While in San Pedro, I learned a lot about the healthcare system because our fragile flower got sick.
In Guatemalan culture, it’s not normal for families to have simple thermometers in their houses. If they’re sick enough to have a lasting fever that’s not going down, they go to the local health center or their family doctor to figure out what’s wrong. This practice was very strange for us since we usually wait until we’re on the verge of passing out before going to see a doctor. We went to the Centro de Salud and first met with a nurse for vitals and later the doctor. It took us about 30 minutes, from entrance to exit. There wasn’t a lab on site, but the doctor gave us a referral if Claire’s symptoms got worse, as well as medication to help with dehydration and nausea. Like good Americans, we waited for the receptionist to give us a bill. He looked at us and asked if we needed anything else. We quickly said “no” and rushed out, hoping he didn’t realize we hadn’t paid. Turns out, affordable health care is considered a necessity to the flourishing of a community. Shocking, right? Anyways, shout out to the staff at the health center. An entire female staff, minus the male receptionist. We went on a Saturday, so the nurse/pharmacist had her daughter with her, teaching her about medicine. Wish we had better examples of this in the States.
Unfortunately for Claire, she didn’t get better and needed stronger drugs. Thus, we went to a doctor that our local mom recommended to us. She trusted him and takes her 3 daughters to his clinic when they are sick. At breakfast, our mom personally called the doctor and scheduled an appointment with him for Claire. The clinic was located in a neighboring town, so we took a 10 minute tuktuk there. The doctor was patient and kind. At this point, I had fumbled through explaining her symptoms to many healthcare providers, so I took the time to write out her symptoms in Spanish. The doctor, Israel Hernandez, did a quick assessment and prescribed a heavy antibiotic and zinc, to help strengthen her immune system. Since it was a private doctor, there was a cost associated with it: a grand total of $12 for seeing a doctor and drugs. Didn’t put us in debt to receive quality healthcare. We didn’t have to skip any meals, get a strike at work, or re-figure how to pay rent.
Needless to say, I am thankful for the easy access to healthcare in the small town of San Pedro. The healthcare professionals were compassionate and competent, and did not try to take advantage of us since we were extranjeros. Also thankful to our local mom who consistently checked on Claire, making her soup and tea. We love Estela and miss her already. She assured me that Claire would get better, “poco y poco”.
For the sake of democracy, I tried to figure out the mail system of San Pedro in order to vote in a midterm election. Why work so hard to vote in a midterm election? Glad you asked. Because the educated white girl (#privileged) vote is very important in this election and because I will do everything in my power to make sure we have the best candidate as our Governor. @StaceyAbrams @teamabrams #iwillcryifbrianwins And because it’s my civic duty to vote and as a white female, I have only had that right for less than 100 years. CrAzY. Why did I have to print my ballot and snail mail it? I am not sure. Why couldn’t I have voted online? Also not sure. We do finances online, there has to be a secure way to vote. Alas, we’re way behind with voting technology, so I tried working out a way to get my ballot to the Voter’s Office in Athens, Ga through the international mail system. Shout out to our girl, Paula Williams, at the voter’s registration office in Athens. We’ve been emailing for a few months now, starting when I had to submit my voter’s absentee request. I’d say we’re going steady now.
We were told that there was a post office in San Pedro and we can mail through the local service. Turns out, the post office is not consistently open. Everytime I went, the office was closed. So I had to figure out a new plan. I was also told that a private mail service was offered to travelers through travel agencies. I spent an afternoon asking shop owners if they had a mail service. I received a variety of answers from “try the post office”, “can’t you just email whoever you’re sending mail to”, “you realize you’re in a small Guatemalan town? You have to go to a large city”. It was a great exercise to practice my Spanish. I was prepared to get on a lancha (a small boat) and ride across the lake to mail our ballots. FOR THE SAKE OF DEMOCRACY. In the end, we ended up becoming friends with an American who was going back stateside in a week and we sent our ballots with her. Thanks Devin!
If we can vote from a rural pueblo in Guatemala, you can vote too! Election Day is November 6th. You truly don’t have an excuse. Get out there and vote.