It's hard to describe how I'm feeling right now. I left for Peru not really knowing what to expect. What I found was a beautiful little community where life was simple, people were kind, and there was always the feeling that you were not alone. People were always there for each other, and the Santa Clotilde Centro de Salud was a perfect example of this. This place was special, not only because of the services it offered to the inhabitants along the Napo, but because it was supported and made possible by the inhabitants themselves. Everything was a group effort, from the smallest tasks to the biggest undertakings. It was a privilege for me to be a part of this, and my experience in Santa Clotilde has undoubtedly changed the way I look at healthcare and my role as a physician. It was overwhelming walking around my neighborhood today. From the jungle to the urban jungle, the difference in way of life is incredible. In the jungle, you learn that life can be simple and still bring great happiness. I miss Santa Clotilde already, and am already thinking of when and how I will be able to go back.
My last day in SC was nothing short of amazing. After clinic and the weekly general meeting on Friday, we took the boat to a place called Huiririma. As we broke off from the Napo, the water turned from brown to a shimmering black. Once we arrived in Huiririma, we took a stroll and then jumped in the river. The water was beautiful and cool, very welcome on a such a hot day.
|Brian on the boat to Huiririma|
|Approaching Huiririma, the water is a beautiful reflective black|
|Some kids watching peanuts dry - I tried one while it was still fresh, it was delicious!|
|Mazato - a fermented drink made from yuca, traditionally chewed and spat out in a container later to be mashed|
|Fanning the fire under the mazato|
|Another tool in the mazato-making process|
On the boat ride back, we stopped at Manolo's family's chakra, a small farm on the bank of the river. We brought back corn, as well as fresh sugar cane to chew on. Once back in Santa Clotilde, I had my final serving of chicken and plantains at the polleria around the corner, accompanied by all the friends I would leave the next day. After a necessary party at the local discoteca, I went for a walk to take in the quiet serenity of Santa Clotilde by night. The stars lit up the sky brighter than I'd ever seen before, their light augmented by the hundreds of fireflies all around. A few short hours later, I said goodbye to Santa Clotilde and began the long journey home.
Thanks for reading, everybody. I was happy to share this experience with all of you, and wish you all the best on your respective journeys.