After the chaos of the visa run calmed down it was time to prepare for the next brigade, which just happened to be my alma mater. I was excited to have some more fellow Canadians here for a while, and to see what some mutual friends who are still at BINM were up to. It would also be the first time I would join Tony to meet the brigade at the airport and bring them to the island. The trip started off a bit late as the lancha (a smaller, less luxe ferry) we were going to take was late, making us miss the express bus to Managua. We headed into Rivas to find the next bus, which happened to be a typical ´safety-first´ bus with the entire drivers side of the windshield broken.
After spending the night at Backpackers hotel, we made our way to the airport to wait for the brigade. Turns out we had the majority from BINM and one from CCNM. The other flight arrived and it seemed the students were taking a while to come out of the baggage claim. Later we found out it was because one of the students was missing her luggage. Tony got the others organized and things ready to go to MINSA while I did my best to help locate the missing luggage and make sure we had contacts to get a hold of the airline. On the way to the ferry we found ourselves in a traffic jam throughout Managua and with a flat tire just outside of Rivas, but managed to catch the big ferry to San Jose. Tabby and Angela met us at the dock and brought the tired travelers to Los Angeles so they could get settled in to the homestays.
The start of the brigade brought a few surprises, the first being that the airline had found the missing luggage, which had been mistakenly taken by another traveler and the other being a birthday card from home ND10 style. I want to say thank you to everyone who sent me well wishes in the card, and especially to the cards sender as it was a huge surprise. I really enjoyed this brigade, the group was great and there was a real unique blend of experience including a nurse and an acupuncturist. It was really interesting for me to be on the other side of a brigade with students from the school I graduated from and brought a lot of memories from my first trip down here. We saw a lot of patients each day in the clinic and the variety of cases never ceased. As there always is, we had a few cases that really showcased the challenges of working in this remote community. Patients would come needing wound cleaning and care, emergency referrals, further testing that they couldn’t afford or broad diagnoses that were challenging to treat or to explain with accuracy to the patients.
This was the first brigade since the Chiro/ ND mix in May and it was interesting to see how everyone responded to the classes on globalization and the effects that politics play on health. I always learn a lot during brigades, both in the clinic and during the classes, as everyone brings their own experiences to share and has knowledge and clinical pearls that have passed down from others. As it also happened to be Laura’s birthday during the week of the brigade I decided to try my hand at baking and with my mom’s help the vegan chocolate cupcakes made their Nicaraguan debut to celebrate the occasion.