The worldwide Augustana College experience

Chaotic Clinics and Wild Whitewater Rafting

The past couple of weeks have been filled with lots of travel, illness, studies, and the new excitement of Mexico.  We had multiple excursions in Peru, and finding a phone or internet proved very difficult, if the time to look could even be found.  One of my favorite activities that we did while we were still in Peru was when we went to the rainforest of Manu and went whitewater rafting.  We all got in our swimsuits and life jackets (a very attractive combo) and learned how to paddle forward, backwards, and squeeze inside the raft like sardines in case the rapids were too much for us to handle.  The raft I went in consisted of me, Christina, Emma, Alexa, Nick, Rachel, Brooke, and a guide.  As we headed for the first set of rapids, we joked about making bets on who would fall out of the raft first, most of us agreeing that it would be obviously be Rachel, one of the smallest people on this trip.  Literally about 30 seconds later, we hit the rapids and Rachel proceeded to fly out of the raft.  She managed to hang onto the side and was quickly helped back in, but needless to say, it was comically terrifying.  The rapids were not as intense after that, but succeeded in drenching all of our raft members.  This would have happened anyways, however, due to the battles we got into with the other rafts.  I wish there would have been more rapids, but when we coasted and I looked around, I couldn’t fathom that I was actually whitewater rafting in the rainforest of Peru, while my friends back home were probably sitting in lecture or working their nine to fives.  The sheer reality of the experience I was having was overwhelming.  We stopped along the river to swim for a while with the rest of the rafts and also once to jump off a sizeable cliff (resulting in my almost-death), and since there was a lack of rapids for the rest of the trip back, our raft members probably asked if we could jump out and nadar (swim) about 500 times.  Our guide was gifted with patience.  The funniest part of getting to jump out of the raft for a while to swim was not actually the swimming itself, but the process of getting back into the raft.  In order to do so, we had to cling to the side of the raft while the guide would grab us one at a time by the life jacket or under our arms and hoist us back into the raft, where we would proceed to flop around like dying fish trying to get up without hitting anyone or slipping back into the water.  There was also a big desire to be the one to spot a water snake, which pretty much always turned out to be curvy-shaped sticks.  It was overall one of my best experiences on this trip.

One of the most interesting experiences I’ve had recently has been my stay in the hospital.  I was never sick, however, two of my best friends both contracted salmonella, and I stayed with them to translate (since neither have an aptitude for Spanish) and help them out with whatever they needed (which basically meant monitoring their IVs while find sweet music videos for me to watch while they slept).  I stayed with Rachel in Cusco for a few nights while she had salmonella which turned into a mild strain of typhoid fever and traveled back to Cusco with Christina while doctors debated what exactly is was that she had.  My adventure with Christina was one of the most interesting medical trips I have ever been on.  In order to understand, it must be mentioned that I am from Rochester, MN, home of the Mayo Clinic.  So, when I think of a hospital, I think of one of the largest and most advanced hospitals in the world.  Christina got sick during the rainforest trip, and I went with her by boat and bus to the nearest “clinic.”  I put this in quotations because the reality of the “clinic” was that it was basically an abandoned building with a few old hospital beds in insect-infested rooms, due to the presence of only bars for windows.  In order to find the doctor, I had to literally go into a house and knock on a bedroom door (with the nurses running around either cooking or in their towels after a shower I’m assuming).  Every other time the doctor came in, she would poke at Christina’s stomach, and either tell her that she did or did not have appendicitis.  Keep in mind that we were there for over 24 hours, so if she did have appendicitis, her appendix would have already burst while the doctor was still going back and forth about the disease.  No other diseases were really considered, and after Christina and I stayed there for a night, we decided it would be best to go back to Cusco so Christina could get some adequate health care.  This meant a twelve hour bus ride on an extremely bumpy road with Christina still attached to an IV which was tied and taped to the van (subsequently making her attached to the van) with a traveling nurse who didn’t do much except periodically shoot medicines into the IV and prevent Christina from eating.  By the time we reached Cusco, I couldn’t have been more grateful for the medical attention I’ve received at home.  It may be a thousand times more expensive, but I would pay it in double after experiencing the clinic in the rainforest.  I understand that being in the rainforest means that supplies are more limited and care will be a little less up to par, but I can’t even do a decent job of describing that clinic.  On the upside, both Rachel and Christina are doing much better now and since Mexico, I believe that our group as a whole has been much more healthy.

We’ve only been in Mexico for a few days, but so far the food is amazing, the country is beautiful, and the nightlife is alive and well.  Our school is very nice and has both a snack bar and a pool, and although the amount of homework hinders my enjoyment of the pool and such, the classes are both intriguing and challenging.  Tomorrow we are going to a soccer game in Mexico City, and I could not be more enthused.  I believe that La Cruz Azul (the blue cross) is playing a team whose name I do not know.  However, I am prepared to deck myself out in blue and cheer La Cruz Azul on to squashing the other side.  This trip was an optional added activity for us, and I bet it is the one optional trip that everyone wants to go on.  I’m certain that this will be another highlight of the trip for me, and I am so incredibly pumped to see an actual soccer game in Mexico.  It will be fantastic.  On that note, I am off to finish my homework and rest up for the big day tomorrow.



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