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climbing the greasy pole in la concha

June 19, 2011

friday at the clinic, i saw an example of what mercedes, the director, meant by the problems that come from not having a vehicle available. a 12-year-old girl came in with her mom, sobbing, to the emergency room; she had cut really deep and wide into the back of her hand. we cleaned her up a little but she needed to see the doctor, which took forever, because he was seeing patients. when he finally got there, he had already shot her with anesthetic and prepared to stitch her up before he realized that she had (close your eyes if you’re squeamish!) cut all the way through her tendon and would need to go to the hospital for a more complicated surgical procedure than the clinic is capable of. if it had been a “real” emergency, they said would have called the ambulance, which was in managua, which is about an hour away. instead, we bandaged her up, they gave her transfer papers, and they had to tell this scared and crying girl and her mother to…get on public transportation to the nearest hospital, which is about a 30-45 minute bus ride. and for the record, “bus” in this case means these “microbuses” they have around here, which are 18-passenger vans in which it is not uncommon to cram in over 30 people, sitting backwards, crouching over each other, on laps, etc. so that is what the director meant by “it’s a problem.”
in other news, it turns out there was no use in my being pleased to miss the week-long annoying south minneapolis backyard fireworks-fest around the fourth of july. this coming week is the day of san juan bautista, for whom this municipality is formally named (“la concha” is the nickname for the proper “san juan de la concepcion”), which means party party party here in town, which means the “practice” fireworks started last week. at 4 in the morning. and have more or less been going on ever since. and the official holiday isn’t till this coming friday. ruby, alice, pack earplugs!!! there are kiddie rides already set up at the park across the street from my house, and the big fireworks event is on thursday night (seriously: they light pinatas in the shape of cows’ heads and watch them explode). the town will be more or less shut down for the celebration next friday–during the day they will set up a palo lucio (“greasy pole”!) where they put a prize at the top of a…you guessed it…greasy pole, and men try and climb up the pole, and supposedly it is a real crowd-pleaser. and there is a huge party next saturday night that danilo, the father at my house, is helping to plan. he is sooo excited that “las muchachas” (a.k.a. ruby and alice) are going to be here for all the events. i am excited too! most importantly, the clinic will be closed, at least on friday, maybe on thursday too, i’m not sure yet, so i get a break from my super-demanding 7:30-11am gig, thank god! 🙂
it turns out, too, that we will still be here for pretty much the biggest nicaraguan holiday all year (vying i’m guessing with christmas), the anniversary of the sandinista revolution on july 19, 1979. we leave the 20th, so we will get a really cool send-off! our family are big sandinistas, this year is an election year in which sandinista president daniel ortega is running for re-election, and danilo and rosa were telling me what a beautiful and important day july 19 is for them. it is so interesting and emotional to hear people here talk about history and politics. of course, expect related rants to come on this subject! 🙂

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