Deet Poisoning and the Great Outdoors
Trip Start Jan 21, 2013
8Trip End May 07, 2013
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Where I stayed
Las Altruas Biological Field Station
What I did
The next day we spent the morning learning about plants from the experts Miguel and Frederico, botanists who work at Las Cruces. They took us out to the woods to show us how to identify various plant families. Yes, the day had finally come for me to put my snake boots to use. Of course my friends and I had a jungle gear photo shoot beforehand. Decked out in snake boots, zip-off field pants, flannel, bandannas, and deet bug spray we were ready to go. They took us out to the woods to show us how to identify various plant families. I learned a lot and had a lot of fun. It reminded me how much I missed my field botany class. I enjoyed La Amistad National Park, but wished we could have walked far enough to reach the Panamanian border.
After lunch, we conducted interviews in town for Caja. Each year an agent goes door-to-door to update people's medical information. Since Las Alturas is harder to reach, it made sense that we could help gather personal and medical information of some residents. The first interview was pretty rough because we were nervous and unfamiliar with some terminology and the forms. However, my partners and I had improved a great deal by the end. I remember being amazed that people were happy to tell strangers their ID number, medical history, living conditions, and vaccination history. In America, you can't go door-to-door for anything
That night it was my turn for dishes. Arlin and I enjoyed getting to know our two chefs who are responsible for the plethora of delicious foods. Before bed, I enjoyed card games with the group. That night it was a little easier to sleep but I took the same extreme precautionary measures. I found myself missing Las Cruces were bugs aren't a big concern.
On the last full day it was my group's turn at the medical clinic. Since the EBAIS is further than convenient, once a month this "pink house" is accessible by the people. We worked in shifts so I started out with my friend observing our professor care for patients. I got to take the temperature of a little girl and see common ailments of more rural populations. There were cases of scabies and diarrhea and I noticed my professor had all people take a pill for worms before leaving. It was nice to see that people of any income level could get the care they need. Afterwards, I worked in the nurse's room to prepare people to see the doctor. I was really happy that I learned how to take blood pressure during my EMT training. We took people's blood pressure, weight, and height. We also took the height and weight of a kindergarten class. Finally, we finished our time playing with the local school children as they waited their turn
After lunch we did a group hike in the National Park. I had not anticipated it to be so rigorous. It was basically 5K of straight incline so it took about two hours to reach the top. The walk down was much easier. After dinner I led a discussion on intellectual property and traditional medicine for journal club. Some interesting points were made. We were all exhausted and ready for bed but our professors had a surprise campfire waiting for us! It was really fun sitting around making smores and playing games. It felt exactly like summer camp and it was great.
The next morning it was time to depart for the Boruca territory and I found myself wishing we could stay longer despite the bug problem, lack of electricity, and ice cold showers.