No sweeter words have been spoken to me. The Dominicans have such a kind and open way of expressing their love and appreciation. They hug each other hello, even when they just saw each other the day before. They greet everyone in the room, and when they appreciate someone, they say it! Very refreshing!
We started the day with a quick tour of the open-air market. Tons of local vendors selling their produce and products…everything from saddles and machetes to potatoes and bananas. You should have smelled the fresh cilantro as we walked past. Of course, there was also a nice booth with freshly cut meat sitting out in the heat for everyone to inspect… was well as a half a hog hanging behind the counter!
Our clinic,today, was in the Valle Juelo area of Sabana Grande, in the south of the DR. This is near Barahona, which is the one place where the national stone of the DR (Larimar) is mined. We set up in the most comfortable setting of the week, a community room with indoor plumbing and cool(ish) breezes blowing through the windows. Sweating was kept to a moderate level today!
As soon as we arrived, I made friends with a 14 month old baby named Esmailin. She let me pick her up and hold her, and screamed bloody murder when her Mama took her out of the building. Later, she came back, and spent about an hour sitting on my lap scribbling on paper while I helped with the pharmacy station. For the most part, the kids here are very open to all of our new faces. They love it when you give them special attention, ask how old they are, tell them how beautiful they are, ask their names, etc. Our visits are a huge treat for villagers who rarely see outsiders or extra TLC.
After lunch, we hopped in the bus and drove up and down rocky roads to get to this cool location where there was a river coming down from the mountains. The local people have done quite a bit of work to build a series of dams, which have created natural river-water swimming pools. Very cool to see something this advanced in such a remote area. Then it was back to the clinic to see the rest of the people waiting for us. We saw over 120 people today… our most productive day of the week as far as numbers go!
Around 3:30 pm, we packed up our supplies and headed back to the guesthouse for the evening. The nursing and pharmacy group unpacked and inventoried the supply boxes in preparation for next weeks group. After a yummy dinner, several of the folks enjoyed visits from their own sponsored students, who live here in San Juan.
As we drove away from the clinic site, I saw these two ladies wheeling donated suitcases to their homes!