I am still trying to organize myself to understand how things work here. This includes when children go to school (usually just half days and only if they don’t protest or have other work to do), when other people go to work (this is entirely dependant on what kind of work people do and what growing or harvesting season it is), and especially how the health clinics and hospital operate. I felt that I was on my way to understanding this until July hit. July marks two rather important events that affect the work schedules of almost everywhere in Moyogalpa. The first is July 19, the day of the Sandinista Revolution the second being that July is the month of Moyogalpa’s Fiesta Patronale. What this meant for me is that my work schedule at the hospital was completely off. I did receive notice that the hospital would be closed for July 19. I found that out as I was leaving work the week before and was telling some nurses I would see them next week and they told me no as the hospital would be closed. Before people get too worried about an entire hospital closing, it is closed for general consults, administration, special follow-ups (pregnancy, pediatric, dentist), pharmacy and the laboratory. Similar to during the night, there is still someone who works for the Ministry of Health, one doctor, and a nurse on shift to attend to emergencies. As I had an impromptu day off I met Tabby and some of the family for breakfast at the Cornerhouse, and she managed to convince Gary to let us have Laura for the day to have a surprise visit to Ojo del Agua. We got the kids ready and picked up Angela and then spent the day splashing about the pools.
After a relaxing mid-week day off I was ready for work on Wednesday. I arrive on time for rounds, and wait. Then I wait some more. A few people ask me if I am seeing patients that day, and as this often happens I don’t think much of it. I ask if we are waiting for rounds and the attending doctor answers maybe, and then asks if the girls who work in admissions are in. I tell her I will check and when I return to tell her they aren’t she informs me that the hospital is closed again and so administration doesn’t come in. Needless to say I have been talking with her and a few others for close to 40 minutes at this point. After being unable to locate charts or oja’s (papers used to keep track of patients seen in a day) it was decided that I would be more of use at the office. At least I would be able to meet Michelle, an intern from NCNM that was coming to work with NDI for 2 weeks. Michelle and I are kept busy with patients in Los Angeles the days we work there. By the next week we have our first hospital day, which unfortunately falls on the day after the big fiesta in Moyogalpa. As such the hospital is closed, again. This time we come prepared with oja’s and decide to work off the chart sheets that the doctors use during turnos. Unfortunately no patients come in, we can barely rustle any up from the staff that seem to be milling about or family of in-patients so by the afternoon we call it a day and do office work. Wednesday proves to be busier and it is great having Michelle to help me in the clinic and all the patients seem to enjoy having two people to chat with. Also Wednesday we decided to do a turno, and so we work from 8 am to 5 pm seeing our own patients, then stay through the night until the end of rounds at 9 the next morning. It was a fairly busy turno shift, and it was especially nice to have someone to chat with when things got quiet which happens usually between 7-10 pm and 2-4 am. Thursday was my last day working with Michelle, even though it was only in the office, as I was taking some time off as I had very special visitors coming. I really enjoyed having someone to work with me, and Michelle was great to work with and to get to know during the down times.
As the rest of the town was celebrating it seemed only fitting that I should join in, especially to expand my cultural experience. Also it had been brought to Tabby’s attention that I had been in Nicaragua for 6 months and yet to experience a Fiesta Patronale. So on the weekend we made our way to Alta Gracia where one of Angela’s uncles was hosting a Fiesta Patronale, complete with a parade, a band, fake bulls and then meals and gifts for attendants. On our way back some of us found our way onto the truck and our way to the ‘toros’, a much different bull-riding event than what I am used to from back home. Then it was back home to get ready to go out with the family for the big concert by Gustavo Leyton and his ballerinas, which some have likened to booty-shaking Spanish polka. Sunday proved to be quiet, even though I could hear the fiesta late into the evening from my bedroom, but Monday was the big night.
Monday on my way home from Los Angeles I was stuck in horse gridlock following the ‘parade’, where most are on horseback following a statue of the patron saint, complete with traditional dancers and fireworks (usually just M80 types that make sounds but no pretty lights). Once I got home and changed it was time once again to join the family for the fiesta where we managed to stay on the dance floor until the very end, only little Neyeli left before the music stopped. The next night was somewhat the end for the traditional fiesta aspect and I was once again invited by the family to spend it with them. We watched traditional dancers, the procession with the statue, men dress up as a cardboard bull with firecrackers sparking of their backs run into the crowd from the church steps. The evening ended with a spectacular array of fireworks for about 20 minutes, sparkler volcanoes at the church entrance and then my first time eating a quesillo (tortilla filled with cream, onions and chili sauce).