Peru, The Medical Network
"Expectations were nowhere near reality in regards to my adventure to Peru. During my time in this wonderful country, I explored the capital city of Lima during Palm Sunday, ventured into the Amazons, learned about ancient civilizations, trekked the Peruvian Andes above 15,000 ft and surfed the beautiful Peruvian coast. As an outdoorsy, social butterfly, I found a bounty of opportunities and with that awesome companions with similar interests. Every weekend was a new travel adventure, but everyday in Peru was a gift. I lived with an incredible host family, Antonio and Betty, as well as their house aide Pena and their adorable dog Ringo. On the weekdays, I worked either at EsSalud Albrecht Hospital or on a medical campaign providing free community health followed by Medical Spanish lessons in the afternoon. Afterwards, we grabbed dinner as a group, attended salsa or yoga classes, or explored the city.
"During these adventures, I was exposed to various Peruvian cultures and customs. I had a conversation with several frustrated citizens regarding immigration from Venezuela, met a family that believed in using guinea pigs and eggs to identify illnesses and became accustomed to kissing cheeks of people I barely knew. In villages located in the sierras and the jungle, access to health care is difficult if not impossible. In these situations, the community resorts to herbal medications, teas and tradition. It was in this setting that I learned about the custom of rubbing a black guinea on every part of the body followed by sacrificing and performing an autopsy on the guinea pig. Based on the energy transferred from the patient to the guinea pig, any injury found in the guinea pig would be the issue in the patient. Additionally, guinea pig is a common dish in these areas known as cuy. Not my favorite dish, but I can cross it off my bucket list.
"Lastly, my fellow companions were an important part of this trip. It was by chance all our roads crossed in Peru, but we made the most of the time we had together. While our group was in constant flux, I befriended 3 fellow Philadelphians from Temple and Jefferson as well as more than a dozen other people either in medical school, residency or physical therapy. This rowdy crowd accompanied me on all my adventures. Together, we struggled learning medical Spanish, celebrated our accomplishments and embraced each other on our final night. Our squad will never again have a chance like this, but the memories we share will travel with each of us.
"If there are any hesitations concerning traveling to Peru, put them aside. I recommend everyone who wants to travel, explore new terrain and cultures, and meet incredible people to visit Peru and see it for yourself.
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