This is one of my favorite people I met in Granada (there were a lot of them.)
Her name is Maria Elena Solorzano, and she, as well as her sister, are veterinarians in Granada. I suppose a person who owns a clinic in a town could see something like the World Vets Training Center pop up, and say, wow that stinks, and this is going to compete with my work, and this is terrible.
Or you could say, let me help you, because I care about the animals in my town and I want them to have access to more than I am capable of offering by myself. This is Dr. Mari Elena.
She was instrumental in helping the World Vets team access carriage horses and equine farms in the area so each group of students had a full amount of time to get hands-on horse experience. As a resident, she had access and knowledge the team did not to help get the word out about the services World Vets wanted to offer. In addition, when caseload was slow at Casa Lupita in town, she organized dog and cat street clinics on the outskirts of the city.
She was to me, the embodiment of the spirit of people of Nicaragua: caring, hardworking, and determined to do right by those she came by.
Including the multiple pit bulls she has adopted over the years. She told me with no small amount of sadness that dog fighting has become a new popular trend in town, and she has scooped up sweet dogs who weren’t performing up to par and were in danger of being put to death. Yes, even here, this happens.
On our last sunny afternoon in Granada, Dr. Mari Elena joined the team at one such street clinic. It was puppy and kitten day, apparently. Piles of puppies, chubby, well fed, there for preventive care.
And cats like you’ve never seen- mellow cats, hanging stoically from children’s arms as they awaited their fate, looking languidly at their surroundings.
Deworming is never a popular thing.
This cat tolerated everything quite lackadaisically, though I kept my eye on him waiting for the other shoe to drop. After all, there were a whole lot of dogs there too. Every cat has his limit.
And there we have it! The cat makes a break for it in a moment of complacence.
The cat runs across the street and wedges himself under a shed. Dr. Sarah and Dr. Mari Elena are dispatched to assess the situation.
“Please help!” the boy cries. “The dog is going to eat him! PLEASE!” he pleads, as the dog, awakened by the ruckus, raises his head and shrugs.
The cat, saved from the clutches of the geriatric shepherd mix, is safely returned to the boy, thanks to the skills of Dr. Mari Elena.
Though his cat handling skills, I think, could use a little more refining.
It is so lovely to see someone for whom interacting with the community is as natural as breathing. You’d be surprised at how rare it has become. Dr. King and I visited her clinic later that day; for all the work she does and all the people who rely on her, she has all the skills she has learned, but no textbooks. Not a one. I would like to figure out a way to get my books to her, especially the large animal ones, the ones sitting in my garage being of no use to me. She has assured me she could use them.