Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Work hard, play hard

Sunday, April 30

In the words of Wiz Khalifa, "Work hard, play hard". I think I can safely say that we embrace this mantra as physical therapy students and as people. We have been working our hardest to provide the greatest benefit to the physical therapists, patients, and community members in Antigua and the surrounding areas, so hard that Jennell had to remove her glasses because they wouldn't stay on her face. Yet when given the opportunity to play, we go just as hard. It's a fantastic life balance.

Before heading to our first stop, we had breakfast at a traditional Guatemalan restaurant called Chichoy. Here they have the most amazing pies made by women in the community. This began after the civil war when many women were left widowed. In order to survive, these women tried to sell goods along the road, yet they were unsuccessful. Once this restaurant opened and they began making pies for it, it was extremely beneficial for them.
Some of the most beautiful fruit we have ever seen.

Today we got to experience Iximche, Mayan ruins approximately an hour west of Antigua. Here our amazing tour guide, Hugo, taught us about the Mayan civilization, the influence of the Spanish Conquerors, and the collapse of much of the civilization due to illness and genocide from the Spanish. It was a humbling experience to be able to witness a Shaman performing a ritual for a man and his family at one of the locations of the ruins. Many weddings, rituals, and performances of the Mayan people happen here.
The group taking it all in.

In the afternoon, the majority of us went zip-lining around Lake Atitlan. The views were amazing and the rush of zip-lining had everyone smiling and laughing. Hugo once again had us all laughing with his antics on the zip-line. If you are ever in Guatemala, look up his company "Wild Guatemala". You will not be disappointed.
An obstacle course at the end of the zip-lining experience.

We walked around Panajachel after we were done. This town has a large market and one of the best "chicken burgers" we had ever had. The people were very friendly and some of us scored some serious deals on items for ourselves and our family/friends.

We capped the night off with catered dinner back at the house with everyone present. We were able to debrief from the weekend and share our experiences. Another successful day in the books.

Ali Serrani, UNC DPT '18

Sunday, April 29, 2018

Who hikes up an active volcano?

Last night we celebrated Bart's 25th birthday out in the city of Antigua. Before we headed out, we ate some Tres Leches cake at the house, which was incredible! We went to dinner at a nice restaurant and each of us shared how much we loved Bart. It was pretty emotional, haha! We then went out dancing as a group at a "discoteca" called Las Vibras. Super fun.
Tres Leches. Muy bien!

So much love in one room.
This morning, some of us went to hike Pacaya, one of the 37.5 volcanoes in Guatemala. This was an experience of a lifetime! We rode on top of the cars part way up the hike to save some time, and then began our trek up the lava-rock covered mountain. Our experience was very unique because after we began our trip, they stopped letting people come up the mountain due to the high activity of the volcano. Our tour guide, Hugo, was absolutely amazing and taught us so much about volcanoes, Guatemala, and Central America. We found out that they use dogs to alert them about potential eruption, which was interesting. Hugo said, "If the dogs are acting weird, run!" Ha!
Hot vent marshmallow, anyone?

Hugo and company setting up our delicious lunch.

We had lunch in the area of the 14th volcano of Pacaya, using the hot vents to toast our sandwiches and to roast marshmallows. Super delicious! We also had the opportunity to shop at the "Lava Store", a small hut that contained jewelry made by local artisans. They began doing this to support the local community after the massive eruption of Pacaya in 2010. Unforgettable experience.

Nat in deep thought in front of the active part of Pacaya (#17)

We named the dogs - Pickle, Dandelion, and Spot.

To get down the mountain, we skiied! For real, we skiied on our feet down the side of the mountain. Some of us were better at this task than others, but I won't name any names! :) Overall, this experience was amazing, unique, and unforgettable.

UNC takes on Pacaya.

Bart, Bria, Jennell, and Greg had some fun in Antigua while we were at the volcano. They wandered around the market, learning the ins and outs of negotiation. They then walked to multiple church ruins in the city. A photoshoot ensued, with Bart putting Bria "on fleek". Follow them on instagram for more insight on this "fleek" I am talking about. Ha.
The Church Ruins Crew - Bart, Jennell, Bria, and Greg

Stay tuned for more adventures of the UNC DPT third-years. We are pretty awesome.

Ali Serrani, DPT '18

Saturday, April 28, 2018

Clinic work in Pastores

Thursday, April 26

The other group that didn't go to the "school" went to a clinic in Pastores. Pastores is a small town outside of Antigua that is famous for its leather and boots. We passed at least 30 boot shops on our way to the clinic, with beautiful boots and other types of shoes on display.

We worked in the clinic seeing patients throughout the afternoon. Most of the patients had back and neck pain from their jobs, to which we provided education on proper workplace ergonomics and modifications that could be done to decrease these issues. We saw at least thirty patients this afternoon and it was an incredible experience to be able to help the communities of Pastores and others.

Hope you are enjoying following our trip!

Ali Serrani, UNC DPT '18

Carly and Bria work with a patient in Pastores

Bart gets a high five from one of the patients at the clinic.

Las Obras and other adventures

Thursday, April 26

Today was our first official day at Las Obras, a long term residential care facility for individuals with disabilities. Most residents at Las Obras have lived here their entire life after being dropped off shortly after birth or as young children. The lovely staff at Las Obras welcomed us with open arms and let us work with patients throughout the morning.

