As our journey in Guatemala comes to a close tomorrow, it is very appropriate to spend some time reflecting on the experiences we have had throughout the week. Spending each day in the clinic working with the people of the community was an experience that is not easily explainable to those who have not had the same experience. Not only was working in the clinic a wonderful opportunity to learn from our amazing physicians and healthcare professionals, it was also a great learning experience about the culture and lifestyle of the people in Patanatic and the surrounding areas. The extreme gratitude expressed by the people in the community was a very nice reminder there are many things in our lives that we take for granted, like access to quality healthcare. When looking at the problems the people in the Pantanatic community face each day makes many of the problems in our life seem much smaller and less important which provides us the opportunity to reflect on our lives and see how much we have been blessed with.
One of the most influential experiences during the time at the clinic was traveling to the homes in the community to make sure their water filtration system was working properly. In order to get to the homes, we had to travel up the mountain which was not a small task. Traveling the hills in Patanatic makes all of the hills in Cincinnati look very small. It is amazing how the people travel up and down the mountain every day in nothing more than sandals. Once we reached the top of the mountain, we began entering homes to check their filtration system. Having clean water is something we take for granted in the United States but to hear that they did not have any water to put in their filters since it has not rained for a while hit hard. Not only do they have to filter their water which makes it fairly clean, they do not have access to water when it has not rained in a while since there is not enough pressure in the pipes to provide access to the water. Seeing the condition of the houses and the lack of access to water allowed me to see a little into the lives of the people in Patanatic.
As our time in the clinic ended yesterday, we were given the opportunity today to experience other parts of Guatemala. This morning we traveled to Lake Atitlan where we took the opportunity to take a nice group photo with the three volcanoes in the background. Our view has been incredible throughout the entire trip, but being able to see all three volcanoes at one time was just breathtaking. As if that view was not incredible enough, we traveled to Iximche which is one the sites of Mayan ruins in the highlands of Guatemala. Our tour through this historical site was extremely helpful to understand the history of the site including the explanation of the five plazas and the structures we were seeing. Following our time at Iximche, we traveled to Antigua where we took a self guided walking tour. It was fascinating to learn the city was once the capital of Guatemala until the city was continually destroyed by earthquakes when the capital was then moved to Guatemala City which remains the capital today. Tonight we will share in a Shabbat dinner to help close out our time in Guatemala and remind us of the different cultures and beliefs of those around us and continue to encourage us to be open and supportive of those traditions and beliefs other than ours.