Monday, January 12, 2009

Cleopatra Is Alive in Jamaica

Events of Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Location: Jamaica

I slept great. 50 mg of Benadryl is WONDERFUL! I am oblivious to goats, roosters, dogs, and people. Life is good.

Today, I will spend the first half of the day assisting the cook in the dorm. My first assignment - to go with George, one of our 2 local guides, to the local market to find butter. Sounds easy, right? Here in the States, we'd jump in our automobile and drive to the nearest Price Chopper or HyVee. Well, they do things differently in Falmouth, Jamaica. We don't have a car, so George gets his "pushcart" and we walk to the local market.

George's pushcart is a unique contraption. He is not alone in owning one - I notice dozens of these all around the streets of town. George insists that I sit on the pushcart while he pushes me through the streets of town. Mind you, there are automobiles whizzing by us as we roll down the street. However, the looks I get from some of the Jamaicans are priceless. I realize that I must look like a white Cleopatra, on her barge, rolling through the streets of town. I want to get off the pushcart, but George will not allow it. He feels I am safer on the cart where he can see me...I can't get into trouble this way. He knows me well.

Anyway, we visit the first supermarket (I use the term loosely - it is the size of my bedroom) - and no butter. Darn. Roll on down to the 2nd supermarket - same story. No butter. This is pretty strange for me - I'm not used to not being able to find something as simple as butter. The things we take for granted in the States. It is not until the 3rd store that we have success and find butter. Our search for a stick of butter has taken 45 minutes.

Lunch consists of a Juici Patty. No trip to Jamaica can be complete without sampling a Juici Patty. This is the McDonald's of Jamaica - but they don't serve hamburgers...they serve a "hot pocket" stuffed with beef, chicken or veggies cooked in a sauce. The franchise has been around for over 25 years - and the line is long to partake of these interesting delicacies. I find the crust to be amazingly tasty and flaky - but the beef is a little spicy for me. I don't know that I will eat another patty. Oh well. I tried. I'll stick with the goat.

After lunch, I am back working in the clinic. Today, I get to work in "intake". My job: I bring the patient into the room, take their chart, ask them why they're here, document what they say, take their height & weight, and document that, as well. There is a nurse in intake, as well, who then takes blood pressures and sticks their fingers for the blood sugar testing. The nurse decides I need to learn to do these things, as well - and so I get to do my first finger stick. My first one is a little nerve-wracking, but by the end of the day, I'm sticking fingers like there's no tomorrow. I also learn how to do blood pressures. On my first successful blood pressure reading, there are high fives all around with me and the patients. They celebrate my success along with me - I'm feeling like a real nurse.

Gee - yesterday, I mastered pharmacy. Today, I mastered nursing. Tomorrow, I think I should tackle brain surgery. Ha.

For dinner, another new food to sample: ackee. Ackee is the national fruit of Jamaica - and is delicious. We mixed it up with codfish - I would eat this again! I can tell I'm not going to lose any weight on this mission trip, darn it.

After dinner, we have an adventure planned. We load up on a boat and head out to the "Luminous Lagoon". The Luminous Lagoon is one of Jamaica's natural wonders - it's home to microscopic organisms that emit a phosphorescent light when the water is disturbed. It's very dark when we arrive at the lagoon. When we jumped into the water, we saw an eerie light illuminating the swimmers as well as the waters below. We're literally glowing in the dark! The water was very cold, but the effects were outstanding!
(Image from

After a brisk swim in the ocean, it doesn't feel as hot tonight when I sleep. I take another 50 mg of Benadryl - I can get used to this stuff. Sleep.


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