Thursday, June 30, 2011

Without Words

This morning we went to Colegio San Ignacio de Loyola, which is a Jesuit school for boys starting at age 3 and going all the way through high school! We just toured the grounds, which were absolutely beautiful by the way, and at the very end got to go into a couple of the classrooms. The little boys were so cute and so excited to meet us. I highly doubt we are doing any clinical sites here and there is no connection with Sacramento Santisimio so I am not sure why we visited but it was nice to get a little break in the morning. 
After our wonderful seista, I headed back to the ER, this time I was placed on the pediatric unit. I was nervous due to the fact I was by myself with no language help from Maria and amongst twenty people who only spoke Spanish. As soon I stepped into the room I was told by the nurse to take out an IV from a one year old boy. During my adult clinical this past spring, I became the QUEEN of taking out IVs. I think out of the 7 or 8 patients I had, I took out at least 4 IVs. So even though the baby was squirming around I was able to get it out with ease and I gave myself a nice mental pat on the back. I told the nurse (in Spanish) that I only knew a little bit of Spanish. Rather than just rolling her eyes at me and then just letting me sit and watch she started showing me the charts and how they charted. She was speaking all in Spanish but slowly enough so I could pick up most words and pointed at things. I didn’t say much but I feel like I picked up on most of what she was explaining to me. I have learned in my first three days of clinicals that nursing has its own language and it doesn’t change no matter the language. The drugs may be spelled slightly different but you can put two and two together and can figure out what they are. Many medical terms are very similar so even if I don’t know the word I can make a pretty good guess at what it is, which has been a blessing for me. After explaining the charting system (which is all by hand and on paper), she started showing me how to draw up drugs and get injections ready for the patients and how to make the formula for the nebulizing treatments. I helped to get all of the supplies ready and then she told me to follow her and we took a 3 day old baby into the “trauma” room. The baby needed an IV because he had an infection and needed antibiotics right away. So I helped set up the equipment then held the baby as the nurse inserted the needle. After the needle was in, I started to tape it all up and make sure it was secure. We really didn’t say anything, everything was done through hand motions and pure nursing instinct. After that I gave more medications, took out another IV and gave a couple nebulizing treatments to the kids. I also helped the nurse soak a two year old in cold water because he came in with a fever! Very old fashioned, but it definitely brought the child’s temperature down until the doctor could come and look at him.
I was changing out one of the patient’s IV container/bag that had normal saline running and I was about to throw it away when the nurse said “no” and pointed next to the sink. I saw some other ones that had a side cut out sitting there, the nurse picked it up and pretended to spit in it. It finally hit me that they REUSE the plastic containers that they use to run IVs for spit containers for the patients! I couldn’t believe it, a hospital REUSING something! All the hospitals I have worked at in the U.S, you use something once, even if just for a second, it gets thrown out immediately and you get a new one. It made me think about on one hand, how grateful I am to live in the U.S and have all this equipment readily available for us. On the other hand, we are so wasteful with our supplies and could save so much money if we just reused some equipment. 

Giving some IV push meds to one of the patients with the wonderful nurse at my side!

Pictures from the past two days

 Taking blood pressure in the ER. This is the "waiting room" even though as you can see behind us there are beds with patients in them.
 Yes, this is the medicine, just out in the wide open. No drawers, locks, containers, etc!
Above: Helping with dinner at the nursing home.
Below: Receiving instruction from Daisy on how to clean and dress the wounds. (This was the patient with just the small ones on the leg).
Sorry I didn't have these earlier but they were on Maria's camera so I had to wait to get them from her!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Different Worlds


