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Investigación de Médicos/Corpus Christi/Machu Picchu June 13, 2012

Posted by ashapiro6 in Travel Log.
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Three of the most memorable and meaningful experiences happened just this week. First, the final project: I always knew the people of Cuzco were very friendly, but I didn’t fully appreciate it until my group was able to find doctors easily willing to take the time to give us

Famous Catedral de Plaza de Armas, with an assortment of the statues that processed that day. See the giant pole in the middle? I thought it was cool that this ancient tradition integrated modernity a bit, with all the old prayers said into a microphone and amplified by those speakers.

their perspective on Peru’s healthcare system. They talked about huge problems here with the culture clash between urban and rural areas, and especially indigenous and non-indigenous populations, where there are significant differences in medical knowledge (some didn’t know to wash their hands!). People also focus on earning lots of money and eating big macs, like the lifestyle they see on TV, but

health is no longer the priority on which people spend their money. We found not just doctors but multiple American volunteers here. These were pre-med students like me, with less experience in Spanish and very little knowledge about the culture here, who were still allowed to do stitches and vaginal examinations! Many volunteers are here to discover if medicine is really what they want to study, which is great but unfortunately it is a huge drain on the time and effort of the other doctors here, in order to train the volunteers and rotate them so they see every aspect of the medicine one could study. I could go on about this information forever, but basically it was a huge eye opener for me as a future volunteer doctor. It is certainly a hard task organizing effective international aid, but I was surprised that I personally could think of easy ways to improve the kinks in the system we found through this investigation. I couldn’t be more grateful though for all the help we were able to find- on Tuesday we visited the Municipalidad de Wanchaq (city hall), Centro Médico de Wanchaq (government hospital?), and Class Ttio (hospital

Corpus Christi Procession – filled with people of all ages and all the colegios around here.

full of American volunteers), none of which I would’ve had the confidence to check had I not been here with Georgia Tech Study Abroad.

This Thursday was Corpus Christi, the biggest festival we’ll get to see while we’re here, which the city’s been preparing for the entire week- there’s been dancing and traditional costumes out in Plaza de Armas all week. In this tradition, Cuzco brings out giant statues of all the important saints of the Catholic faith, and all these saints plus bunches of people process around the Plaza de

Armas, accompanied by prayers shouted in loudspeakers and singing. I also got to try the traditional dish called chiriuchu, which contained cuy (yes I finally ate a guinea pig!), some type of seaweed, chicken, dried cow meat, cheese, and dry corn seeds, among

much more. My host family didn’t know why these foods specifically on Corpus Christi, so now I’m still curious- I guess it’s just tradition. It was really interesting to see the entire city gathered at Plaza de Armas- it sort of reminded me of a Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade, or maybe a high school football game. People were somewhat watching the ceremony, but not as seriously as I

Machu Picchu’s Observatory: Supposedly when the top of the rock lines up with the sun a certain way, this is a signal that it is the Winter or Summer Solstice.

had thought they would be- there were children running around everywhere, people selling things as usual, and people with their backs turned to the entire thing but simply talking with friends, enjoying the sunshine, and eating random things. I had fun though taking pictures of

everything. The statues were half as tall as the actual cathedral from which they came, and they were very elaborately decorated with fabric sewn together with gold and silver designs.

Of course, Machu Picchu speaks for itself. The descent up there took most of the day on Saturday but it was well worth it as the trail we hiked on suddenly opened up into one of the seven wonders of the world. The site contained many sacred Incan symbols that we had learned about the first week of class, so it was cool to see those up close. It also had an observatory, where they were able to piece together their calendar system, which was very similar to the one we use today. On Sunday morning I woke up at

4:50 AM to return to the site to see the sun rise. That’s something I could never

That down there is Machu Picchu, seen from the near top of Huayna Picchu. Wow.

fully capture in a picture. The mountains block the sky’s change from dark to pink to light, but it didn’t block the sun’s rays gradually

covering more of the site as the sun continued to rise. We could actually see the rays traveling from our right, where the sun was sitting, over to our left, where there were several mountains on which the light could fall. Once it finally poked out of the mountain range on our right, it made those mountains sparkle. So cool! That day we were also able to hike Huayna Picchu, the giant mountain that you always see in the pictures of Machu Picchu. It was huge, and it took 2 hours to climb up, but once we did Machu Picchu looked like a tiny speck on the ground below. It was well worth the view of the entire world when we got to the top, although it was definitely a dangerous adventure to get up there.

It was also a great celebration to the end of the hardest chunk of classwork. Next week marks the last in Cuzco and the beginning (technically) of the third and last GT Spanish class. It’s weird now thinking of the last things I’d like to do before the week runs out – but I’ll definitely make the most of it.