I have a hard time myself getting a grasp on all the places I have been fortunate enough to visit in the last two years. To say it has been immensely rewarding is the understatement of the century. I am writing today from Granada, Nicaragua, at the World Vets Latin America Training Facility, where I’m observing the last few days of the immensely successful summer training program for vet students, pre-vet students, and tech students.
Cathy said she was pleased with how the project was going. She is, I have learned, beyond modest when it comes to her work. What they have managed to accomplish is incredible and I can’t wait to do what I did in Tanzania, take you here and show you around. It’s amazing.
What strikes me though, as I travel to more and new places, is the strange way in which your world simultaneously expands and contracts. There are things that are vibrant and new and unexpected, the mosaic Dia de los Muertos glass sculpture materializing out of the dark on my drive here, the residents draping streamers back and forth, back and forth across the dirt road like massive glittery carwash strands in preparation for the weekend festival, the drama of trying to find a French man’s house based on directions translated first to Spanish, then to English, in a game of interpretive skill ending with “find the house painted with jello.” These are things you never knew you wanted to experience and are so glad you did.
Yet for every one of those, there is something so achingly familiar that it’s almost jarring in its similarity. The grandmas in their long floral print mumus walking small white dogs, the street hawkers approaching you with shirts and necklaces. The willingness of children to engage with you, no matter who you are or where you are from, if you give them a genuine smile.
I’ve volunteered in five countries, and despite logistical differences and wildly different cultures, the components of a spay/neuter project are so similar that this picture could have been taken almost anywhere.
I sat on the floor waiting for this kitty to wake up from his neuter, monitoring him so that the vet student in training could move on to her next surgery, a task I learned in vet school, perfected in practice, and took on as needed in places like Mexico and Peru and now here. It’s a routine comforting in its familiarity; flip cat, check blink reflex, pull catheter, rinse, repeat.
So here I am, probably being obtrusive in my picture taking and trying not to get too much in the way, but like anesthestic recovery, writing is a task so easy and familiar to me that I do it without thinking, my mind swirling with the images and bubbling over with the stories I can’t wait to share with you.
Different continent, same camera, same blog. Stay tuned for the latest crop of adventures.