Buenos días, readers! It has been another long day traveling through Guatemala. The team has shown resilience and growing friendship in the midst of a lengthy bus ride, humid temperatures, and orientation day at the Hospital Hilario Galindo.
Breakfast was served bright and early at the hotel’s buffet, and team members enjoyed a variety of American and Guatemalan breakfast fare (fried plantains were a highlight of the morning). Then, we packed our belongings and returned to the lobby in order to depart on the charter bus by nine. The hotel employees did a fantastic job of keeping us comfortable during our stay; they were friendly and efficient in loading our luggage onto our bus this morning. We took a head count, and the bus rumbled away onto the streets of Guatemala City, right on time.
Though early in the morning, there was still some traffic going out of the city, so it was slow going at first. Once we were out of the city, however, the scenery transformed into a sight to behold. Palm and coconut trees were in abundance, and there were even a few bamboo groves spotted. Local Guatemalans passed our bus on their scooters, and we passed through several small villages on the way to our destination.
After about two hours on the bus, we took a quick pit stop at a gas station, where the employees held doors for us and made us feel very welcome. Many team members purchased dried foods to snack on and carbonated beverages to ease the trials of extended bus travel. (Again, plantains were a favorite!) We finished off our journey around one in the afternoon, with our arrival at the Hospital Hilario Galindo in Retalhuleu, Guatemala. Faith in Practice staff members Paula, Fito, and Jaime were kind and accommodating for our large team. We were able to take a tour of the hospital where we will be working, and Paula did a fabulous job of explaining in detail the locations of every necessity. We viewed the operating rooms, computer rooms, and the Casa de Milagros, where the families of patients will be able to stay while their family members undergo surgery (the setup is similar to a Ronald McDonald house). Paula also pointed out where the pharmacy and storage units are located in preparation for setup and triage tomorrow.
After a quick lunch and a longer orientation meeting, covering rules, regulations, and expectations for the week, the team loaded back onto the bus and headed for the Hotel Irtra, a beautiful, sprawling resort about fifteen minutes away from Hilario Galindo. Our greeting committee was the many free-roaming peacocks scattered about the grounds. Before dinner, the team settled into their hotel rooms and had a few hours of free time before dinner. Although some members became lost on their way to dinner, everyone found the restaurant and we were able to enjoy a fulfilling meal before an exciting day tomorrow.
Tomorrow is triage day: doctors and nurses will meet with patients, create surgery schedules, and set up the operating rooms. The teammates are looking forward to a busy day of meeting families and a week full of miracles ahead.