October 13, 2010

Bring a helmet

I feel like I haven't "blogged" in a while... probably not a bad thing, but I don't feel like there's much to say if I'm just sitting home in Connecticut and "travel" consists of trekking back and forth on I-95 every day.

Everyone keeps asking me "Where are you going next??... Asia? Africa? Back to Ecuador?" I am currently broke (thank you vet school applications), just started a new job and am buried under my whopping grad school 10 credits (...actually, ya that IS a lot... 3 courses)

So for now, the biggest journey I'm going on is to Rhode Island this weekend (for a work seminar... yah!!) and the best adventure I'm planning is trying to unravel the secrets of cytochrome p450 (or at least understand enough to survive my Drug Metabolism Mechanisms class)...

So, where am I going next?

Going CrAzY wanna come with?????

Till something else cool comes around, let's wish we were there....

August 28, 2010

I Have a Book!!

Here's a sneak peak... click on the link below for more details!

August 24, 2010

Where did the time go???

Summer is my all time, all around favorite season EVER. And for all intensive purposes, my summer officially ended at 11:00am yesterday :-(

Summer 2010 started on June 21, and I spent the first three "official" weeks of summer in Ecuador, where it is actually winter. Wet, rainy, cold winter.
I came back to the states just in time for a brief heat wave (several beautiful, sunny summer days with temperatures WELL above 80 or 90 degrees. However, I spent most of those days in an air-conditioned veterinary hospital - and subsequently (due to the nastiest of re-filtered air-conditioned air) was sick for several of those days too. And just as the earth and the seasons seem to be living in extremes these days (it doesn't rain - it hurricanes; it doesn't snow, it blizzards; it's not hot, it's scorching heat waves; earthquakes, tsunamis, volcanoes oh my!!) so too was my level of illness at these points.

At the risk of spending the rest of 2010 sick as a dog, let me just reiterate the following. In 2010, I ...

... got bit not once but TWICE by spider monkeys in Nicaragua. Got a nasty bruise, but didn't get sick.

... slept on the ground in Haiti (and slept through an earthquake after-shock) and ate food from Haitian street vendors. Drank a LOT of battery-acid-cholera-killing Coke and used 100% straight DEET, but didn't get sick.

... brushed my teeth with Ecuadorian well-water and drove around really fast at 9,000 ft altitude, but didn't get sick.

... came home from all of these places to my lovely home and air-conditioned jobs, and got attacked by the global-warming induced allergy pollen count in south western Connecticut, and was flat-on-my-*ss-sick-as-a-dog.

After a week of stress and low-level malaise, I spent my last summer night in bed by 10pm. Today, I slept in, was back to work by 11am, and started my 3rd semester of grad school. For all intensive purposes, my summer is over. Unless they have wifi at the beach, or my job wants to pay me for not going to work, I'll be spending the rest of summer (30 days until the official start of autumn) at work, the library, Starbucks, or passed out in bed.

Part of being a grown up I guess.

Duty calls here, but Wish I Was Some Where Outdoors with WiFi....

How I love to be here....

August 19, 2010

Ecuador Videos

Another video from the long plane ride home from Ecuador:

World Vets Clinic, Ibarra, Ecuador 2010

August 13, 2010

16 miles and a lot of ibuprofen later....

Last Saturday was the 23rd Annual Swim Across the Sound - and it literally took me this long to recover from the agonizing muscle pain and blog about it... (not really... I've just been cRaZy at work and not able to get online :-)

My team of 5 crossed the 16 mile (25 kilometer) stretch of water from Port Jefferson, NY to Bridgeport, CT in 8 hours, 24 minutes and 53 seconds.

We finished 5th in University Challenge, and 21st overall (in a field of 45 or 48). More excitingly, I survived, despite NO training WHATSOEVER in the last few months, and avoided uncomfortable encounters with marine life!

Apparently I swam right next to a whopper of a jellyfish, but didn't see any while in the water. From the safety of the boat, I saw several - they tend to clump together in little patches. One large colony in particular was sort of trapped in this lovely seaweed/lobster trap/trash swirl out in the middle of nowhere. One of the guys on our team swam STRAIGHT through it (thankfully, he was fast so the pain was brief!!) After that, we told him to swim directly behind the boat (most people like to swim slightly to the side) to avoid swimming through stagnant clumps of seaweed/trash/jellies and whatever else was floating around.

