Archive for quyenphan

A Peruvian Adventure

by Julie Pizzat, ABSN ’19

Welcome back to the blog! This is part 2/2 detailing our ABSN journey to Peru.

Day 7: CerviCusco and Pisco

Friday, we stayed at CerviCusco and helped out in the lab as well as the clinic. Since the clinic wasn’t very busy, we were done with Pap smears (“examen del Papanicolau”) and biometric tests by lunchtime, so we headed to La Plaza de Armas to explore some more. We had some great burgers (including veggie options!) at Papacho’s and then stopped by the Museo del Pisco to learn how to make our own Pisco sours. Our bartenders/instructors were very helpful and played fun music while we relaxed after a long week. We headed back to the clinic for dinner and went to bed early to prepare for our big day on Saturday—Machu Picchu!

Day 8: Machu Picchu

Machu Picchu archaeological site

Saturday, we were out the door by 6am to take our first bus of the day—our amigo Jesus was back to guide us throughout the day with a new friend, Jennifer, serving as our second guide. We took the bus to Ollantaytambo and then boarded a beautifully scenic train to the town of Aguas Calientes. Part of the Inca Trail parallels the train route, so we saw some hikers along the way, as well as more of the Urubamba River and surrounding mountains. Once in Aguas Calientes, we boarded another bus that took us on a winding and bumpy road up the mountain to the entrance of Machu Picchu. Jesus and Jennifer brought us inside the site and we saw the extensive terraces and remnants of the Inca civilization. We saw various levels of Machu Picchu, from the Inca Bridge to the Temple of the Sun. Apparently, it isn’t explicitly clear why the Incas left Machu Picchu, but some people believe the citizens experienced a natural disaster (such as an earthquake) and saw it as a sign from their gods to vacate the site, even though it was still under construction. We also learned while touring the site that the mountain seen in the background of most pictures of Machu Picchu is called Huayna Picchu (“young mountain”); the mountain, Machu Picchu (“old mountain”), is actually on the opposite side of the archeological site, often behind the viewer. The site sits in the shadow of Machu Picchu, the taller of the two mountains, and that is how the site got its current name. The original Incan name of the site is technically still unknown. Jesus told us all of this and more as we walked around the city and marveled at the architecture and the scenery surrounding us. Once our tour was over, we went to lunch at a nearby restaurant and then took a bus down the mountain back to Aguas Calientes. We had some free time there until our train left, so people split up and explored by shopping or going to the hot springs. Around 6pm we boarded our train home, climbed into our bus at Ollantaytambo, and were back at the clinic by 11pm. It was a long day, but everyone enjoyed the experience of Machu Picchu!

Day 9: Free Day

Sunday was our free day of the trip, and the majority of our group decided to participate in a private cooking class with a local chef in Cusco. The chef took them to the market where they bought the ingredients for their meal and then returned to the kitchen where they learned how to make Palta rellena (stuffed avocado), Lomo saltado (sautéed beef), Pisco sours, and homemade chocolates for dessert. 
Another group decided to hike Rainbow Mountain instead, waking up very early (before most of Cusco had even gone to sleep!) and taking a bus several hours outside of town to the trail site. After a challenging hike, they reached the summit and although there was snow on the landscape, it was still a magnificent view.
Everyone met up later for dinner at Limbus, a restaurant/bar with a great view of the city, and went to bed to prepare for our final day of service on Monday.

Day 10: The Final Campaña

Monday, we had our final campaign just outside of Cusco where we once more performed Pap smears, blood sugar, and blood pressure testing for our patients. There was a good turnout and several lucky students held some children while their moms underwent procedures.

After our service was finished, we presented the CerviCusco staff with gifts of our appreciation and took one final group picture. Some people went back to the plaza and San Pedro market to do some last-minute shopping, while others went home and began packing to leave the next day. We had one last dinner together at the clinic followed by a debriefing session to discuss our trip and our group project, and just like that, our time in Cusco was over. 

Our final group picture, including (L to R): Sam Phelan, Dr. Quyen Phan, Lexi Bradford, Alyssa Alias, Rachel Swart, Meredith Owens, Kelli Carlson, Julie Pizzat, Warren Gray, Lillie Russo, Erin Parker, Carson Gastil, Jacqlyn McKinnon, Mariel Box, Emily Gholson, CerviCusco staff, Alexa Bernstein, Pherrari Roy, Claire Pierson, Claudia Bellido, Dr. Lisa Thompson, and Dr. Weihua Zhang

Day 11: Traveling Tuesday

Tuesday was our travel day, and we made our way home starting bright and early. The new volunteer coordinator, Alyssa, saw us off at the airport and was waiting there to pick up the next group of volunteers arriving later that day. We all made it back to Atlanta safely (albeit later than expected thanks to a few delays), ready to get some rest before starting classes again on Monday. 
The past 10 days provided an amazing experience of Peru’s culture and history, and the experiences we had here will stay with us for years to come. Thank you to CerviCusco for being so welcoming and educational, to our wonderful instructors – Dr. Phan, Dr. Zhang, and Dr. Thompson – for guiding us throughout our time here, to the Lillian Carter Center for organizing this trip, and to my fellow classmates who made this journey as memorable as the adventure itself. 

¡Adiós, Peru, y muchas gracias!

¡Bienvenidos a Peru!