This morning Maria, Marianne and I spent it working at the hospice. Dr. Belknap came with us as well, and we definitely needed her. We started off with a very elderly and frail woman who has cellulitis and has a sore on each leg. The right leg had three very small ones, and Daisy (one of the parish nurses) took off the old bandage, cleaned it and placed a new bandage to show us how it was done. Then we got to do the left leg, which was much bigger but only about 4 inches long and 2 inches wide. It was the biggest sore I had seen in person since I started clinicals, little did we know what was in store for us next. All five of us then went to man’s room who is paralyzed from the waist down. For those in the medical field, he had three very large, unstageable pressure ulcers on his sacral area. Those who have no idea what a pressure ulcer is, in the simplest and least grotesque explanation, due to decreased nutrition, circulation, movement and constant pressure causes the tissue and skin to breakdown. They always showed us horrible pictures of Stage 4 and Unstageable ulcers in class so that we have an idea of what they are, but I think this was the worst than any picture I have ever seen. On top of that, the patient had gone to the bathroom and it was all over and in the ulcers. We had a huge job ahead of us and all ten hands would be needed. It was a very long and tedious process, cleaning, re-cleaning, putting on ointment and then taping it all up. He also had ulcers on both of his heels and on the backs of each knee. Even though the ulcers were definitely in late stages and I have never seen one in the hospital, they could not even compare to what was on his bottom. We changed his clothes and bed and when we were about to leave the room, I finally saw him smile. Even though it was a lot of physical and emotional work, it made it all worthwhile when he smiled. You could tell that even though he may have felt uncomfortable with the entire process, he was so happy to feel clean. We then talked with Daisy and she said usually she has to do all of that ALL BY HERSELF! We were all in shock, with the three of us working and Dr. Belknap and Daisy helping hold the patient, it still took us almost two hours to complete everything! It is absolutely amazing what these nurses do, Daisy was working today from 6am-6pm and was the only nurse for 10-12 very dependent patients. I have so much respect for her and even though it wasn’t my favorite thing to do, I can’t wait to come back and help Daisy out as much as I can. For the last 30 minutes we gave arm and leg massages to a couple of the patients, which they absolutely loved! It is amazing what a little rub on your arms and legs in good company can do for the body.
This afternoon was spent at the nursing home. We just helped feed the women dinner and then put them to bed. I am not the biggest fan of nursing homes, just because most of the nursing homes I visit I feel like many of the workers neglect the patients. Usually it is not because they don’t care, but because there is just not enough people to take care of everyone. That is exactly what this nursing home was like, for more than 15 women there is just one nun. So having the three of us there definitely helped with dinner and putting them to bed. It was interesting to see the difference between how the nun and Daisy (the nurse at the hospice) worked. Both of them are working on their own, but the nun was very harsh, short and not very compassionate with the patients. Daisy was so warm, patient and always had a smile on her face. 

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Lows and Highs

So today our group started clinical at 9am this morning. Meg and Chelsea went on home visits while myself, Marianne and Maria went to the ER at a hospital about three blocks from the church. I was so excited to finally be putting my nursing skills in action, but once I stepped inside the adult unit of the ER my mood drastically changed. Everyone was speaking a mile a minute and in such thick accents I couldn't understand what they were asking or saying. The ER was super chaotic today as well which made everything that much worse because everyone was running around like chickens with their heads cut off. I was picking up words here and there at first but it got so overwhelming and I just couldn't keep up. I started thinking that I shouldn't be here because I can't communicate with these people and that I was just going to fail. Those who know me, I am a very independent person, I never quit and I beat myself up if I fail at something I know I can do. I was beating myself up saying that I should have studied Spanish more, regretting not taking more classes at Marquette, etc. The nervousness and defeat must have read on my face because the nurses started to talk slower and use simpler words that I could understand. I also was with Maria (who speaks fluently), and she helped translate a lot for me. After about 45 minutes of being there I was asked to take a blood pressure, I did it with ease and even though I struggled with telling them what the result was, I started to feel better about being there. Next they asked me to give an insulin shot, once they told me it was insulin, my nursing instincts kicked in and I did it with a breeze. The nurse who was showing Maria and I how to do things, began to try to explain what to do but I just did it and he was kind of shocked considering I couldn't really understand other things. That is the wonderful thing about the nursing career, it is the same in every language and can be accomplished with little communication as long as it is familiar to whomever is performing the skill.

I also got to help with an EKG and then mostly just watched other stuff like putting in IVs, assessments, etc. I also had a surgical tech pull me aside and show me how to do stitches. We watched him put some in earlier but I was kind of standing in the back so he pulled me into the trauma room and pulled out all the tools needed and just kind of showed me, but without really stitching what it all entailed. It was really cool because he didn't speak any English but we did a lot of hand motions and sounds with simple words like cabeza, sangre, and la carra to help demonstrate which type of stitches are used for certain cuts.