I think its the mental fear that's exponentially worse than the sting. I told everyone NOT to warn me about impending jellies unless they were absolutely enormous (like, bigger than me) or had a little sign on them saying "Adrien or Bust". I would rather just swim on/over/through them and have the whole process done and gone by the time I feel the sting. Knowing and projecting something slimy and painful in the water in front of you is a panic attack waiting to happen. That being said, I swam behind the boat and avoided whatever was waiting for me out there.

I spent most of the summer thus far working or traveling (and subsequently working too) and NOT in the water. So my contribution to the 5 person relay across the 16 mile stretch was minimal. But I certainly enjoyed the process immensely. This was my 3rd crossing of the Sound with the Swim Across the Sound relay, and by far the most fun and exciting. I was recruited at the last minute for a University of Connecticut student/alumni team for the 1st (of which I hope there will be more!!) SAS University Challenge. There were I think 7 or 8 university teams: Several from Fairfield U - student varsity and alum (and Fairfield Prep, which really shouldn't count, since they are technically still in high school, even if it's right next door to the university), Dartmouth alum "and friends" (which was a kick ass team, since they had 2 highly experienced marathon swimmers), Springfield U (several large, muscled guys who obviously swim very well).... And the best - UCONN!!

We had 2 alum (me and one woman who was also a professor at the medical school), 3 students (very fast swimmers - ah.... to be young(er) and in good shape!), and our boat captain and wife were ALSO alums!!! Our boat was decorated with UConn flags and banners, and everyone who passed by on the water (including several coast guards and police boats) cheered "UCONN! HUSKIES!" It was the first time I was psyched to be a Husky - and the first (unofficial) UCONN sporting event I was psyched to be at. Next year I hope to recruit another UCONN team, and we have already solicited the boat captain, his awesome wife and magnificent sail boat for University Challenge part 2.

Now, time to get back in the pool and train!!

Swimming Photos!!

Getting numbered on the ferry ride to Long Island

Just in case we forget the swimmer order...

all the swimmers getting off the ferry

Dresden and I tagging off for the first leg of the relay

All the boats behind us!!! Try and catch up suckers!! ;-)

Heading towards Connecticut...

Buoy 2A - 1 mile to go!!

go Team UCONN!

August 5, 2010

Swimmer's Kryptonite

SO.... in a historic attempt to make this year one of the best years, I'm working on crossing off a few more items from my personal

* Travel to a war-torn country and sleep through an earthquake - Done
* (Re)learn how to surf (or at least, not die on a surf board) - Done
* Handle a spider monkey - Done and done (scars to prove it)
* Re-apply to veterinary school - Should be writing that essay now.... ;)
* Learn how to drive a stick-shift car - Done
* Swim with a Cyanea capillata - working on it...........

WTF is a Cyanea capillata you ask??

Is it faster than a speeding bullet? ... Well, fast enough.
More powerful than a locomotive?? ... Maybe in groups
Able to leap tall buildings at a single bound? Not really...

So what is it that has almost 300 swimmers in a hot panic this weekend?

Meet Cyanea capillata - the Lion's Mane Jellyfish.
Or as it's referred to in the New England area "Oh f#%@"

This weekend marks the 23rd annual SWIM Across the Sound to benefit the St. Vincent's Cancer Center, and my 3rd year as a relay swimmer (working up to the solo swim... eventually...) More about the SWIM and St. Vincent's here

This Saturday I join a group of crazy people who will be up well before dawn and catch the 6am ferry boat from Bridgeport, CT to Port Jefferson, NY. We will then turn around and SWIM back - in my case, PART WAY back, since I will be sharing the 25 K (15 mile) swim distance with 5 other members of a relay team. That's still a lot of swimming, and according to the latest reports, it will be a lot of swimming in a sea of red lion's mane jellies.

Oh, by the way... did I mention that they sting??

July 15, 2010

Ecuador video

What I did on the plane ride home from Ecuador (when I should have been sleeping!! :)

Ecuador photos updated

Recent Ecuador photos can be found aqui:


July 13, 2010

3 weeks later...

3 weeks and 367 animals later (I think that's the final count... I lost track around 30 so I have to check my notes).... I am sitting in the Colombia airport at the same cafe I was at when I blogged 3 weeks ago - it seems like it was just yesterday, but at the same time, it also seems like it was lifetimes ago.

