Weekend Trip: Huacachina

Guest Post by: Alex
Jess and I had originally planned to stay in Miraflores on the coast in Lima for Christmas weekend since we had already taken our major trip before starting CCS, but also didn’t want to be in the house for the holidays. Once we got to CCS we learned that people were planning trips for that weekend so we decided to be social and change our coastal vacation to New Years and join the group. About half the group were thinking about going to Nazca for sand boarding on the largest sand dune in the world. After looking into it further we found out that the bus ride is 8 hours (flights are expensive so that was vetoed). Jess being Jess starting looking and found Huacachina just outside of Ica, which is about 4 hours south of Lima. Huacachina is actually known for their sand boarding on the dunes versus Nazca, which is more known for the Nazca lines. Turns out that Huacachina is an oasis town of about ~100-200 people that used to be a destination for the Lima elite around the turn of the century, but the government has recently abandoned it and it has now become known for its sand boarding and partying. The town has two streets and is centered around a lagoon and then completely surrounded by huge sand dunes. We wanted to go there for the sand boarding and relaxing, which was good because since it’s low season there wasn’t much of a party scene at all.

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Week 1 CCS.

The first week of placement ends today (nothing is open for the holidays), and so far, so good! I got to spend yesterday with Alex at the clinic, by request, curious to see how it differed from the Tanzanian variety. Aside from being much cleaner and the staff much friendlier, it had a very familiar “this is NOT America” feel. Many of the basic supplies are  made by hand, there are far too many patients for nurses/doctors, and in general they “make do” with what they have. Despite the less then western ideals, the women I met seemed more than happy to be at work and emulated a very welcoming feeling I only felt rarely in Tanzania. I am constantly surprised here by how starkly different, yet pointedly the same it is (compared to Africa). Developing country, class division, lack of government aid. Again, reminded how the majority of the world functions, in seemingly complete chaos that finds a way to create massive infrastructure and the people, ever more impoverished have again proved to be some of the most giving, generous and warm people you could ever hope to meet.  It is what I love about these countries, it’s what makes being in America so hard. Both Alex and I struggle to drive past the rows and rows of Beverly Hills mansions, not only because its a gross waste of resources (no one NEEDS eight bedrooms for three people…), but when you meet many of them, instead of being happy, or welcoming (or grateful), they are the opposite. Yet these women who live on nearly nothing run up to hug you when you meet them, genuinely thrilled to spend the day with you. It’s difficult to reconcile, and while certainly not the absolute it is an unfortunate “usual.” I suppose, at the least, I feel quite fortunate to be around these people, and can only hope to adopt a bit of their warmness and generosity.

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CCS Placement: Centro de Salud San Martin de Porras

My placement is at a local clinic in Villa el Salvador, which is a not-so-great area on the outskirts of Peru. It’s basically on a sand dune; seriously the road is not only not paved, but also is sand…not even gravel. It’s a Catholic church funded clinic (which made an awkward situation when I said I wasn’t Catholic and that my belief in god was complicated) and focuses mainly on local residents. They usually see respiratory illnesses due to Lima’s, and especially in Villa el Salvador, bacterial infections, and other general practice issues. They also have a laboratory, which I haven’t exactly figured out what tests they can do except for LDL, cholesterol, and glucose levels in the blood along with some microscopic examinations. No one speaks english so most of the conversations are extremely short.

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CCS Day 1.

We arrived safely to CCS yesterday and headed to the house, since we arrived nearly first we unpacked and headed to Barranco (near the coast), for churros and the coast (which is absolutely beautiful-see pictures!!!). There are 24 of us, it’s a HUGE group and a bit overwhelming. Everyone seems to want to do everything together and aside from a few of us have formed a gigantic group that goes everywhere together. Luckily there’s a small group of us who aren’t as into the huge group thing, and have so far got along really well.

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