Most of the time this morning was spent just looking around the ER and getting familiar with the equipment or lack there of. There were 7 beds with just curtains between for the adult ER unit, most of the hospitals I have worked at in the U.S have about 20-30 private rooms all with a closing door. There was no med drawer or Pyxis unit (this is a locked machine that holds stronger drugs, for those not in the medical field) just a wooden box that had separators and the glass ampules of the medicine sitting inside. The separators had a piece of paper taped to them with the name of the drug. Anyone could just walk up, find the drug they want and then grab it and use it. Another huge difference was the fact that there were no IV machine poles. Anytime I have hung an IV bag in the U.S I just place the tubing in the machine and press buttons to determine the infusing rate and then the machine does its job. Today Maria and I both had to determine the drop rate ourselves! I remember doing it once in lab but at the time I remember thinking, "Oh I will never have to do this, all the hospital IV poles do it for you." Boy was I wrong, it was really simple to pick up, it is just a matter of counting the drops per minute and than either making it faster or slower for the desired rate. It was so interesting to see how they were still able to get so much accomplished with so little equipment and I am glad I was able to work in this setting.

After lunch the original plan was for my group to go to the orphanage and the other group to head to the nursing home. While we were waiting for the parish workers to meet us and take us to our designated places, Daisy (one of the parish nurses) said there was a change of plans and that we were going to pick up someone and take them to the hospice. So we all piled into the back of the truck (this is one of my new favorite things :]) and headed out to one of the village homes. Supposedly today while some of the missionaries were out delivering food packages they came across this home of a mother and three boys. The mother who is 42 has been sick for two years and within the past week has not eaten anything at all. The eldest boy, who is only 13 yrs old, dropped out of school when his mother got sick and has been taking care of not only his mother but the two other boys. We got to the house or what is better called a shack (the villages are made up of bamboo and tin walled shacks and roofs with dirt floors) and found a very frail, sick lady laying on a mattress. After doing some initial assessments and talking with her and I am assuming the neighbors, we helped her into the truck and drove to the hospice. There were took her to her room and then began our assessments. We took vitals, listened to lung, heart and bowel sounds and started putting two and two together. It is hard to say exactly what she has considering we don't really have any diagnostic tools, but between the five of us girls and our professor, we believe she has some kind of liver failure or hepatitis because she is very jaundiced and has ascites (fluid filling) in her stomach. We believe she doesn't have long left to live but we are happy she is at the hospice and finally getting some real care.

When we were putting Aurelia into bed at the hospice, she smiled and sighed a sigh of relief when she laid back on the bed. We did simple things like put a cool washcloth on her head and gave her some chapstick and you could just see in her eyes how comfortable she was. Even though the sadness of her dying and leaving three young sons without a mother is overwhelming and made me tear up this afternoon, the happiness that I felt when she smiled as I put the washcloth on her warm head made what we were doing worthwhile. For those who don't know, I am very interested in oncology, specifically related to hospice and palliative care. Many jaws drop and people are shocked that anyone would ever want to work in such a sad career. I am not denying that it is sad and will be emotionally difficult for me at times, but the happiness I will get knowing that one cool washcloth, sip of water, back rub or hand held makes a world of difference to the patient and helps them on their journey to the world beyond.

On a different, less serious note, we go to mass every night at 7pm, and it is all in Spanish! They clap with every song and I truly enjoy going even though I don't understand most of the readings, songs or homilies. Today, mass was longer than usual because every six weeks, they Confirm about 75 adults. Not only did they have 75 Confirmations today, they also had 15 Baptisms, it was exactly like an Easter Vigil mass that we have in the U.S.

