Bolivia has been great and while I miss home and a lot of things about it, I am a bit sad to be leaving Tarija soon. I’ve been having a great time here after having adjusted a bit more. I’ve gotten more used to the transportation systems (I now know bus routes, which truffis to take, and how to order a taxi) and I have been getting better at understanding and speaking Spanish. I also have bonded with my host sister who is only 2 years older than me and I’ve been enjoying my clinical rotations and our spare time.
Our second weekend we spent at the petting zoo and got see a bunch of animals. We rode horses, milked a cow, and pet bunnies. During my third week of rotation at the regional hospital I was able to rotate through different specialties. Dr. Cardoza, a pulmonologist, showed us around on our first day in the tuberculosis unit and then gave us our assignments for the rest of the week. I also got to spend time in the burn unit, the surgery unit, the pediatric unit, and the labor and delivery unit. Here I got to watch a cholecystectomy, a skin graft procedure, and spend time watching the care of a woman with placenta previa. Though one of my favorite things from my hospital rotation was when I spent time feeding yogurt and talking to a 3-year-old boy in the pediatric unit. Just being able to connect with a patient like that was so pure and really affirmed my interest in wanting to be a pediatrician.
For our last weekend in Bolivia, nine of us decided to go on a “once in a lifetime” trip. We decided to go on a tour of Salar de Uyuni (the Salt Flats of Uyuni) and other sites of Uyuni. This required us to take an 8 hour bus to the city of Potosi and then another 4 hour bus to Uyuni. There was an issue though with a citizen blockade in Uyuni that prevented us from going there after arriving in Potosi, so we spent the day exploring this colonial city as we awaited news on whether or not we could even go to Uyuni that weekend. Luckily, we were able to go and spend 3 days exploring the world’s largest salt flats, the Red Lagoon, the sulfur geysers, and other natural beauties. I am so grateful that our group was able to experience this and that we got to spend our last weekend in Bolivia seeing some of it’s amazing scenery!
As our time in Tarija, and Bolivia itself, comes to an end, I am feeling both homesick and sad to go. While I struggled a bit being in Bolivia originally, I have grown a bit accustomed and fond of this country and the routine of daily life here. Everything is vibrant and I have found happiness in a lot of aspects of being here. Mostly, it’s refreshing to see how happy people are here.