This has been an long 3 weeks filled with blood (lots of blood), sweat (mental as well as physical) and tears (and I'm sure a lot more are coming once I get home and internalize everything that happened). In the meantime, photos are being updated aqui:


July 10, 2010

machismo es violencia

There is a billboard campaign in Ecuador promoting non-machismo male attitudes and anti-domestic violence. The slogan is "machismo es violencia" (Machismo is Violence) and there are catchy signs and billboards around Ibarra. Does it work? Probably not.

Today was mostly a good day in the clinic. Twelve surgeries (including 3 street dogs EL and I caught with a dart gun this morning) and an overall good, normal high-volume spay/neuter clinic feeling. Until the niños showed up.

One of the street dogs we caught (whom I nicknamed "Tank") was a big, 80+ pound Rottweiler mix that I darted as he was trying to rape a 20 pound female in heat. After surgery and recovery, we put him outside the clinic on a little abandoned side street, gave him an injection to reverse his sedation, pulled out his IV catheter and stood back. JS stood guard over him for a few hours to make sure he was OK, and after a snack of bread and cheese, we were happy to see him back on the street, minus 2 very large testicles!!

A few hours, JS and EL came into the clinic in a hot panic. A pack of children ran up to poor Tank (who was sleeping/passed out on the sidewalk) and attacked him with rocks. One fat little niño hit him square in the head and cut his ear open. Apparently JS and EL chased the little monsters, and the ring leader ran into a church. EL chased him inside and ripped him a new one, along with the pastor/church lady, who screamed at him for trying to hide out in a house of God.

Poor old Tank slept off the last bits of his anesthesia in the clinic bathroom, and we decided to keep him overnight. Considering what he had been through today, a nice shelter, pain medication and bread was the least we could do.

This was probably the most disturbing, depressing day of my entire time in Ecuador. Who the f$%& throws rocks at a sleeping, helpless dog? Seriously? I am speechless. What difference does all of this make if the children (not just the people, but the CHILDREN) have a f$%& it attitude towards animals and humanity. And you know what they say about children who are cruel towards animals, right?

Machismo es violencia. Too bad some of those machismos aren't even old enough to read.

July 6, 2010

When bad things happen to good people....

... I get very upset.

I went to Ambato Sunday night to visit my friend DA and her family. It was (supposed) to be a much needed, animal-drama free 3 days of rest and fun before heading back to Ibarra for the last week of the PAE/WV clinic. But the universe saw fit to have otherwise.

My last night in Ambato was supposed to be spent at a nice little restaurant and any number of local bars or clubs - a girls' night out on the town. After finishing dinner and dessert, DA got a hysterical phone call from her sister (whom we JUST saw not even 30 minutes before). She returned home to find her dogs had been poisoned in her front yard. One dog was still alive, but had escaped during the chaos when the family got home, and was running/seizing/vomiting in the field next door. I have been blessed/cursed with the ability to maintain some control during emergencies (then I freak out afterwards), so I ran (high heels and all) to fish vomiting Osita out of a drainage ditch. I jumped into the back of DA's car and we rushed her to the local vet.

DA's whole family showed up at the vet's office; it was horrible to see them upset about the dead dogs and dying Osita. The story I got (via translation) was that someone threw a few dead chickens (packed with a variety of rat poisons) over the fence into their yard. The dogs ate the chickens (feathers and all) and Osita (being the largest of the dogs) was the one that survived long enough to get to the vet.

After waiting at the clinic for almost 2 hours, Osita was stable and we were told to come back in the morning. I haven't felt so powerless and hopeless in a long time. There was nothing I could do except sit and wait. If there are 2 things I'm NOT good at, it's sitting and waiting. I'm much more of a get-out-there-and-get-dirty kind of gal. It was horrible. The next morning was a relief when I heard Osita was fine (I think the vet was up all night with her) and her prognosis was good.

I wish I had more time to spend in Ambato, but it was hard to be there and not be in a position to help. DA's sister is probably the nicest woman in the world; why someone would poison her dogs is beyond comprehension (*side note* NA told me that when she lived in the Caribbean, people would poison the dogs a night or 2 before breaking into the house... again. Why?) I left Ambato this morning feeling sick and depressed (the sleepless night before didn't help) - my nice, relaxing vacation in Ambato turned into a melodramatic 72 hours, complete with a toxicologic emergency experience and a twisted ankle... In Quito now, and back to Ibarra tonight. What doesn't kill you, makes you stronger (and gives you nightmares and ulcers in the process...)

July 2, 2010

Ehrlichia = 5.... Me = 0

There’s a reason I haven't updated my blog in almost a week.

