04 January 2001
Meeting with the Procuratduria para la defensa de lose derechos humanos (the ombudsman for human rights). He said we were all angels and promised the support of his office if we should ever need help getting into the country. Quel surprise! It appears at least he recognises that our mission is above politics.
CENIDH: The press are here.
It's a wild interview--Ed gets asked some pointed questions by the journalists; about abortion, what we want the the gov't to do, whether Clinton knew about the sudden nationalist streak (Ed: I haven't asked him.), where we were going...
Wild times. Crazy times. I've never been in the middle of an international incident before. Health care is a political issue here...we as a medical delegation have to try hard to stay politically neutral.
(There's a drawing here, not much of one, a sketch)
and a lake like crumpled steel, flat and grey - still like a blackened reflection of the blackness of the mountain, only a glimmer of the blue of a bright and clouded sky. Granada.
A young girl - 12, perhaps, with the slight pudge of the well-fed, dressed in a brief tight top and short skirt, lips rouged, eyes blue and violet, slanted, almond-shaped. Her breasts are young, her hips still straight. She and her two compatriots, wild young girls with their long black hair caught back by nets, black and beaded, in skirts that reach their knees, like two children and a young-old whore...
Very little to write this eve. Much has happened, but I am sore and unhappy, so I sleep early.
Got a faceful of tree on top of the cattletruck. Split lip and bruised. Dust in my eyes, nearly losing a contact, and then kicked in the head. It's been a helluva day.
Today: got up bright and early for breakfast at 7:30. From there: strict orders to be ready to go at 8. 8:00 comes and goes. We play euchre. We lose, Kent and I. Twice. I'm bad karma. :P. 9:00 comes and goes. At 10:30 we load up. I get a spot on the front of the camion, the cattle truck, Thus much joking about how I want the other half of my face to match the left. It's healing nicely. I got a look at it in a mirror this morning, and I look like a battered girlfriend, but most of the bruising is inside. Had a lemony thingy today and OW. Citric acid on cuts hurts...
Anyway. Breakfast was rice, refried beans, eggs, and tortillas. Same as dinner. Same as lunch/dinner today. Not as bad, but I have to go easy on the tortillas --they're very heavy.
I'm already all over dirt from yesterday. It wasn't so bad until I met a branch at 20 miles an hour and had to come down, so I could spit blood. They made me suck on an antibiotic wipe to clean it out. I have rarely tasted anything so foul. Yuck. So as I'm leaning out the back of the truck to spit, I get a cloud of dust in my eyes. I spend the next 45 minutes blind and in agony, until I give up and pop my contacts out. I drop them onto a damp Kleenex. And knock one off. I'm blind. There's a half-inch of road dust on everything. I find it (with Terry and Steve looking too) by sheer luck. Margo donates her contact case to put the contacts in.
I still haven't put them back in.
So despite all this, a beglassessed nykkit crawls up into the top front of the camion once more, for the three hour ride to El Hormiguero, on the scenic Wani river, near the largest natural preserve in Nicaragua.
Paved roads are one thing. The road to Mulukukú from Rio Blanco, where the pavement ended, was something else. Dust everywhere. They were playing tic-tac-toe on Mike's leg in the dust sifting down. The road from Mulukukú to El Hormiguero, on the other hand, was worse than Purgatorio.
We're all on top. The dust is in human below. Despite the beam broken nearly through, and the branches and electric wires that send us diving for cover, we're on top. The truck whines its way across a dirt road no wider than it is in places, concrete-slab bridges over gorges, through potholes so deep they tilt the truck 10 º or more. We're holding on for dear life. Screams and laughter.
Then there are these exhilarating moments of speed, where we fly down a hill, wild, free.
The camioneta breaks down. We pack into the other, I guess. Cause the next time I see it, it's got people clinging to it...
There's no electricity here. I'm sprawled on the tile floor of the patio in front of our side of the school, writing by candlelight. The moon is full, and so bright. The clouds are clearing; but the moonlight washes out the stars.
Went back to the river to bathe tonight. A shower's been built for those who want it, but I kind of like river bathing. It's so fun. Waldo says he knows a better place to bathe, but we didn't see him before we went down, so it was back down shit mountain tonight. Leela slipped and fell on her ass in shit yesterday, which was the source of endless amusement. There's a fast place where we could surf down the river, where I almost lost a shoe. My hair feels soft, I feel clean. I like it. Today we set up the clinica, unpacked more amoxicillin and analgesics than I've ever seen in my life, and organised.
Saw a cockroach last night with an ant clinging to its leg. Looked like the ant was trying to eat it.
Watching the dentist today. Morning: 45 extractions over 15 patients. Average patient age: ~20. Brushed my teeth after lunch.
...Along about 4:00 Joe brought in a little girl with an acute asthma attack. Had to get her weight and temperature so they could dose her. And then it turned out that she had to be in the vitals room, because we had electricity, so the machine to mist her could run. So I took ove rher charge. Stayed with her from 4:30 until 6:30 and then got dinner. And them back to the watch. We gave her three separate treatments with the mist, and by the second half of the third one, she was breathing in the mist instead of just gasping for air. Poor thing, tiny and fragile, wrapped in my towel to keep herself warm, with the fine features of the indigenous people - a small nose, solemn mouth, and huge eyes, brown-black. She was nine, looking seven or less, a tiny, tiny child. Her dad finally came at around 8:30, and I went to bed.