs for us. As we set out to meet the people of Santa Cruz it was a mix of paved roads, cobblestone roads, dirt roads, and mud holes. Up and down in the back of the stock truck. Again, we were dodging branches. Just to add some excitement, we hit a nest in one branch full of insects that appeared like flies but were sticky and got stuck in hair and clothes where they would bite. Braids were soon little fly nests.
We were greeted by friendly smiles when we arrived at the gates of the community center in Santa Cruz. All pitch in to get the clinic set up. Up go the ropes and sheets to divide to large rooms into 6 provider rooms. The pharmacy gets organized and the vitals station gets set up. We are ready for business. We see all ages. Many have headaches and backaches from the hard-physical labor in the hot environment with little safe water. Others have diabetes, high blood pressure, blindness, eye irritation, and skin irritation. There are not many people over 65.
We had a trek up a dirt path, across a soccer field and to a home of one of the community leaders. Cecilia, a member of the pastoral team, made sure that we had a filling lunch of pasta salad, fruit and seasoned loose hamburger meat. The home had a new water filtration system with a 5-gallon bucket with a filter at the end of the hose about the size of a toilet paper roll. This is how they filter water to drink and cook. Then back down to finish attending to patients.
Clinic was soon completed and we said our goodbyes. We were excited that it was our last day of clinic, but sad that we will not see our El Salvadoran communities tomorrow. Up and downs the rough roads and back to the pastoral house. We were soon in a new change of clothes and back in the back of the Kia truck to go up the mountain. Allegria is a tourist town where we enjoyed good friends and teammates, a great supper, and many goodbyes to out translators. Then back down the mountain. We are heading out of Berlin at 2:30 am for our journey home.
Stacey K. Neu MD