After about 24 hours of travel, we arrived safely yesterday afternoon to San Lucas Toliman, a town of about 27,000 people in Guatemala's Western Highlands. San Lucas is located on Lake Atitlan, largely considered one of the most beautiful lakes in the world. We were delighted to discover that our accommodations, the Hotel Iquiatiu, overlooks this massive body of water, and mountains and volcanos surround us. Our drive from the capital of Guatemala City gave us a wonderful introduction to the landscape, colors, industry and general way of life here. The three-hour drive and initial arrival into San Lucas was nothing short of breathtaking.
After getting settled in, we reconvened at the San Lucas Mission, the Catholic church and school affiliated with the New Ulm Diocese. At the mission we will eat our meals and gather for reflection and fellowship. There are a few long- term volunteers here that gave us an overview of the inner workings of the mission. We also enjoyed a delicious meal of meatloaf and roasted potatoes. A few of the veteran volunteers were lucky enough to see some friends both old and new, and exchange stories of the work they've done in hopes of bettering the lives of the local population. It was generally an early night to bed for all. Many of us operated on only five hours of sleep and so hit the hay around 8pm. There were some barking perros and a rainstorm during the night that woke a few of us, but for the most part it was incredibly restorative sleep.
We were early to rise this morning and met on the roof of our hotel at 7:30 to say a prayer and make our plans for the day. We ate a breakfast of eggs and beans at the Mission and then all piled in the back of a Ford pickup truck with our medical supplies. After a few quick stops to pick up more meds, we arrived in San Juan Mirador, a small village about 1/2 hour from San Lucas. We set up shop and quickly found our groove. Getting a system down and learning how one another work took some time, but what we discovered will only help us run more efficiently in the days to come. We saw about 57 individuals, mostly women and children, but several men too. We gave out several pairs of eyeglasses and distributed medication for gastritis, aches and pains, and administered antibiotics. Some of us were also welcomed into homes to see patients' family members that we unable to come to the clinic. Our providers described it as humbling and saw it as a privilege to be invited into these local homes. The people were patient and friendly as we aimed to give the best quality care. We closed up the clinic around 4, having seen everyone in line.
We grabbed an ice cream treat at Parma dairy factory afterwards and headed back to San Lucas for a quick rest and a chicken and baked potato dinner at the mission. We were able to decompress and reflect on our day, and offer suggestions as to how we can make a great clinic day an even better one tomorrow!