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9/13/06 (Wednesday)

Wednesday, September 13, 2006 

6:45 AM.  77 degrees, 81% humidity.  Another 10 hour sleep!  We aren’t working that hard but when dark comes at 7:30 we turn in for the night.  I have been sleeping through to around 6 AM.  The roosters start the waking process about 4 than someone in the village turns on their music nice and loud.  There is no electricity here but people have solar panels that generate power.  The “hospital” and the building we stay in is powered by solar panels and a series of batteries.  Jane was studying the setup as she would like to invest in solar for her clinic for power when the electricity goes off.  Also, she feels it would save money in the long run.

Jane was also studying the water system.  The rainwater is collected off the roof and channeled into large PVC containers under the building.  The containers probably hold 200 to 300 gallons each.  There are several that are all interconnected.  The water is then pumped to a similar container at roof level which then allows gravity feed water to the building.  We then boil the water for drinking and cooking.  The water is quite soft making showering easy with just a little soap.  Jane at times runs out of water at her clinic as the well runs dry.  A system like this would give her a back-up supply.  She has a lot of roof surface now that would collect a fair amount of rainwater.  I feel the solar power and water system would be good investments for her clinic.  The roof on the main clinic building is flat and has no shade.  The solar panels could go up there and would be out of the way so people wouldn’t bother them.  They probably wouldn’t even be visible.


Between the hospital and the dorm were some solar panels that were the source of power for the two buildings.  Inside the dorm were several batteries connected to this system.  This was the only electricity there.


Battery system for the solar panels.


The rain water was collected from the roof and routed into the large, blue PCV tanks sitting under the hospital building.  There were 5 or 6 of these tanks.  Behind the building was another large tank on a high stand.  Every morning a gas engine pump would run for awhile to pump water into the high tank.  We then had water fed by gravity to both buildings.


Many of the bigger canoes are powered.  The only highway is the river and traffic goes back and forth with small canoes paddled by kids (even small ones) and adults.  Then bigger ones powered by outboards move by.  Jane said the outboard motors are taken off and stored at the owner’s house at night so they aren’t stolen.  We have had a couple stored on the porch.  This morning, one “motorist” who works for the clinic here came and picked up his motor.  It was a 40 hp motor, big enough to be heavy.  He picked it up and shouldered it and walked down the steps and down the riverbank and put it on the canoe.  I am bigger then he is but I think he is much stronger!  I learned he is in his mid fifties.  He came back and picked up his full 15 to 20 gallon gas can and walked off with it without any noticeable effort. 

Today, we will see more people for paps.  The lady receiving a pap only gets that.  No history is taken.  The visit is quick.  For many it is their first pap ever.  Yet, as I examine all these women, I see “textbook” examples of a normal, healthy cervix.  We have seen only a couple people with candida.  There is no cervicitis like I see all the time at home where women get annual exams consistently.  I wonder why the difference.  In this village the marital unit stays intact with large families.  Possibly the lack of exposure to other partners, lack of soaps, etc., could make the difference.  People bathe in the river and do their laundry there.  Sewage goes into a pit in the ground.  There appears to be some degree of sanitation in place.  In spite of the harsh conditions, people seem healthy for the most part.  The more common problems relate to parasites, worms, amoeba, etc.

It is an experience I’ll never forget to be here and be part of this culture.  Thank You, Lord, for bringing me here! 

2:15 PM.  85 degrees, 70% humidity.  Lunch time.  We saw 36 patients and have done a total of 100 paps.  The neighbors next door were picking coconuts from a very tall tree.  They have chopped steps into the tree but were using a very long bamboo rod with a hook on the end.  The guy would lift the pole up from the ground and would hook a coconut and bring it down.  A bare-chested older lady would pick up the coconuts and carry them into the house.  I got some pictures of the coconut harvest.


The bamboo pole was about 5” in diameter at the base and was quite long, and probably quite heavy. 


He is reaching for the coconuts with the pole and hooking them to pull them loose.  Then he jumps out of the way as the coconut falls to the ground.



The lady scurried around picking up the coconuts and carried them into the house. 

One lady came in to see us and initially I thought she was in for a pap.  She had the largest breasts I have ever seen!  I joked with Jane in English that if she had a breast mass Jane would have to find it.  Jane asked the lady if she wanted a pap.  She responded that she didn’t need a pap but had a breast mass.  I laughed out loud!  When she exposed the breast in question there was a large abcess that Jane opened and drained.  I suspect each breast probably would weigh 20 pounds at least.


At lunch our cook served a salad of lettuce, cucumbers, tomatoes with a dressing of mustard, vinegar and salt.  It was very good – tasted much like Phyllis’ cucumbers and onions. Our afternoon went slower with a few paps and some minor problems.  We saw a total of 47 today and a grand total of 146.   This is our last night in Zapallo Grande.  It has been a good experience to mix in the culture of these people.  Jane told me more about the Chachi Indians and their culture.  They utilize witch doctors a lot for their illnesses but will come for medical care as well.  We saw a lot of these ladies today for pap smears.  This is a different world to me as my culture would be totally different to them. 

Jane took care of a 6 year-old boy today who cut his thumb quite badly with a machete.  These kids learn early on using the machete and using a narrow canoe that is very tippy.  Yet, they all stand and row and make it look very easy.



The boy came close to cutting his thumb off.


He did have some movement.  Jane had trouble trying to put it back together.


After the dressing change the boy posed for a picture. 

One mealtime conversation was telling stories of this place and how it used to be.  We now have flush toilets.  Not long ago the only toilet was a pit which you stood over or sat over to relieve yourself.  The pit was usually swarming with large rats.  Jane said that was always the most difficult part of this place.  Up river many villages have a community pit for everyone.  Occasionally someone falls into the pit and that needs no further description.  In the U.S. we have no idea of how people live in other parts of the world. 

It is time to turn in for the night.  It stayed really warm last night and I sweat a lot.  I think tonight will be similar.

Views from the front porch…


A man in his canoe moving along the river.



Looking directly across the river from the porch.


A nice crop of bananas getting ready for harvest.



I took these pictures with my telephoto after the sun came up and the water from the rain in the night was still on the leaves. We return to San Lorenzo tomorrow and I will probably want to do some laundry first thing, esp. the sweaty sheets. 

Lord, Thank You for who You are and for what You do.  You created this place and it is beautiful.  Satan has misled so many and defiled Your creation.  Yet, I know that won’t last forever.  Thank You for allowing me to minister to the people here.


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