I am being fed very well, maybe even a little too well ;) and the people here are still very welcoming and give hugs and kisses on the cheek every time they see you. It is such a happy place here and even though I had a rough morning, I feel a lot better because of the love and support I have received here not only from the other nursing students, but the missionaries and parish workers as well.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Mission Found :)

Today was our last day of touring around at the places we will be working at for the next month. Before lunch we stopped at Vida Nueva, which is a men's drug and alcohol rehab clinic. The cool thing about Vida Nueva is that it is an open door policy, in which the men can come and go as they please and they are not forced to do anything. They aren't given any drugs to help with the rehabilitation and therapy is focused on doing things such as cooking, playing sports, making things, and their relationship with God. All the men spoke so highly of the clinic and said that other rehab centers are violent and degrading which makes recovery much more difficult. To be placed in Vida Nueva the men has to go through a interview process to determine if it is really in their heart and mind to become sober. Once at Vida Nueva they are placed under some strict rules, they are not allowed to work, make money, leave the house, or have any possessions such as cellphones, cameras, etc for one whole year! Once they make it to their second year sober, they get privileges to start working, making money, having material possessions, leaving the house, etc kind of like a year sober gift! One of the men makes jewlry as a form of his therapy and he gave each of us a bracelet and said that when we visit again he will have rosaries for us. The also gave us a beautiful picture of Jesus in a photo frame that they made. It looked like painted wood but it actually was rolled up paper that had been painted. We hope there is some way we can transport it home to the College of Nursing. Oh and the men challenged us to a soccer game the next time we visit :) Marianne is planning on doing her teaching project at Vida Nueva with the men so we told them that after the project, the game is on! 

 After lunch we visited with a women's group here at SS called Vaso de Leche. These women meet every Monday and have bible study, talk and teach each other things and then they take what they talked about back into their villages and teach others. Another important thing they do is making sure that the young children in their village have breakfast. They all went around and told us their names and what they do here at SS. We then showed them how to do the Cupid Shuffle which they absolutely LOVED! We started to feel right at home with these women. We then sat back down and we asked them if they had any questions for us or things they would like to learn. We were so surprised when more than five hands shot up and they started saying all the things they wanted to learn from us. How to eat/be healthy, how to deal with adolescent daughters, how to take care of minor cuts/burns, how to take temperature and blood pressure, exercising and the list goes on! I was in shock because most of these women are much older than me and probably have had more life experience than me and yet they wanted to learn so much from us. I felt so honored that they looked so highly at us at our young 20/21 years of being on this world and wanting us to share with them what we know. I looked at the other girls and we all had the same expression on our face, pure happiness in finding what God has sent us to do. This is why we all became nurses, we want to help people who are eager to learn and teach them well enough that they can go out and teach others so that our society as a whole is healthier and happier. I looked at their faces and saw the gears and motors already working and thinking about all the things we could do for these women. Within a minute of leaving the women we started talking about what had been on on all of our minds. We sat down with our professor, Dr. Belknap, and decided that rather than doing a ton of individual teaching projects that we kind of just made up on the fly, that we should do our teaching projects here with these women because they are so eager to learn! We also decided that we wanted to do our huge aggregate project, which makes up the majority of our grade, on this group because they would benefit from it most and maybe we can start to draw attention and popularity to the group so that it can become larger and stronger. Marianne and I kind of already told people at the places where we were planning on doing our teaching projects that we were going to present to them. So we said that we still wanted to do our original teaching projects but that we would work together on the First Aid topic for the women of Vaso de Leche. It is going to be a lot of work, but this is why I came here; I came to teach, to help those who need help, and to share my knowledge and love with the people of Piura. I only hope that I can make as huge of an impact on the people as they have already made on me in these past three days.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Culture Shock!

 The nursing home we visited yesterday. This is the men's side of the nursing home.
 Altar at the cathedral in downtown Piura. Everything in the church was covered in gold, absolutely beautiful!

So today we did some more touring around Lima. Mostly of places that are owned/part of Sacramento Santisimo (SS). We first stopped at the women's shelter. SS built it for women who have children and don't have a husband or family to help take care of their family. They live here until they can get back on their feet. It is really nice because there is no real daycare down here so when some of the women are working to try to get back on their feet they can leave there kids with the other women who are at the shelter. The 2nd floor of the shelter is being renovated for girls/women who get too old for the orphanages, so about around 20 yrs old and they live in the shelter until they can go to college.

