A very good day in Ica
Goal: Meet with the head of the regional health system, bring all the materials for MODS, go to all the health centers where we want to collect data
5am. Breakfast. Start the 10 page NYTimes article on Haiti. Too depressing to finish.
Without coffee (4 hour car ride ahead of me, uncertain bathroom stop situation) I would rather starve all day than work up the motivation to make the lunches I planned to pack.
Go over supplies: folders, photocopies of all documents that need signatures, money, hole punch, camera, diskettes, cellphone, computer, suntan lotion. Check.
6.00 Downstairs to wait for Dave, the MD I'm working for on this on project to come. Gossip with night doorman, Herman.
Herman: "Is there one Real Jefe [boss] of all the people coming in and out of Gilman central?"
We laugh hysterically.
6.15 On the road.
Alternate patches of dense fog. (Seeing fog in the barren desert still confuses me. Hot air, cold Humboldt current, and something I don't understand at all called thermal inversion.)
Discuss Arequipa situation, projects etc.
Listen to Johnny Cash (sing along) Interpol (don't know them) U2 (more singing).
10.00 Stop for coffee. Discuss outline of the paper I will hopefully write up from this project.
10.30 Meet Cesar, Gaby, Hugo at the medical school. For the rest of the day the 5 of us travel together.
Immediately meet Dean of the Medical Faculty. Exchange floral formal words bookended by handshakes and kisses. His office has many large soccer trophies.
10.55 Check email hoping a missing document that needs signing will have been sent. No luck.
11.00 Go to the DISA (the local health system headquarters) for the main meeting of the day with The Main Man. The Main Man we have been trying to meet with since September.
11.15 The Main Man is not there. He had to go to Pisco to sign some papers. Emergently.
Emergent paper signing. That's a new one.
Meet with the Younger Man in The Main Man's office.
He has one soccer trophy, same type as the Dean of the Medical School who clearly has a better soccer team. Schadenfreude.
30 minutes of words. Maybe because it is so oppressivley hot the man has forgotten to breathe.
In sum: You'll need to meet with about 3 different people who are impossible to meet with and then it will take at least two months and then everything might change with the election in April. I think it's a great idea!
Amazement that I can have such a strong visceral reaction to all of this.
Why do I care so much about any of this stuff?
What does it all mean that everything is always such a circus?
Why am I here?
Time to get over the melodramatic existential thoughts and get in the car.
11.45-12.00 Discussion about what all this means. Conclusion: All is not lost. While we're waiting for DISA support, we could still get MODS up and running.
12.00 Meet with head of the Regional Hospital. He says, "Great idea. We need this kind of test. Let me know anything you need. Sure I'll sign off on all your documents. We'll try and make this sustainable. Bye." A man of gloriously few words.
12.05 Unload microscope, MODS materials. Run back and forth to internet shop to print off corrected version of documents. Get signatures. Give the lab tech a sheet to record her work activities. Take photos.
1.30 Go to Sr. de Luren puesto de Salud. Meet with the fantastic Dr. Vicky - who I've met a few times now.
All six of us load into David's definitively 5 seater car and visit to 5 other health centers that serve people from Sr. de Luren - the pueblo joven (pop. 10 000) that had the MDR TB outbreak.
At each health center Cesar and Dr. Vicky introduce what we're all up to. We chat.
(I am choked when I try to explain the questionnaires in Spanish, but it gets a little better as the day goes on.)
Dr. Vicky knows everyone and asks amazingly detailed about individual patients at each center.
The Inka Cola - a golden colored peruvian soft drink that most non-nationals consider revoltingly sweet - we are offered at many of the places has never tasted so good.
Driving from center to center we sweat, get the car full of sand, and get lost a few times and laugh much.
5.30 The whole day has been inordinately smoother than any of the days in Arequipa thanks to Cesar, Gaby Hugo and Dr. Vicky.
More photocopies. Goodbyes to Gaby and Hugo who are going to help set up paperwork at all the clinics.
Apologies that we haven't eaten anything all day.
On the road with Cesar and Dave by 6.
Cesar is reeducated and I am educated in British rock with selections from groups with names like the The Jam, The Happy Mondays, Cocteaux something and Sioux somethingorother. Am clearly not the best student.
We stop for the famous Ica roadside olives around 8 and eat them the rest of the way.
10.30 Home, hoarse voice. Have dinner with the folks who are home in the apartment.
Apologies for the posting delay Mark!!!