Off to a smooth start on our first day in Cacaopera, El Salvador! The town is in the poorest region of El Salvador, and the region most impacted by El Salvador's war. The clinic's team was well- prepared for us, and the trainees eager to learn. Veterans of 7 PINCC trips, Carol and Cheryl, were very impressed with how well organized everything was. We saw 20 patients, which allowed us to unpack the PINCC suitcases and sort things out without pressure. Salina, a medical student on our team, had the time to teach the patients some anatomy. Although the patients were quiet during the talk, Salina had an impact because several women approached her afterwards with questions.
As always, the patients were lovely, and grateful for the care. Among the older women there were harrowing stories of war experiences. One woman delivered her baby two months early when a bomb detonated a few yards from her home. The baby survived, but the mother was left deaf for several years. Another woman had worked as a nurse for wounded guerillas. Another woman had beautiful green eyes, a rarity in this country, but not in her village. There must have been a European ancestor who brought those genes to this remote region. It is an honor and a wonder to hear these women's stories during the patient interview.
It is rainy season here. We need to be vigilant about using the stinky mosquito cream. Our hotel is high in the mountains, surrounded by clouds in the late afternoon. What a joy to be here with such a wonderful team of women, in this forest full of colorful birds and tropical vegetation. Tomorrow is another day of adventure; we expect to see 40 patients, so there will be lots of stories to share.