Second we went to the hospice here in Piura ran by SS, it is called Los Angeles. The hospice is absolutely beautiful and has just been built recently. This is the only hospice in Piura and that is because a man from Milwaukee, Wisconsin, whose church is a sister church of SS, died of terminal cancer and in his will donated money to build the hospice. Here is a picture of the middle of the hospice. This is the chapel and then surrounding it is the rooms for the patients. There are 12 rooms and currently 12 patients. Surprisingly not all of the patients are needing end-of-life care though, some are just there because they have no family to take care of them. For example, one of the men was found living under a truck and Padre Jose (the priest of SS) allowed him to live at the hospice so he had a place to stay.
 To the left of the hospice is a cemetery and a newly built chapel, because it is very expensive to bury the dead here in Piura. To the right of the hospice is the school of SS. It is newly built and is currently being renovated as well. It holds 436 students, from K through high school! After this we drove to a sister parish of SS called San Jacinto, every Sunday we will be going to mass there because Padre Jose says the mass. Today because of us touring, we missed mass but came for lunch at the retreat center that SS helped to build. Here I tried something that most people who know me would NEVER believe! I tried ceviche today, and I actually LIKED it! For those of your who don't know what ceviche is, it is raw fish! I don't like fish at all and especially raw fish! Here is me after I tried it, still alive! :)
 After our seista time, we went to church for Corpus Christi. Church was held in some kind of sport stadium and was filled to the brim with people and then there were people standing outside just to listen to the mass. There were easily thousands of people there but we had a place reserved for us in the front and we obviously stood out in our fair skin and white shirts (our professors wanted us to match just in case we got lost in the masses, we would later find out why this was so important). Here is the altar that they made in the sport stadium, the bishop said mass and all the priests from Piura participated.
Communion here is very interesting, rather than getting up row by row, it is a made dash free for all here in Piura. People here are absolutely crazy when it comes to mass and religion. I would soon find this out when after mass was over the bishop placed host in the Blessed Sacrament and the place went crazy; applause, pictures, people crying, etc. I had seen pictures of this holy vessel in my religion books but I had never seen it in real life. Then a procession began and we all followed out. The bishop got on a trailer with the Blessed Sacrament and started to drive off and everyone followed in a procession. We took a shortcut to a place farther along the route to wait for the procession to come. There was a trailer with a choir and band singing songs about this event. Everyone was dancing and waiting for the procession to come. I don't believe I have ever seen anything like this before. I don't know how to explain it besides imagine every American holiday, the Superbowl and March Madness rolled into one. The people of Piura were going crazy not because of a sports team or celebrity but because of the feast of Corpus Christi! It was absolute madness but I felt so blessed to be a part of such a big part of this culture. Below is the picture of the procession coming over the bridge and to the area where we were awaiting for it to pass. Fireworks were going off, confetti was being thrown into the air, people were screaming and crying just being able to look at it. Everyone was pushing to try to get closer to the car carrying the Blessed Sacrament but altar boys were holding a rope that was surrounding the car to keep people from getting too close. So it became a huge mob and everyone was being pushed around, I had no idea what to do but just scream along with everyone.  This was definitely a first for me, but I am so happy that I got to experience it here in Piura and I find it so astonishing how this culture is based on religion. I look forward to more experiences with this aspect of the culture and hopefully growing in the religious aspect of my life. 


P.S Mom and Dad, sorry to get your hopes up about the color sawdust but I didn't see any so I guess I either had a dream that someone said that or I just completely missed it amongst the madness! :)

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Finally in Piura, Peru!

We are finally here in Piura, Peru and all settled into Sacramento Santisimo. The past two days have been very rough. We didn't end up getting to do anything in Lima due to Marianne getting very sick and having to go to the hospital Thursday night. We were there all night and then all day Friday, luckily she was well enough to be discharged and able to make our 6:30am flight this morning. None of us had to get separated which was the main goal we all wanted to achieve. It was very stressful but the five of us girls grew as individuals but also together as a unit. We are all just so happy to finally be here and have real beds to sleep in rather than hospital rooms, chairs and floors.

