Lima is a city of almost 9 million people, and it seems that not one person works near where they live. Districts that long ago were separate little communities have grown into a smoggy urban sprawl. It should take 45 minutes to get from San Isidro, where the hotel is, to Collique, where the hospital is. But…it almost never does. On Friday, we experienced the trifecta of traffic: rush hour, Friday night, and an event at the downtown soccer stadium. There were broken down cars, closed lanes for construction, and many near misses. Henry, our fearless bus driver for the second year, never gets heated or flustered and always gets us there safely. On this crazy Friday, we even had surgeons and anesthesiologists out in the street directing traffic to get the bus through. As snarled as it always is, this one day was somehow tremendously worse. I drive in New York, Boston, Phoenix, Tel Aviv, and other assorted places…but I hope to never drive in Lima.
So, in true Peruvian fashion, our 5 pm departure got us to the hotel at 7:30, meaning that Helen, Richard and I could not go to the wonderful dinner that had been planned, but had to head directly to the airport according to the native Peruvians on the team. We grabbed a quick change of clothes, separated out our bags for New York, consisting of two giant anesthesia machines and two monitors, and sadly waved goodbye as our friends, new and old, headed off for some closure to the week and well deserved R n R.
In quick summary, over 70 children had surgery, a similar number had speech therapy and parent training, and about a dozen medical students had hands-on experiences with surgery, anesthesia, recovery room and of course, speech. Approximately 500 chickens and 200 pounds of rice, 80 avocados and 400 packets of snacks were consumed. OK, I made those last figures up, but we did eat a lot of chicken.
Ciao, Peru, mis pacientes, mis estudiantes y amigos. Cuidate Henry en el bus. Nos vemos en abril.