DÍA 5: MIERCOLES
Savory breakfast vibes are always my favorite. I could eat this everyday.
MIERCOLES: Today we were heading to the community of Chuicutama. During our CARE meeting the previous day, we heard of a woman named Manuela. She walked 8 hours to get a meeting with AMA! On our ride to this village that lives at 11,000 feet, I couldn't imagine walking to/from this destination. We turned off of the highway to enter unpaved roads down into the community. I was thankful for the sunshine and lightly clouded skies. Lupe said that we could see all six volcanoes at once from this point. This picture certainly does not do the actual breathtaking views any justice.
In addition to supporting midwifery, AMA also builds safe stoves in communities across the highlands. There are many negative effects to open fire cooking, in addition to the amount of time that it takes. Upper respiratory infections are so common amongst women and children. Manuela wanted a stove built in her community, but she got something better. A community center! It was election season, so roads were getting paved for political candidates to come thru and campaign.
The bone-setter, Don Marcario led an information session on medicinal plants for our team and the other women in the K'Iche community. He mentioned that Mayan medicinal plants are inexpensive with no secondary side effects but it might take longer to feel results.
Use the Hacedera root to make a hot drink that purifies the blood. Boil the roots of barbech and swish the paste for toothace relief. Sabila, or aloe is great for open wounds and burns. He mentioned blending it into water for stomachaches or gas, which is something that I have been doing. ;) Llleva Buena looked a lot like mint, but was great for fighting bacteria in the stomach. Boganbila flowers cure sore throats and coughs, add milk and cinnamon for a delicious tea. Saliciato roots are used for inflammation and the scent was very reminiscent of Vick's vapor rub. There are two types of tobacco, puro y monte. One is used as an analgesic while the other leaf is used to set bones. I am not gonna lie, my mind started to wander at this point, but I was still taking notes. The last thing he passed around was manzanilla (chamomile). I know this flower gets mad love but I have never paid it much mind. Guatemalas love their chamomile and it has so many wonderful properties! Also an anti-inflamamatory, makes a great tea, and can be found all across the mountainside.
He then offered adjust people in the audience who might've had an issue with their huesos. I took a hilarious video of our awesome team leader, Janett getting her ankle adjusted. Everyone reported success after their procedures, with no additional pain. I was mesmerized every time a cloud rolled thru. I overheard my housemates, "It's crazy that the clouds are passing by." "Isn't that just fog?" "Isn't a cloud, just fog?" #deep. I wanted to believe that we were that high up in the sky that clouds were passing us by!
To the right of the community center was the local water source. Throughout the course of the day, I witnessed numerous women coming to wash their clothes, blankets, and dishes. I know it's culturally insensitive to take a photo but it was such a beautiful sight to me! There were two men on the mountain tending to their crops, the entire time that we were at the community center. (6 hours) Two black sheep were snacking and chilling for awhile, I wanted to pet them but they weren't feeling me. Occasionally, people would walk by toting a stack of wood or leading a caballo. Down the road to the left of the community center was the school. As we walked to check it out, we came across children leaving for the day. We tried to chat with them but they did not speak Spanish! We walked up to a clinic that had been built, there was one man sitting in there reading papers and shot records on the wall from 2013. We were mostly just happy that it was open.
Lunch was on location this day; rice and beans (you guessed it). an apple, and a Chiky. However, there were greens in our beans and a nice addition of queso fresco! Other than a lil' sour cream with our black beans, this was the first time I had cheese all week! It was mild yet tangy. After lunch, we would get to experience the Temascal, which is a Mayan sweat bath, led by the midwifery students. There are many reasons a person would seek out a sweat bath. Cleansing the soul, healing body parts, or preparing for birth. The healer uses a handful of leaves to create steam in a cinderblock structure. A Temascal is fundamental during Indigenous birthing rituals. We went in as pairs and there were two midwives in the sweat bath as well. I was happy that there was a light cloth over the opening because I did start to feel claustrophobic and this after I bragged about doing hot yoga. The smoke added a new element. Typically during this service, midwives will massage the breast of a woman to help aid in the lactation process. Everyone on the team was expecting a boob massage but sadly, none of us got any. :( The process lasted about 10 minutes, I wished it was longer. The dreary weather and sprinkles of rain added a nice touch as we wrapped up the session.
It was a long trek home, in the rain, down a muddy road. Magarito reversed down a hill like a boss. We popped by the soccer field where our engineering housemates were building a retaining wall. The girls tried to rally a crew to go out on the town, but I was spent, so I promised to go out the next night.
Check out my complete Guatemala album on Flickr!