Several months ago, we had our first team meeting to discuss this trip. I remember learning about the bateys and I developed my own preconceptions of what they’d be like. I even found myself feeling a little bit nervous about what I might see during my travels. First and foremost, I was nervous about the possible lack of restrooms. I imagined myself out in the fields with a roll of toilet paper and an army of animals around me. I was also nervous about meeting the people we would serve. Language and cultural barriers can be difficult to work through.
My first visit to a batey was actually a pleasant surprise. The people were so kind and welcoming. They say only 10% of what we say comes out of our mouths and I support this statement one hundred percent. Somehow I was able to understand what the people were saying to me and I don’t think that was entirely due to our wonderful translators.
We set up shop in a schoolhouse and yes, there was an outhouse in the backyard! I spent part of the day working in diagnostics and moved to the blood pressure station later on. I enjoyed both of these tasks because I was able to interact and connect with patients while serving them. At times I felt too tired and dehydrated to keep going, but the smile on each patient’s face as they entered the clinic rejuvenated my soul. I would not trade this experience for anything and my only regret is that we are not here for longer.
Our team left the Batey around 3pm and returned to Casa Pastoral to shower and eat dinner. Afterwards, we had the opportunity to visit a recreated Spanish villa filled with beautiful architecture, restaurants and shops. I believe a few people managed to find a pub, too. I really enjoyed the lights layered over the entire structure. They reminded me of a painting by my favorite artist, Gustav Klimt. All in all, we had a wonderful day. Looking forward to waking up tomorrow and doing it all over again!