Tag Archives: travel

Glimpses of Guatemala: Tikal

You start your day early and arrive at Tikal while morning’s cool touch still covers the jungle. As you follow your guide down the dirt trails, birds greet you with their chirps and whistles. You pass the great ceiba tree, the national tree of Guatemala. If you look down, perhaps you’ll see butterflies gathered around a puddle or ants intent on a destination.

Once you reach the Grand Plaza with the two temples facing each other, you take a break as you also take in the history and scenery around you.

Then you’re off to reach Temple IV further on in the jungle. Not fully excavated, Temple IV can be climbed by wooden ladder-steps. Somehow these look safer than the steep, uneven stone steps you saw at the Grand Plaza.

Up you go, step by step. When you finally reach the very top, you sit down and look. You are above the canopy of the jungle, so nothing impedes your view. What was that deep roar? A howler monkey? You read that they can be heard 5 miles away…

As you sit there, you welcome a sense of wonder. Wonder over the beauty before your eyes. Wonder over the diversity of the animals and plants you’ve seen. Wonder over the intelligence and skill of a people who built and understood so much centuries ago. As you make your way down the wooden steps and drive to a hotel for dinner, you certainly have plenty to think about.

I have been to Tikal 22 times and there was always something to wonder over. This part of Guatemala reflects the rest of the country in that it is a place of wonder. You could say it’s wonder-full.

Glimpses of Guatemala: One of the most beautiful places on earth…

One of the most beautiful places on earth

A lake surrounded by volcanoes and shaded by sunset-streaked clouds. Maybe this scene can be found around the world, but if you know Guatemala you probably know just the lake we’re talking about.

Some favorite memories of this place include breakfast on the shore surrounded by beautiful flowers under Guatemala-blue skies, playing along a “beach”, appreciating the crisp morning air after having been in the humidity-laden Petén, chatting with old friends and dreamily admiring the landscape and thinking it seemed like Hawaii. (Anyone who has actually been to Hawaii might see it differently…)

So what is the name of this place? Like we said, to those who know Guatemala it will seem simple, but perhaps not for others. Write an answer in the comment section and don’t forget to tell your favorite memories of this place! Let’s share the wonders of one of the most beautiful places on earth that happens to be in our loved Guatemala.

At Understanding the Guatemalan Patient, we want to share both the world and words of Guatemala with you. That’s why we’ve included folk medicine notes and other tidbits along with medical terms in the book. Check out some of our past “Word(s) of the Week” to get a glimpse of what you’ll find within the pages of Understanding the Guatemalan Patient,

Glimpses of Guatemala: Do You Know This Place?

After winding along the hairpin curves enroute from Guatemala City to Chichicastenango, you might need to stretch your legs or enjoy an extra cup of coffee. Ahead is a brightly-colored sign. Maybe this is a good place to stop. Here in the mountains, the morning air can be chilly. A hot cup of coffee definitely sounds good! As you walk up to the door, the smells of wood smoke and hot corn tortillas beckon to you. Once inside, rustic tables and chairs offer space for many travelers.

What would be good to order with a cup of coffee? Homemade pie – what could be better? Well, pay de papaya y piña! What about the cake with chocolate sauce? Mmmm. Decisions, decisions.Chichoy pieChichoy cake

 

 

 

 

If you’ve traveled this way before, perhaps the story is giving it away. Do you know the name of this place?

¡Sí! ¡Muy bien! El Chichoy has welcomed travelers for decades. Nestled right by the road, it is the perfect stop for a meal or just a refreshment.

In the Guatemalan mountains where the Chichoy is located, Guatemala’s indigenous languages – totaling 22 – are still spoken. Although many of the people now also speak Spanish, some words are slightly different or are used differently. These people and their unique use of language were part of the inspiration behind Understanding the Guatemalan PatientWe hope they will be just as clearly understood by those who serve them as their completely bilingual neighbors.

 

Chichoy sign

 

¡Buen Provecho! Guatemalan Meal Memories

A recent conversation with a fellow Guatemala lover brought back many memories of Coconut Cream Piefavorite Guatemalan meals. Ah, the spicy-sweet smells wafting from Doña Luisa’s in Antigua! It seems that few visitors can pass by without stopping in, perhaps for a slice of cinnamon raisin bread, a chocolate ice cream or a piece of the reportedly excellent carrot cake. Then there’s the American Hotel in Guatemala City with their coconut cream pie – Dr. Hammer’s favorite and the subject of legends!

FullSizeRenderHowever, when it comes down to it, Guatemala’s more traditional flavors are her best. Warm corn tortillas, frijoles (black beans), platanos fritos (fried plantains) with miel (honey) and queso fresco (Farmer’s cheese) make an amazing breakfast!

Feeling hungry? Same here! Maybe it’s time to cook up some Guatemalan deliciousness. Then there’s only one thing left to say, “¡Buen provecho!”

What about you? Do you have a favorite Guatemalan or Latin American food or meal memory? How about a favorite restaurant? We’d love to hear from you, so please drop us a comment in the box below!

¡Buen Viaje!: Three Reasons to Serve Overseas If You’re Training in the Medical Field

Now that summer has hit, all of you students heading toward the healthcare field have time to think beyond your textbooks. It’s a big world out there with lots of opportunities. As you map out the rest of the year and look ahead, here are three reasons to consider making an international service trip part of your plans.

1. Be Stretched

Unless you’re one of those special people who just naturally goes with the flow, most of us find being in a new place with strangers, eating strange food and hearing a possibly strange-sounding language a bit s-t-r-e-t-c-h-i-n-g. But as we’ve all been told before, getting out of our comfort zones can be a very good thing! In fact, if you are training in the medical profession, getting used to a rubberband life may really help you. After all, healthcare is a constantly changing field. Stretching international experiences can also make for good stories…At least they might be more interesting than that inorganic chemistry course you thought might kill you last semester!

2. Build People Skills

Whether we realize it or not, many medical personnel spend a great deal of each day interacting with people. Patients, patients’ families, and coworkers, not to mention our own families and friends, all come into play. Beyond that, aren’t many of us here because we want to help people? If that’s the case, we need to be good at working with them. While we can read all of the books we can find (and some of them may be helpful), a lot of people-reading skills are built by hands-on experiences and watching how others handle situations. Sure, you may feel more comfortable looking into your microscope, but. hey, if nothing else, realize that doing some things that involve people will look good on your med school applications or resume.

3. Bless Others

Like we said, many of us in medical professions (or heading toward them) are doing what we’re doing because we want to help people. Of course, we strive to do this every day no matter where we are. However, imagine serving people who have limited access to quality care. For example, in 2011 there were 2.45 physicians per 1,000 people in the US while there were 0.47 in Bolivia, 0.36 in Bangladesh, 0.08 in Zimbabwe and (2009) 0.93 in Guatemala[1]. In nations like these, you could be a part of hands-on medical work (a definite plus) and meet a real need. While you may encounter a rare tropical disease or two, in communities around the world, men, women and children struggle with common and treatable yet untreated conditions. Maybe our heads, hearts and hands are supposed to be the ones to help them.

Do you have plans to use your medical skills to serve abroad this summer or later this year? We’d love to hear where you’re headed and what inspired you to buy your ticket! And if Guatemala or its nearby neighbors are on your route, don’t forget to pick up your own copy of Understanding the Guatemalan Patient: A Glossary of Spanish Medical Terms and Folk Medicine and share your feedback with us.

1 CIA The World Factbook  https://www.cia.gov/Library/publications/the-world-factbook/fields/2226.html (accessed 24 May 2015).