It is June 2015 and I’m riding in the smallest of cars on a highway leading out of Barranquilla, Colombia. I’m in the car with an epidemiologist from the state health department, and we are on our way to a place far from the city in a small town in the jungle. The temperature outside must be in the triple…
All good things must come to an end. Change is constant. It’s inevitable. My adventure in Colombia has come to an end, and it was good. I’ve learned a lot about how public health is done here, and I’ve learned a lot about myself. The homesickness and feeling of dread was worth it.
There are places in the world that, given the right circumstances, come to be known as “paradise.” A place with palm trees full of coconuts and mango trees everywhere, right next to a big river and an hour from the beach should be such a place… Except that it isn’t.
What happens when you apply labels to people? Some of them fight back. Others learn to live with them. And others strive to change them.
Remember that feeling you got when you were thrown into a seemingly impossible situation, far from all your friends and family, far from all your comforts? I had that feeling for a few days at the beginning of this adventure. Even now, 20 days in, I get the feeling from time to time. But I’ve adapted. I’ve come to understand that different people in different cultures may or may not do things differently. We’re all people. Here are some thoughts of the last three weeks and how my brain has come to let me understand how things work here, and come to terms with them.
If we know that mosquitoes spread disease, then what do we need to combat them and the diseases they spread? Do we need material resources to have environmental controls? Or do we need knowledge to know how to prevent them from establishing reservoirs? These are the questions in my head.
Colombia, Day 15: In which I join a group of public health workers in the heat, going house-to-house looking for cases of Chikungunya and other diseases. Also, vaccines… And a puppy.
I started telling you about the upcoming lecture, and how I probably ruined a kid’s dreams of being a physician in the United States. But then I somehow went on to tell you about what I’ll do to retire… Oh, and about microscopes and telescopes.
Three quick minutes to tell you why my Spanish is not too good nowadays, though my mother demanded that I speak it well. Actually, I think my English is better than Spanish… Written, anyway.
As always, you can download the whole thing by clicking here.
I remember watching a news broadcast about a photographer for one of those big, international magazines who was at a refugee camp in Darfur. He said he always brought a bottle of Tabasco sauce with him because it made everything taste better. He also said that he made it a habit to eat whatever the refugees were eating, not wanting…