“Just A Teacher”

Jaime Madison

Picture this. It’s 7:55 in the morning. I’m walking to math of all classes. I’ve already been up since 6:15 because Regan convinced me that it was a good idea to go to the gym that early (why?!). I’m irritable and exhausted, and I really just want a nap already. On my way, I run into a guy I know.

Him: “Where ya heading?”

Me: “Math class”

Him: “What math are you in?”

Me: “3911. It’s for education majors.”

Him: “Oh you’re an education major? Wow. I just don’t think I could do that.”

Me: “Yeah, well I really just love kids. I think I’m meant to be a teacher.”

Him: “And you’re okay with just being a teacher?”

Um, excuse me?? Dude. Way to ruffle my feathers and it’s not even 8 AM yet. What do you mean by JUST a teacher? Honestly, I am really just so sick…

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Day Seven.

By day seven we were all dragging to get out of bed in the morning. We forced ourselves out of bed and headed downstairs for breakfast with the family. Today was pancakes with fruit again – I don’t think I would ever get sick of their fruit. After a short breakfast, we packed up and headed down to the office – of course joined by our welcoming crew.

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Today was another day in San Pablo, back to the same location as the day before. I helped out in pharmacy today which was interesting. The people would come to us after consulting with a doctor and we would be responsible for packaging up their medications (think advil, antibiotics, antibacterial cream, etc.), and explaining what to do with them. Explaining how to take their meds proved difficult, and we were all laughed at many times throughout the day trying our best to give directions.

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There was a lull in the clinic as the doctors were taking a while with patients, so the kids were getting a little restless. One adorable little boy came over and asked us to blow up a balloon for him. Right after getting the balloon he brought it to his sister and kept coming back to get more until every kid in the clinic had one – such a sweet little boy!

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We took a little break for lunch, which today was potato pancake type things with avocado and tortillas (of course). After lunch we were still backed up so we decided to take a walk down the street to a cemetery. In Guatemala, they bury their loved ones above grounds, which was really interesting to see. We went back inside and finished up with the clinic a few hours later.

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One more group picture – before we left they talked to us about how thankful they were for us coming to help and expressed how much the people of Guatemala need the help that organizations like Volunteers Around the World is able to provide. It was really touching to hear how important what we were doing was to the people, and how much they appreciated everything we were able to do.

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After a quick bus ride back to San Pedro, we quickly did inventory and met with Karl to get some coffee. The coffee in Guatemala was insanely good – like good enough that you don’t need to put anything in it. I bought 7 pounds as souvenirs for some of my family (and myself). We finished up and headed into town for some ice cream. We shopped around a little bit and then decided to take a tuk tuk home since we were all carrying lots of extra weight in coffee.

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We stuck to our typical routine of hanging out and then sat down for an americanized dinner with our family. Our host mom made fried chicken, zucchini, and french fries with tortillas. Felix also showed us the chamomile plant they use to make the tea we were offered every night. The tea was unreal and we kept asking how we could make it and why it was so much better at home – fresh chamomile.

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We talked about our day and eventually headed upstairs and called it a night, ready for our last day of clinical in the morning.

Day Six.

Day six was back to work bright and early. We got up, had breakfast with the family and headed down to the office to start the day. Today’s clinic was in San Pablo and was only a few towns from San Pedro. By now I’m disappointed to hear when our bus ride is shorter than 45 minutes because we’ve all grown accustomed to using the travel time for a quick nap before the day really starts – but it is nice to be at the clinic nice and early to set up.

Today’s clinic location was pretty small – it was almost like a gazebo in the way it was shaped and had separate rooms for the doctors which was nice, but it was FREEZING.

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I was a floater today, meaning I could help out wherever they needed me. I snuck my way over to vitals so I could be with Sophie and Taylor for the day. We had two ‘stations’ to do blood pressure, blood sugar, and respirations. Taylor and I tackled one station where I was responsible for taking blood pressures and counting respirations, while Taylor did blood sugar and tried her best to explain to each patient that it would hurt a little bit (a challenge in itself).