Everyone here at Santisimo is very welcoming! They greets us with hugs and the little kids run up to us and want hugs and want to hold our hands. Not many people speak English but they do a pretty good job of speaking slowly or trying to explain it differently in Spanish so we can understand. I really enjoy talking with the younger girls because they ask simple questions such as "what is your favorite sport? what is your favorite color?" etc, and it helps to boost my confidence and working with my Spanish conversation.

Before lunch we toured one of the public hospitals in Piura, the nursing home and orphanage. These are three of the places that we will be having our clinicals. We had a delicious lunch in which after we had our "seista" and we all took very much needed naps. After our naps we toured the city of Piura, it was difficult to understand a lot of it because our tour guide (someone who works at the church) spoke only Spanish, but I am picking up words better and can make out the general point he is trying to get across even if I don't know exactly everything he said.

Now we are heading to church and dinner will follow after. I think there may be a fiesta tonight due to a couple birthdays of members of the church!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

PICTURES!!!


Here is me standing on the ruins of Pisaq. The actual ruins are behind me, that is a modern Peruvian village below, but I just love the scenic view.

Ollantaytambo Standing about midway up the terrace ruins.


Marquette nurses at MachuPicchu!! You can see the sun slowly starting to touch HuanyaPicchu

 Above: Me at the top of MachuPicchu. Yes that is HuanyaPicchu in the background! Below: the view of the Inca ruins of MachuPicchu and HuanyaPicchu mountain from the top of MachuPicchu! Absolutely beautiful! I am about 10,000 feet above sea level. Oh and yes that little edge just drops straight down.

Heaven on Earth

Just a little update about my whereabouts. So I am writing from our third hostel for the trip back in Lima, Peru. We didn't get back from our two day tour until about 10:30pm and then the internet was not working very well at all in our hostel which was not good, considering all of us wanted to talk with everyone about our amazing trip. Also our hostel seemed to be a party hostel with some not so clean people so we were very happy to be leaving at 8am this morning even though we were all so sore and exhausted. 

I apologize in advance for my horrible writing and my lack of being able to describe our trip. It is hard to describe in words what we saw, besides breathtaking and amazing. I honestly believe that MachuPicchu is heaven on earth. Seeing pictures and postcards of the ruins does NOT do the Incas justice on their masterpiece. 

Our trip started off June 21st at 8:20am. We were picked up from our hostel and taken to a bus in which there were multiple others groups/tourists that joined us. We drove out of Cusco and to the Sacred Valley of the Incas. I was under the impression that there was just one Sacred Valley and that is what we would be seeing, but our trip was spent visiting two major cities that are on the way to MachuPicchu and are archaeological sites of the Incas. There are four cities that make up the Sacred Valley and we went through two of the biggest ones, Pisaq and Ollantaytambo. Our tour guide was great, he spoke English but with a very thick Peruvian accent which took some time getting used to, but overall was really great and I learned so much! We first stopped at Pisaq in which we walked around looking at the ruins of an Inca village. This was a generic Inca village but is was nice to get a general sense of the culture and understand the reasoning behind some of the basics such as the terraces they built into the mountain walls, laying of stones, agriculture and way of life. 

We then proceeded to Ollantaytambo which is part of the native Inca language (Quechua). Ollanta is just one of the strong Inca warriors and tambo means city. Ollantaytambo is the last city before reaching Aguas Calientes which is at the bottom of Machu Picchu park. This city was never finished due to the Spaniards coming and forcing them out of the village. Here we learned more about how they built the different structures for the common people, the noble families and finally the temples for the Gods. There were so many interesting things dealing with the sun, moon and starts but it is hard to explain without showing pictures and there are just too many to upload on here. So when I get home, if you are interested in learning, I will be more than happy to teach you what I learned. J

We then had dinner in Ollantaytambo and just waited for our train to Aguas Calientes. It was an hour and forty five minute train ride that turned into about 2 ½ hours because I guess some parts of the track are so narrow that if a train is coming another way, one has to stop and let the other pass. So we had to stop a lot and wait for trains to pass. We finally reached Aguas Calientes and headed straight to our hostel, unpacked our things and got on the one computer in the place for about 15 minutes and it was already 11:30pm and we had to be up at 5am to make sure we were at the top to see the sunrise!