Most of the residents at Las Obras have severe mental and physical disabilities which provided a challenge for our creativity. Intervention primarily consisted of stretching, sitting balance, and simple ambulation. Even though the majority of patients could not communicate, the morning was full of smiles, singing, and laughs.

Following the morning at Las Obras, our team split into two groups for the afternoon. One group went to Ensename a Pescar and the other went to a clinic in Pastores, a nearby town.
My team went to Ensename a Pesca which turned out to be an experience to say the least. The "school" we showed up to to work at had become a construction zone. The school was no longer there. Instead, the head of the school took us to a shelter which was basically a cement floor covered by a roof. We later found out that Ensename a Pesca had recently been torn down by the government and the 71 children with disabilities that once went there no longer had a school to attend.

The building at Ensename a Pesca

Working with the community members

Outside of the facility

The day was still a success though! We were able to see around 20 patients who had traveled (walked) from all around the community seeking therapy. Communication was definitely difficult and the language barrier was extremely challenging, but it was comforting knowing that we were able to provide therapy to individuals who otherwise would never have been able to see a physical therapist.

Natalie Stein, UNC DPT '18

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Brillo de Sol School Experience

Kristin gets some love from Luna, the school's pet!
This afternoon we went to Brillo de Sol, a school for children with various disabilities and special needs in Antigua. We were welcomed by the students, teachers, principle, and the school pet - Luna!
We then split into groups of 3-4 and got to provide consultative Physical Therapy services to the children and their families. My group worked with a particularly sweet 17-year old on some lower body strengthening and gait training. Her mother appreciated our recommendations, and the patient ended the session with a "thank you" as she is currently learning English (and mentioned that she loves to dance - so that might be on the list of activities to do with her when we go back on Monday)!

Guneet and Dr. Karen McCulloch work with their patient on gait training.

Guneet Chawla, UNC DPT '18

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Spanish School Shenanigans

Future PTs in front of the Volcano outside our house!
This morning we had the pleasure of waking up to the sounds of a volcano around 5:00am. According to our Spanish Instructors, this is normal. For us, not so much! We were fortunate to be able to clearly view one of the three volcanoes prior to our walk to our Spanish lesson.

We broke up into groups according to prior Spanish training and current level of comfort with the language. Each group had a phenomenal experience with our instructors, leaving laughing about various conversations that ensued.
The view on our daily walk
View from the roof of the school.

Jennell and Bria were enjoying their time with their instructor, Ingrid, learning the ins and outs of party planning for Bart's birthday on Friday. They also conversed about the local music scene, schools, government, and live here in Antigua. Of course, Medical Spanish was discussed and practiced, which will be helpful in our coming days in the clinic, hospital, and schools.
Jennell, Ingrid, and Bria on the rooftop at the Spanish school.
Carly enjoyed the lighthearted-nature of their lesson, stating that their instructor enjoyed having a laugh at their attempts at speaking. She was able to remember some of the skills she learned in high school, which was very helpful.
Kristin, Grant, and Carly smile on a break from their lesson.
We left feeling ready for our first patient-care encounter in the afternoon. Stay tuned for a blog on this experience!

Ned, Kate, and Ali laugh with their instructor, Luis.
Fast friends with Luis.

Spanish school set up. Super beneficial!

Hasta Luego,
Ali Serrani, UNC DPT '18

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

We have arrived!

Pre-trip at RDU!
After an early morning alarm and a couple of flights, we have arrived in Antigua, Guatemala. Some of us were lucky enough to catch a glimpse of one of the country's volcanoes on our descent, while others had to wait to marvel at the giant during our drive from Guatemala City to Antigua. Needless to say, we were full of awe and excitement!
Short flight from RDU to Atlanta. Then 3 hours from Atlanta to Guatemala City
Once we got into the beautiful city of Antigua, we were brought to our houses to unload our things and eat some lunch. We were incredibly fortunate to have a chef come into the home to whip up a delicious meal that was devoured within minutes. In the culinary aspect of the trip, we were off to a great start! After lunch, it was off to the town square to get acquainted with the lay of the land. There we were greeted by various merchants and also viewed one of the statues of the city, an ode to motherhood.

Post-customs in Guatemala. Not all of us were lucky enough to not get searched!
We certainly won't go hungry with meals like this!
A grocery store trip was next in order, picking up supplies for the week. We will mostly be self-sufficient for breakfast and lunch, with the option for dining in or out in the evening. We began our adventure with using the local currency, Quetzales, having to learn quickly how to convert the values in our heads. We are getting there...

Once we returned to the house, we relaxed by the pool and met with Lisa about our next day's itinerary. We are excited to be attending a Spanish lesson tomorrow morning and then heading to a school to work with children with various disabilities.
Andrea, Ned, and Jeremy enjoying the house hot tub

Most of us went out to eat at Monoloco, a local establishment just outside of the square. The menu and music were both in English, which we laughed about (but also were thankful considering the length of our day). The food was great and so was the atmosphere. Definitely recommend!

Off to sleep for us travelers. We can't wait to tell you about our day tomorrow!

Buenas Noches,