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Now might be a good time to express how surprising the lack of health care in Guatemala was. Obviously we were there for a reason (they really needed help), but even for me, with no medical background, it was so obvious and heartbreaking to see the lack of health care available to them. I kept thinking how so many of the patients we saw came in for headaches, or because they had a rash – things we easily treat with ibuprofen or antibacterial cream at home. To us it’s a quick drive to the pharmacy, but to them it’s debilitating because they aren’t able to afford/find the medications they need. That’s not to say that we didn’t see more serious things – I saw a man with Parkinson’s, and things like diabetes were running rampant among the people of Guatemala. Unfortunately, there wasn’t much we could do to help them as giving them medicine would only last a short while until they would need to refill – something they were unable to do. It’s hard not to feel absolutely heartbroken for these people, but fortunately clinics like the ones we run are becoming more common so things like advil and antibacterial creams are becoming more accessible to them.

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Someone found a cotton plant (tree? bush?) outside and picked some to show us – I’ve never seen cotton like this straight from the plant which was really cool. One of our patients also brought in these (very photogenic) nuts. I didn’t try one, but everyone said they were good!

Once the clinic died down, we packed up and headed back to San Pedro. We did inventory (again), and our group decided to walk down Gringo Alley (downtown) to get smoothies and do some shopping. Shopping here reminded me of when I went to Mexico and had to bargain everything before I bought it. They set the price high knowing that you’ll try to get it for cheaper, and usually you’re able to get things for a decent price. I looked at some jewelry, but decided that I would go back another day to get what I wanted. We finished up shopping and headed home for the night.

 

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This little cutie joined us for a smoothie date a few of the days we were here. She was the sweetest thing ever.

Taylor, Sophie, and I hung out in Sophie’s room for a few hours until dinner. Felix Jr. had a doctors appointment because he was sick, and so we didn’t eat until almost 9:00. Tonight’s dinner was eggplant, scrambled eggs, beans, and tortillas. Thinking about it now as I write, some of the combinations we had for dinner were very strange – but it was always so so good.

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Felix Jr. told us he had a respiratory infection and had been given medicine to take. He was very hesitant to take his pills, and took a little cheering on to get them down. From that night forward he refused to take his medicine – no matter how much his mom begged him – until his “hermanas” were home to help him (cue tears). After a late dinner we were ready for bed, knowing tomorrow was another early day!

Day Five.

Five days in and it was time for a day off! We woke up Sunday morning at 7:45 ready to take on the day. We had plans to go to “Las Fuentes Georginas” – the hot springs. I woke up in tears with a VERY swollen, sunburnt face and debated not making the trip with the risk of putting myself in more sun, but ultimately decided to suck it up so I didn’t miss out – priorities ;). We put on lots of sunscreen and packed enough aloe to last a normal person’s lifetime.

Sunday’s are a day of rest for the local Guatemalans, and our host family was no exception (even though they tried to convince us “no es una problema,” that they would cook us breakfast against the rules). We politely told them to enjoy their rest day and headed to D’Juice Girls for smoothies. Today we decided to take the less healthy route, and started our day with a smoothie made with oreos, nutella, coffee, and granola – that’ll get you going! It was so good, but SO incredibly filling. I think I threw mine out after 3 sips.

We all loaded up into the bus ready to make the almost four hour trek to the hot springs. I heard that despite the long drive, it was quite the beautiful ride – however, I was passed out (with a fever) before we even left San Pedro.

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We arrived at the hot springs a few hours later and walked around a bit before heading to change into our bathing suits. As soon as we got off the bus we were overwhelmed with the smell of sulfur. It wasn’t the best smell, but we stopped noticing it pretty quickly. The hot springs were like little hot tubs/jacuzzi pools that were heated by a volcano. They’re connected and each pool was a different temperature.

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There were a surprising amount of people at the hot springs, but they were pretty nice. I debated not even going in due to my fever, but was so cold standing outside that it was actually warmer going in them, and am so happy I did. Fortunately the sun was hiding pretty much the entire time we were there, which was more than appreciated after the prior days of sunburn.

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The one we went into was really warm – like you can’t stay in for much longer than 45 minutes, but it felt amazing and was so cool to think that we were swimming in something heated by a volcano.

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We hung out by the springs for a couple hours and then headed to a restaurant they had there for a quick group lunch. Sophie and I split nachos and a burger (needing American food), and after lunch we got back into the bus to head home.

Once again I slept the entire way and missed the beautiful views again. I passed out literally on top of Sophie also causing her to miss some good photo opportunities (sorry).

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Apparently everyone was feeling the same way that I was…

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Three and a half hours later we were home and ready to relax. We chatted a little with Felix Jr, urging him to take his medicine (that he wouldn’t take unless we were home) and he referred to us as “mis hermanas” (my sisters) – be still my heart. Our host family was just that – family.

