First full day in Pinar del Río

Trip Start Jun 24, 2008
Trip End Jul 14, 2008

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Wednesday, July 9, 2008

The next day was very interesting and pleasant. First we visited a local rehabilitation center in Puerto Esperanza. They provided a variety of medical rehabilitation for individuals who suffered from a variety of ailments and conditions ranging from heart attacks, strokes, diabetes to multiple sclerosis and everything in between. They, as all of Cuba's health providers and facilities, are connected to the large, informative Infomed computer network. Infomed has been developed for the use of Cuban health professionals. It contains full text articles from medical journals, information about a variety of specialties, hospitals, clinics, an online library of electronic publications, and much much more. It is of common utility to all health professionals and a benefit to the world.

From there we visited an agricultural co-op where farmers work together to grow and get their products to eventual mouths. From the meeting center we were transported to another farm by a tractor pulling a cart. That farm had a lot of pigs, chickens and tobacco.

After that we were treated to another wonderful reception. A man opened individual coconuts for all of us. There was a long table loaded with a variety of fruit. The building was pleasant to be in since it was relatively cool being constructed of concrete block walls with perforations so breezes could pass through.

In the afternoon we visited the Alas del Colibrí (Wings of the Hummingbird) Cultural Center. The children who are part of this center put on a wonderful performance of song and dance. All were very talented and appeared to have already received a lot of training in their art.

After that we visited a fishing coop. It is the only fishing co-op in Cuba headed by a woman. As a matter of fact, she is the only woman in Cuba who fishes for a living. We were there when a boat pulled in with a load of freshly caught fish. The fishermen had been out for three days. We watched them unload the fish, wheel them to the ice and put them on the ice.

Then we visited the wood shop and saw a boat under construction. We then had another wonderful reception with a variety of smoked and dried fish.

Our group even had an experience with Cuban medicine that day. A 79-year old woman in the group became quite ill and weak. She stayed behind that day in bed, and the woman in charge of the facility called a doctor, who came along with another doctor to diagnose her. One of the doctors spoke English. Since she was dehydrated, they gave her an IV. Later another doctor visited to check up on her and gave her a second IV. Rest and replenishment of fluids seemed to help. She was a lot better the next day. And like all medical care for Cubans, there was no charge.
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Where I stayed
El Pesebres

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