This week has been full of new things. On Monday we started our Spanish medical vocabulary for an hour at the end of our other classes. We were supposed to have a lecture on Peruvian health at 9am but the doctor couldn’t come until later so we still showed up at 9am and had 3 hours to kill. We went to the Inca museo which is a very interesting meuseum and not on the bolleto turistico (the standard ticket for some of the main tourist attractions in Cusco).
The museum gives an in-depth history of the tools the Incas used as well as an in-depth picture history of Peru through the past 3,000 years. We returned to school and eventually had the talk with the doctor who told us about the Peruvian health system and we did some comparisons to the States. However with the change in time it took longer than expected and we didn’t make it back to our houses for lunch. Later on Monday evening we tried the Peruvian discotechas which were definitely an interesting and fun experience.
On Tuesday in the morning we went to a shaman, which is a traditional health doctor who uses some ancient techniques to try to cure people. I was the only one that got to watch the entire ceremony with the shaman and the girl who was sick so I was very lucky. The shaman is a famous doctor all around the world for his techniques. The girl that was there had been in the hospital for 2 months in the States and nobody knew what was wrong.
The ceremony started with the girl rubbing special candlesticks all over her body to wipe around the bad energies. Then she took many concoctions of coca leaves, llama fat and a flower together and rubbed it over her entire body to also rid the bad energies. The shaman said something over each leaf and placed them in a very specific orientation. In between he talked to me and made some jokes. He had traveled to 48 of the states and over many other places. On top of the leaf concoction, he placed many different types of herbs and some alpaca wool colored in the colors of the Inca rainbow and tied everything up with more alpaca yarn, so everything was all natural. Then the girl got into a bin of hot water and some other things and they sang a few songs and he poured water over her and chanted with the package of leaves from earlier. At the end he rubbed a black cuy (guinea pig) over her so the cuy could catch any of the bad energies. It was an incredible experience to watch and I was so lucky that I was the only one lucky enough to see it.
Later he read people’s coca leaves and in many cases knew a lot of information about them already and made predictions based on the coca leaves for their futures. Unfortunately this also ran late so I didn’t have time for lunch so we tried some Chinese place. Let me tell you, Chinese food in English is hard enough to understand, Chinese in Spanish is very hard! But it worked out okay.
Early Wednesday morning my Canadian housemates left to return home. They were great housemates so it was sad to see them go. This was also my first day at the hospital. The clinic is for the very poor people and there are many differences, especially in the practice of cleanliness and sterile environments. I worked in the pharmacy while the other two worked in the triage office and in the dentist’s office. We all wore masks as the precautions for swine flu or gripe porcina as they call it here. Later that night we went to watch traditional dances of Peru. It was interesting but very touristy. We went and got a large cup of coca tea before heading home to get some rest.
I just heard from my phone company (Verizon) that I can’t receive or send texts in Peru, so I bought a phone card for 5 soles for 50 minutes to the US which is a great deal. I’ve been trying to use skype most of the time but the microphones don’t always work or the computers don’t have skype but for the most part it has all worked out all right.
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