We showered and a few hours later Sophie and I headed to dinner with some of our friends at a restaurant called Clover. I got chips and probably some of the best guacamole I’ve ever had. We tuk-tuked home, and found Taylor passed out – long day.

It was a good day, and we went to bed ready for another day of clinical bright and early in the morning.

Dove Cool Essentials Dry Spray

Hi everyone, once again I’m slacking on the blogging front. It’s been a busy few weeks – I had a week of exams, turned 21(!), went away for a week, and am just getting back into the swing of things. I’ll be back soon to finish up all things Guatemala and to fill you in on my trip – hello St.Croix!

Today’s post however is something a little different, and I hope you find it interesting!

We’re talking deodorant today..
I put on deodorant so often my mom used to ask me if I was eating it because she had to buy it so often – don’t want to be the smelly girl! I used to be super loyal to Dove’s “Go Fresh” deodorant and somewhere down the line switched over to Axe’s (mens) Apollo and absolutely love it.

I recently tried Dove’s Cool Essentials Dry Spray and was pleasantly surprised. When I first saw it I was a bit hesitant. I’ve used gel deodorants before and HATED them. They always left my skin wet for what felt like forever, and left a weird feeling residue on me. My past experience with the gel deodorant left me thinking I would hate this product and thinking it would be similar to the gels.

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Thankfully, I was wrong. It sprays on easily and dries after a minute or two. My favorite part about it was that it left no white marks on my clothes. I wear a lot of black, so having a deodorant that doesn’t leave white all over my clothes is important to me.

Usually I’ll reapply my deodorant a few times a day (hence why I go through it so fast), but didn’t feel like I needed to with this. I probably would reapply it just out of habit, but it definitely wasn’t necessary.

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I laid it next to a water bottle just for size reference, it’s a decent size and goes for $7.99 at CVS. I would recommend trying this deodorant out if you’re in the market for a new one!

I’ll be back soon to finish up Guatemala and to fill you in on everything else!

If you’ve tried this deodorant I’d love to hear what you thought of it in the comments!

 

I received this product free for testing purposes, but all opinions are my own.

Day Four.

Day four started at – you guessed it, 5:45. By now convincing ourselves to get out of bed this early every morning is becoming a little bit of a struggle, but we were able to see a beautiful sunrise right out our window – perks of waking up before the sun. Sophie, Taylor and I huddled around the window trying to capture the beauty of the sunrise, but the pictures don’t do it any justice.

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This tree haunted me every morning – completely in the center of a good sunrise picture!

Breakfast today was back to our usual pancakes and fruit. We tried papaya today, and while it definitely wasn’t my favorite, it’s always fun to try new things. We also had freshly squeezed orange juice today, which was phenomenal. We chatted with Felix and Francela over breakfast and headed out for another day of pediatrics in Santa Clara.

Today I was assigned to help with vitals which meant I was helping get heights, weights, and temperatures of our little patients. Now I’m not a nursing major anymore, but working with those little kiddies made me reconsider – just for a second.

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we all fell in love with this little cutie!

We had a quick rush of people in the morning and it slowed down throughout the afternoon. The building was freezing, so we went outside for lunch and to take a little break to give the doctors a chance to catch up. Francela made us pasta, a salad, and veggies, packed up with an avocado for us to split and of course tortillas. We weren’t really supposed to eat any fruits or vegetables without skin that we could peel, so the salad was a little risky, but Sophie and I risked it while Tay decided to play it safe. Hey if we haven’t gotten sick yet, I’m willing to risk it. IMG_9201IMG_9209

These cute little pups hung around us while we were eating but one of them was terrified and wouldn’t come anywhere near us. Everyone left their lunch scraps on a rock and eventually they mustered up the courage to eat it. The dog situation in Guatemala still breaks my heart and if I could I would take every single one of them home with me.

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We probably were sitting outside for a total of an hour, maybe an hour and a half tops, but nobody thought to put on sunscreen – ok maybe some people did, but Tay, Sophie, and I were left out of the loop. We hadn’t needed sunscreen any of the days prior, so the thought of it didn’t cross our minds, and nobody had packed any. I quickly regretted that later in the afternoon when my face was the color of a tomato and hurt when the wind blew – oops.

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After eating lunch an adorable little girl came over and did everyone’s hair. She went around in the circle asking everyone questions “tienes pulseras?” – she was so curious if anybody was wearing bracelets or rings, and also was so intrigued by everyone’s hair. She wasn’t happy to leave when her brother came to get her, but was sure to give everyone a hug before she left.