By Julie Pizzat, ABSN ’19

Day 1: A Jaunt Through the Airport

We made it to Cusco! 17 hours, lots of water, and a tight connection later, we were ready to take a long nap and get acquainted with our host clinic, CerviCusco, and our host city, Cusco! After some unpacking, we went to La Granja and enjoyed a Peruvian special, Pollo a la Brasa—roasted chicken. Afterwards, we went to the store to grab some food and tucked into bed around 8:30 PM. Day 1 complete!

Day 2: Sacred Valley

What a day! We had a long day of exploring many aspects of Peruvian culture in the Sacred Valley outside of Cusco. Our amigos (guides and drivers) for the day were Jesus, Denis, and Pierro. Our day started bright and early at 7AM with a departure to Chinchero for a weaving demonstration. We were greeted with hot tea and blankets and three women showed us how they washed and spun alpaca wool into thin soft fibers and then described the different meanings of colors used in their textiles. They also used different natural materials to dye the fibers, and demonstrated how they could change the color using other materials (for example, red wool was changed to orange with the addition of lime juice to the color mixture). After the demonstration, we shopped at their market and went on our way to our next destination, Moray. We saw three different terrace circles ranging in size and location. Jesus explained that the Incans used these terraces to test the resiliency of crops and to acclimate them to grow at different altitudes.

Tunupa Restaurant near Ollantaytambo
Different colored wool and their dye sources

Next, we ventured to Maras; this is where we saw all of the salt terraces and salt miners harvesting their salt. Jesus told us that this was the only Incan site that was still functioning as it was when the Incans used it. We walked through the salt mines to Tunupa Restaurant, a beautiful buffet by the river. Everyone enjoyed their food, especially Ceviche and Pisco Sours (a Peruvian cocktail). Our last stop for the day was Ollantaytambo, a small town with an outdoor market and Incan ruins high on the surrounding mountains. We climbed up to the temple of the sun and saw the granary on the opposite mountain, marveling at how these stones were transported up so high. Apparently, the stones came from a different mountain from across the valley and the Incans moved the stones across the river by diverting it upstream of the stones! The creativity and ingenuity of the Incan people was very evident from seeing all of these different sites and traditions still in use and on display today. Today was so educational and fun thanks to our amigos and the people of the Sacred Valley carrying on traditions and welcoming us with open arms. 

Day 3: Beginning our Work with CerviCusco

Today we went to downtown Cusco and set up a health campaign in a municipal office. We performed blood pressures, blood sugar checks, and pap smears. Many women were interested in the availability of the pap tests, which is important because of the high prevalence of cervical cancer among Peruvian women. It was also great to see the community interested in free biometric tests (blood pressure and blood sugar) to be aware of their health status. Interestingly, I’ve noticed that many food ads and labels in Peru have warning ads concerning the level of sugar and fat in them, prompting consumers to be more aware of their dietary needs. While we were downtown, many people were involved in the Inti Raimi celebration in the main square, so they were passing by in colorful costumes. It was great collaborating with our instructors, med students, and the physician from CerviCusco to bring care to the community. After working for several hours, we went home and had a lovely dinner of Lomo Saltado (sautéed beef) and got ready for the next day of work.

Day 4: Cusco Campaign Day 2

Tuesday, we returned to the municipal office near downtown Cusco, again taking blood pressures, blood sugars, and performing pap smears. We were done around lunchtime and had time to explore the city on our own. All of the students decided to go to a restaurant our guide Jesus had recommended and it was delicious! Most of us also shared a local delicacy—guinea pig (Cuey) and after that we split up to explore Cusco more. Some people went to San Pedro market and the others went to San Marco art district. In San Marco, we shopped and got to see a beautiful vista of the entire city. For dinner, the group reconvened at a different location of Tunupa restaurant (in La Plaza de Armas) for Pisco Sours, another great buffet, and live music and folk dancing. We even joined in with dancing, and the band loved us!

Day 5: Small Groups

Wednesday, we split up into two groups; one half of us went to Urubamba on another campaign for pap smears, blood glucose, and blood pressure. The other half of us went to a retirement community run by a local Catholic mission. We provided foot care, assisted with serving lunch, and feeding the residents. Even though our tasks were more focused on daily care rather than biometric or diagnostic procedures, it was wonderful to serve the residents in whatever way we could. I felt even through helping with something as simple as foot care we were helping these women feel cared for and comforted. Nursing is holistic, and caring for people in every circumstance reflects the versatility and the importance of the profession.

Day 6: More small groups!

Today we split up again, with half of us going to Urubamba for another campaign and the other half taking the morning off. The bus ride was scenic and we got to see more of the stunning mountains surrounding Cusco. There was a good turnout and we did almost 75 blood pressures and blood sugar checks! Our entire group (including med students and PA students) did over 50 Pap smears. Through the campaign, women only had to pay 3 soles for the Pap smears as opposed to 20 soles they would pay to go to the clinic. It was great to see that the clinic could help overcome the financial and transportation barriers to care they might face otherwise. The other group went to the Cristo Blanco overlook via taxi and saw Cusco from there, then walked down to San Blas for lunch. Our group left Urubamba around 1:00 to go back to the clinic so the rest of our group could go to an orphanage in Cusco. There, students met the founder of the orphanage and he explained that he wanted to have a home with open doors that would support and raise these children. Our students played soccer against the residents (and lost!) but had a great time overall. People who didn’t go to the orphanage hiked up to another vista near the clinic and saw some great views of the city and the sunset. We had dinner at the clinic again and are now going to bed to prepare for the tomorrow. I can’t believe we only have 5 days left in Peru!