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Day 6

 

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Wednesday, July 20

MORNINGS
A most rewarding week continues in San Juan de la Maguana, Dominican Republic. Each night at the guest house, we fall asleep to the sound of cackling roosters and awaken to coffee that not only turns your engine over, but presses down your gas pedal. Our gracious hosts have prepared meals for us every day, which surprisingly have maintained their vegan-friendliness. The pineapples are succulent, the bananas are abundant, and the soft drinks are delectable—it is true, real sugar is way better.
 
THE MARKET
Before dispersing to our assigned villages, we visited an open market in downtown San Juan. This is where we learned that, here, cars and cycles truly own the road. The roads are no place for walking, not even for a mob of two dozen people searching for sidewalk real estate. We were swept off a narrow road by a man who enjoyed doing pushups on his horn. The market was at least a city block in size, and the walkways were tented with tarps. What did we see? Countless clusters of bananas still hanging from tree stalks, giant bags of rice and legumes, mountainous piles of clothes and shoes, toys, watches, dishes, and even silverware. A great deal of the merchandise was not brand new, like one might expect. Instead, clothes and shoes are resold and re-worn until they cannot be worn again. Likewise, many of the fresh fruits and vegetables picked from local farms were not the prettiest-looking, but nothing is wasted. This experience is a great reminder for us all.
 
OUR MISSION
Today was the third day of our mission to supply aid to individuals who have little means to help themselves. Once again, we set up three stations at a nearby school—triage, physician consultation, and pharmacy. Patients enter, triage records their name, age, and vitals; patient history is then collected to help the physician make a sound diagnosis; the patient receives a diagnosis from the physician, and if anything can be treated, the patient visits the mobile pharmacy to receive medication. Many patients exhibited high blood pressure and came seeking refills, which we were able to provide. All children received free vitamins and were urged to stay well-hydrated. Many thanks to our group of interpreters for making seamless communication with patients possible.
 
THE DOMINICAN RED LIGHT
For dinner, we all ate together at a nearby family-style restaurant for some Dominican fried delicacies. After three exhausting days of providing health care and evening fellowship, it certainly feels like we are one large family now—all operating together for a common goal. Following dinner, we piled into pickup trucks and navigated to an ice cream shop. Here, we witnessed firsthand the “Dominican Red Light.” Visit our Facebook page to watch the footage and decide how many traffic tickets should have been written. The car horn has become a universal form of communication to express a medley of different emotions the world over. American drivers use their horn to make strong suggestions and to substitute explicatives. However, in San Juan, the car horn is a claim of leadership. For instance, the horn often means “This is my intersection and I’m driving this car through it whether you like it or not, so I would stop if I were you.” Stop signs in the Dominican say “PARE”, but after our fun ride back to the guest house in the back of a pickup truck through the streets of San Juan, the eleven of us decided that the stop signs should read “BUENOS SUERTE”, which means good luck...because you are going to need it to get home!

—Jonathan Michelsen
Sophomore, Pharmacy
Hudson, Ohio