We packed up to leave around 2:30, all with sore, sunburnt faces, and were happy to hear we had seen a total of 125 children that day. We headed back to the office, did our daily inventory, and decided to take a walk downtown. We had plans to go to “las fuentes georginas” – hot springs, so we had to stop by the travel agency to pay for our trip. After taking care of that, we walked around and saw what kind of stores were down there. It was much more touristy there, although still relatively quiet, and there were a lot of cute shops and people set up at tables selling jewelry, bags, and little trinkets.

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Karl had recommended that we all try a local smoothie shop called “Da Juice Girls.” I got a pineapple coconut smoothie made with orange juice and it was amazing. They used all fresh fruit and although they took forever for them to make, we all loved them.

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After our smoothie date we hiked up the hill to the house to shower and relax for a while. A few hours later we had dinner with the family which was soup with eggs and noodles – very interesting, but good. We talked to Felix, Felix Jr., and Francela about our day and then headed upstairs to bed.

Day Three

Day three started with another 5:45am wake-up call. Breakfast today was a banana sandwich on “toast” with a side of pineapples – and bananas, with coffee. Their version of toast is bread that comes packaged already toasted – very interesting. Anyone that knows me knows I hate bananas, so I was less than enthusiastic about today’s breakfast, but I didn’t want to be rude so I did my best to force the bananas down. I’ll admit there were a few silent tears, but I managed to choke them down.

We walked down to the office and were once again followed by pups. We called this one Mama, and she followed us almost every day we were there!

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Today’s clinic location was in Buena Vista, which was a little farther than the days before. I was responsible for intake today – checking patients in, getting their medical history, and figuring out the reason for their visit. Many of the people we saw came in just because it was a chance for them to meet with a doctor, with no real complaints – they just wanted to make sure everything was ok and check in with a doctor.

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We also only saw children at this location, which left me feeling very happy to know we were able to help so many kids who typically wouldn’t even see a doctor. We set up and realized we forgot to pack our intake forms the night before which made our job a little more interesting, but we were able to improvise and get all the information we needed.

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Sophie was feeling much better than the days before and was finally able to come join us at the clinic! With the doctors being backed up much of the day I was able to hang out with Sophie and Taylor quite a bit which was fun. There were so many cute kids and the families were so thankful and gracious towards us. I got many hugs and even a kiss on the cheek from an adorable little girl. I was lucky enough to meet and hold the most darling baby, Jasmine, and immediately fell in love with her.

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Probably the biggest learning curve at this location was the bathrooms. Guatemalan bathrooms are vastly different from those in America – you can’t flush toilet paper due to the size of their pipes. You also need to carry TP with you everywhere you go as many places don’t provide it. Training ourselves to never flush anything in the toilet was tough, but today we learned that no two toilets are the same in Guatemala ;). At this location they had manual flush toilets, which meant you filled a bucket with water, brought it into the bathroom, and poured it in to manually flush the toilet – a little intimidating!

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Lunch today was rice and vegetables – of course with a tortilla. We left later in the afternoon and headed back to the office to discuss what we wanted to do on our free days. There was talks of a trip to Antigua, zip lining, and hiking. We left and all agreed it was time for a trip to the bank to exchange money, so we hailed a tuk tuk to take us there. Tuk Tuks are like the taxis of Guatemala. You could pay 5 quetzales (less than $1!) and go anywhere in San Pedro.

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After exchanging money we walked back home and went up to our rooms to rest. On our walk every day we would see women carrying baskets on their heads. I give major props to the women in Guatemala – they were always carrying heavy baskets walking straight uphill! We had delicious soup and tortillas for dinner and spent a lot of time talking with our host family. Felix taught us more Spanish and we thought it was time we taught him some English. We took turns doing tongue twisters in the opposite languages which was really fun.

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Their accent is kind of heavy which makes saying certain English sounds really difficult for them. Felix and Francela were good sports, and thought it was hilarious.

 

We were so thankful that we were placed with the family we were. They were always so willing to spend hours on end talking to us, helping us improve our Spanish, and providing us with tons of entertainment. We definitely hit the jackpot and looked forward to spending time with them each night. Sophie’s Spanish was improving despite her anxiety about speaking at dinner each night, and we were all able to work together to have fulfilling conversations every night. We missed many nights out at the bar with our friends, but didn’t think twice about it because of the fun we had at home.