June 22nd started bright and early at 5am, our personal tour guide came to pick us up from our hostel and we walked to the bus stop. We then bussed up to the entrance of the MachuPicchu park (about 30 minutes) and entered the park. It was light out, but because of how big the mountains surrounding MachuPicchu are the sun hadn’t risen over MachuPicchu yet. So we spent about 30 minutes walking up to a higher point and taking lots and LOTS of pictures. All five of us were just in awe of the beauty. The sun finally rose and it was stunning to say the least. Watching the sun come over the mountain and cast its rays onto the Inca village and others mountains was absolutely surreal. After the sun rose, we started our tour. We probably spent about 30-45 minutes talking about how MachuPicchu was discovered, the mountains surrounding and the makeup of the village itself. He also dispelled many myths, such as that MachuPicchu was not made for the richer families to live in, it actually was for just the common Incas and it was not the center of the Inca empire, the center of the Inca empire was actually Cusco. Cusco in the Quechua language means “the center” or “holy city”. We then proceeded through the different ruins learning again more about the Incan culture and the significance of the ruins.

Our tour guide recommended that we climb the actual mountain of MachuPicchu instead of HuaynaPicchu . There are only 400 people a day who are allowed to climb HuaynaPicchu and supposedly it is ruthless to get the approved stamp. He said it was easier than HuaynaPicchu and would only be three hours round trip. We figured we might as well do it because we knew if we didn’t we would regret not hiking all the way up. We started our journey and figured that it would be a slight incline just winding around the mountain, we were SO na├»ve. It was not a paved path, just rocks here and there making what some may consider steps. Sometimes I was crawling/climbing up the steps because they were so steep. It was like doing a stair climber while breathing through a straw. Half of the time we were walking on about a 2 foot wide path that dropped straight down into forest and mountain. Close to 2 hours after beginning our journey we reached the top, and I have to say, I would climb that mountain ten times over to see that view. I was almost on top of the world, I can’t describe it in any other way. I don’t even know if pictures will do it justice. The hike down wasn’t bad (only 45 minutes) but gravity would pull you so it was a lot of pounding on our ankles and knees. I am still sore today.

We bussed back down to Aguas Calientes in which we enjoyed dinner then waited for our train back to Ollantaytambo and then a van picked us up and drove us back to Cusco. A long and tiring day, but worth every penny, sore muscle and lost hour of sleep.

We don’t plan on doing much here in Lima, just because we are all so exhausted from our adventures but also because Lima isn’t that great of a city. Really loud, busy and you constantly have to be on the lookout for people trying to take advantage of you and possible pick-pocketing. Also everything here is SO expensive compared to Cusco. We head to Piura on Saturday at 6:30am, so I have another long night at the airport ahead of me.

Thanks everyone for the well wishes! It truly has been a blessing to have you all in my life and I am ever so grateful. Hope to hear from more of you soon! And our internet in Piura should be a little better and hopefully I can start uploading some pictures to this thing! 

Monday, June 20, 2011

End of Day One

After having a lovely lunch, we walked around the city of Cusco a little bit. We did some window shopping and also bought a couple things. Lots of sweaters, hats, and blankets made out of alpaca wool and many other beautiful trinkets and figurines. This weekend is the Festival of the Sun here in Cusco so it is full of colors and life. We would have walked around a lot more but we all have only had about 2 hours of sleep and when we thought it was getting to be about dinner time, it was only 2pm! So after an early dinner we have all just been hanging out and trying to keep the internet working as long as possible. I have an early morning and a long day tomorrow so I am heading to bed. Buenas Noches

The 24hr Trip Ends

Hola everyone from Cusco, Peru!

My travels were long, but everything was on time and I didn`t run into too many problems. The biggest one is the language barrier, I thought I would be decently prepared but I was wrong. I can read all the signs and understand what they mean, but when people talk to me I kind of give them a deer in the headlight look. Most of the Peruvians even through my very broken Spanish can understand what I am saying and we can communicate, so besides feeling like a total outsider, it is fine and I plan on working on it. While waiting to go through immigration and customs I have never felt so out of place.Everyone kept giving me the up down, never saying a word, just staring at me, then they eventually would go back to whatever they were doing. Now that I am with the other girls, I don`t notice the stares as much, maybe it`s just because I am not thinking about it.

