Sunday, April 25, 2010



This is where i live: San Jose Calderas

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

catching up

so i have gotten a bit behind on the blog. since the last post i completed a week and a half of language studies in Xela. i learned a lot and i am really glad i decided to study a bit before my time with the midwife.
i was able to learn a bunch of grammatical skills that have allowed me to be a bit more articulate and have also helped my comprehension. i had a few opportunities to translate from texts and from oral presentations at the school. i was translating sections of Our Bodies, Our Selves for my teacher because she wanted to know more about menopausia :) it was a lot of fun and i made some great friends. Xela is a fun place full of so many luxuries of comfort such as raw milk yogurt, yoga, whole wheat bread, webcams, fresh peanut butter, used book stores and really great hot chocolate and coffee.
early morning April first i took a bus from Xela to Chimaltenango, Chimal to Antigua where i met up with Eulalia. Eulalia met me under a tree near the bus terminal in Antigua. i saw her walking up from a distance and new it had to be her. she is short in stature and rather thin with a long black braid down her back. she practices traditional dress of a long woven skirt with a colorful belt and a short sleeved emproidered top. her son Daniel and his children were waiting nearby in his red pick-up truck. we hopped in and headed to San Jose Calderas.
Calderas is about an hour to an hour and a half from Antigua and is only acessible from a bumpy dirt road full of stones and sand dunes....ok, im exaggerating, but it is impossible to travel either way without traveling most of the way in a dust cloud and consistently bouncing at least 5 inches from your seat.
fast forwarding a bit... i have settled in quite nicely here. i have a room of my own on a piece of land shared with Eulalia and three of her sons. They each have three children from ages 2-14. The kids have been my most faithful friends, always ready to play a game with me or have a tickle fight.
Eulalia has her own kitchen. it is a small block building with a gas stove and also an open fire; the best of both worlds. she is a great cook and loves coffee as much as i do. every afternoon at about 4 pm she looks at me and smiles and says "tengo ganas de tomar cafe." she says is is like medicine to her. im not sure if she means because she is addicted or because of its medicinal qualities. i think it is for the later because i hear her recommend coffee for a multitude of enfermidades. i have been offically accepted as a tortilla maker. i was schooled in hand made torilla craftswomanship last week and on saturday i helped 20 or so other woman in the community make hundred of them for a wedding. according to them, as soon as i learn to wash clothes better, i can marry. (they think i use too little soap but i disagree)
Eulalia is the town nurse, curendera, midwife and most anything else people need. she is pretty impressive for a 70 something year old who has had 10 children, lost two and a husband to the violence and has been catching babies for over 40 years. we get along quite well and i have been christened with the name raquelita, or mi raquelita according to abraham (the three year old grandson).
on thursday i complete two weeks here and i have already caught two babies with eulalia, felt numerous bellies of expecting mothers and listened to many tiny heartbeats. i am so grateful for the hands-on approach she is allowing me to take. i get to cut cords, clean and weigh babies, inspect placentas and all that good stuff.
most recently i came down really sick really fast. on sunday we attended a birth and i wasn't feeling so great. we came home and i went to lay down and started getting chills and a fever. the fever lasted for several hours followed by extreme diarrea. by 1am eulalia suggested we go to the hospital. she called a friend in the community with a car and he took us to the public hospital in antigua. i got hooked with the my first IV to recieve anitbiotics and fluids. apparently i was severely dishidratada. they kept me for about 5 hours and sent me home with the guatemalan equivalent of pedialite and some antibiotics.
i feel 95 percent better a day later and i am so very grateful for the existence of antibioticos and free public medical care. it amazes me that in countries that don't even offer public education past middle school still recognize the importance of public medicine. i don't even want to imagine how much i would have paid if i had gone to the ER in the states.
alright, that's enough for now but i may be back to antigua on sunday and promise another post soon. excuse my spelling errors my mind keeps getting stuck between spanish and english spellings and things come out in an interesting mixture. maybe that's a good sign?
love and blessing to each of you.