Last week, after a couple under my belt, I had finally gotten settled in at the hospital. Things were going smoothly, even boring at times. I was confident in doing everything asked of me in Pediatrics, teaching English was becoming routine, and I was making friends with other students and workers at the hospital. Some days were even somewhat boring, especially in the context of my exciting day in the operating room from the last post I made. Nicaragua always does have something new to teach me though, whether I’m looking for it or not. It could be a new word in Spanish, new responsibilities in preparing medications for patients, or another new food that the nurses offer me. I always have my notebook in hand to jot down Spanish medical terms to define later, noteworthy conversations with a doctor or the parent of a patient, and things I learn about the unique Nicaraguan healthcare system.
But just when I was getting accustomed to it, the hospital made me sick. It was just a small stomach virus, nothing debilitating and something that plenty of foreigners get a piece of just by stepping foot in Nicaragua. I was lucky I had made it this far without anything worse, especially in such a crowded hospital. Several of the Nicaraguan nurses who I teach also got sick last week. So, at their encouragement and the hospital’s approval, I took a few days off and quickly planned a trip to Costa Rica.
It’s only one country away and doesn’t look too far on a map but my destination of San Ramon turned out to be a 13 hour taxi-to-microbus-to-bus-to-taxi-to-bus-to-taxi affair. I’ll spare my readers the breath-taking details of travelling there and back. Aside from my well-hidden nervousness in going it alone and some communication hiccups with the bus company, the trip was wonderful. San Ramon was where I ended up because I had friends there, one a volunteer for the summer and others on a short-term mission trip for the week. While sight-seeing a little bit with these amigos, it was impossible not to compare what I had been experiencing in Nicaragua with what I saw in Costa Rica. Several major notes I made was the price difference (much higher in Costa Rica, at least for daily things like food and transportation) and the tourism influence in Costa Rica (many bilingual or English signs, US restaurant chains, fancy resorts). I also made a potentially valuable and serendipitous contact on the busride back to Nicaragua: another senior pre-med student from the states who’s interning at a hospital in Nicaragua! She’s only a couple hours away from Leon (where I am) and so I may be scheming up another trip in the near future, this time to add some diversity to my Nicaragua healthcare research.
I picked up where I left off at the hospital this week, my visit to the land of the ticos leaving me rested and mostly free of my stomach issues. As usual, the hospital and my host family are presenting me with full and often unpredictable days that end with me collapsing in bed. And I’ll give in to the bed’s calls tonight and save this week’s details for my next blog installment.