Lima's airport was a lot smaller than I expected. I figured with it being the capitol of Peru it would be large, but itwasn`t much bigger than CVG. Marianne, Chelsea and myself met up, grabbed something to eat and then tried to catch some z's. We slept on the tile floor outside of an internet cafe, I only 'slept'about an hour before we woke up to meet Meg and Maria (their flight landed at 4am) and get checked in for our flight to Cusco.

The flight into Cusco was BEAUTFIUL! We flew over mountains and it was just amazing to see the patches of trees, then a long winding road up one side to a snowy mountain top. I took some pictures but with the internet being so slow, I will have to try to upload them later.

Our taxi to the hostel was, interesting to say the least. There are no rules on the road here, just honking and swerving. Even people just run/walk across the street not even looking, I can`t believe we didn`t have an accident or hit someone! We drove by our funeral procession, six men were carrying a white casket that had tons of white and red flower petals on the top. Behind them was a procession of at least 75 people throwing more flower petals onto the casket. They eventually went into a church but it was interesting to see how elaborate the funeral was and our taxi driver says that for the most part every funeral is like that. We also drove through a very narrow street that contained many markets/storefronts with fresh fruits, veggies and meat. Yes, I saw numerous pigs, ducks, chickens, fish and goats just sitting in store front windows. This isn`t like the meat we buy packaged at the store, this is the real deal people, the chicken still had feet and claws, the only thing missing was the head and feathers! Most of the people standing on the side of the road were in traditional Inca garb. It was very beautiful and I wish my camera wasn't in the trunk so I could have shown you all. Maybe I will try to take some pictures later when we go look around.

Our hostel is very nice and friendly, many other international students are here and everything is catered to us. I look forward to staying here and I will take lots of pictures to show everyone it's uniqueness and character.

Well we are going to eat a REAL meal finally, no more airplane and airport food! Then we will prolly go around and sight see since we leave early tomorrow morning for the Sacred Valley and Machu Picchu trek!

Love and miss you all, thanks for the thoughts and prayers. It means a lot!

P.S Nikki, Llamas are everywhere here, mostly stuffed and pictures of, but I am sure once we walk around I will see more ;)

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Tomorrow the adventure begins!

After seven months of anticipating and preparing for this trip, it is finally here! Tomorrow I will be flying out of CVG airport to Atlanta where I will board my 6 hour and 40 minute flight to Lima! I will be arriving in Lima at 11:10pm (Peru is on central time, so no jet lag for me!) Here I will await for Meg, Marianne, Chelsea and Maria in the airport then we leave early Monday morning for Cusco! I will try to get on some kind of internet at the airport to let you all know that I have arrived safely! Thank you everyone so far for the well wishes and prayers, it means a lot to me and I will be thinking of you all as I travel.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Before leaving the U.S

Wow, I can't believe that in 11 days I will be in flight to Lima, Peru! I still haven't grasped the whole concept about living in a third world country for a month. I did do a mission trip in high school to Juarez, Mexico for about 7-8 days but the village was so close to the U.S that I could see the lights of El Paso, TX when I went to bed at night. Even though it was a wonderful experience I don't think it will be anything like what I am about to experience. I get more and more excited each day when I read and see pictures from the other 5 Marquette nursing students who are currently down there who we will be joining for our first week and their last week. These 11 days are going to fly by, especially with working all day and still trying to unpack my apartment.

Before my clinical begins in Piura, I will be traveling with the 4 other nursing students (Marianne, Meg, Chelsea, & Maria) to Cusco, Machu Picchu and Lima. Here is our itinerary for the trip:

June 20th: Cusco
June 21st: The beginning of our Sacred Valley/Machu Picchu Tour and Trek. We will spend the day at the Sacred Valley and end the evening in Aguas Calientes.
June 22nd: Machu Pichhu Tour end the evening back in Cusco
June 23rd: Flight from Cusco to Lima. Spend the rest of the day in Lima
June 24th: Lima for the day then we have to go to the airport to await our early morning flight to Piura.