Actually, there are several:

1) I’ve been exhausted every single night
2) I’ve been too depressed to take out my computer (or go to the Internet cafe)
3) I’ve been too busy having panic attacks and/or being generally agitated and/or impatient

We held surgery/clinic days on Sunday and Monday. Tuesday we were too depressed and drained to do surgery, so we traveled around Ibarra throwing ivermectin at random street dogs and visited the Mercado (market) to see the puppy/kitten booths. Wednesday we braved another day of surgery (very successfully) only to have a disaster later that night. Yesterday we slept in, did laundry, went to the internet, visited a local waterfall and made dinner at Gloria’s house (JA is an AMAZING cook!!)

I will spare the gory details, but let’s just say in almost 2 years of international veterinary clinics (including 3 previous clinics in Ecuador) I’ve never had such a frustrating, depressing, disheartening experience.

My new mantra/theme song for this trip:
I am powerless over Ehrlichia and any other bleeding disorder commonly seen in street dogs of Ibarra Ecuador.

Wish things were better here...

June 26, 2010

La Esperanza

I arrived in Quito Thursday night and (finally!) met NA (the World Vets vet from Buffalo) and BL (the PAE Ibarra coordinatior). NA and I are staying at BL’s aunt’s farm in La Esperanza, a small town just outside Ibarra. I have an AWESOME room on the farm, and even though it’s about 40 degrees (F) out at night, I have a pile of super warm blankets and a nice cozy bed to snuggle in. Now I just wish my Hudson bullie was here with me!

We had a late night tea and cake with BL’s aunt Gloria and her 2 bestest friends, GA and LF. I was exaughsted from not sleeping on the plane (and referring back to a prior entry, there was a woman on the plane who was LITERALLY wearing a bra covered by a scarf. That was IT. Oh, well actually, she was wearing some flashy, “Hey-look-at-me-I’m-almost-naked” jewelry and Brittney-esque shades).

I slept like a baby, and woke up to see the farm in the daylight. Gloria’s neighbor puts her cows out to pasture in the back yard, so I was met with some friendly MOOS from the neighborhood vacas. Gloria has a handful of cats and dogs, all very fat and happy and excited to show me around the property.

Gloria is a very cool person – very ecologically minded with a humane spirit. She proudly showed me a dead scorpion she found in the driveway, and reiterated several times that he “died a natural death”. One of her dogs, Esperanza, was spayed by NA earlier (she’s been in Ibarra for a week already) and is now limping on her back leg in a very ACL-ish manner. Gloria claims she can massage it back to health, and I don’t know for sure if it was the massage or the Rimadyl, but Esperanza stopped limping for a few hours yesterday afternoon :)

NA and I hung out around the farm most of the morning, had breakfast with Gloria, went through our supplies and organized for the clinic. The newest dog on the farm is a cute little black dog named Nikki (after NA :)who is actually allowed in the house and hasn’t moved from the couch since I arrived. She just had an overall ADR look about her (Ain’t Doing Right) and has supposedly had intermittent vomit/diarheaa/anorexia/lethargy episodes since she arrived. She ran around the farm with me for a while, showing me the cow pasture and seemed overall AOK.

We were supposed to go salsa dancing in the afternoon, but BL never came to pick us up. Gloria took us out to lunch, after we re-checked a German shepard, Kaiser, who belongs to Gloria’s great-nephew or grandson. He was apparently showing signs of distemper (which I think is becoming the theme of the trip) and was doing better. We gave in another injection of vitamin B, which cures everything south of Mexico, then went to get ice cream/fruit salad in Ibarra. Yum!

BL was nowhere to be found, and we later found out that a friend of her’s was sick in the hospital. GA came to pick us up and took us to his house to make dinner! He is a really awesome guy, and I want to sneak him back to the States in my suitcase! He’s perfect – he cooks, cleans, drives us around, holds the door open – perfect! Except liking girls… *sigh*

BL came to his house and we had a DELICIOUS dinner, watched some crazy videos on YouTube, laughed, and after the dishes were cleaned and put away, we moved the kitchen table aside and GA and BL taught us how to salsa and meringue! We got back to the farm late and I passed out again (not as cold last night). This morning, NA and I were up and ready to go by 10am to the market in Otavalo.

But first, NA went running past my door with a stethoscope, then again with a thermometer – Nikki wasn’t doing well. Rapid, labored breathing, but no fever. Gloria was upset about a lot of things, and didn’t handle the dog situation well. She told us to just take her to the vet and get her out of the house. There were murmurings of distempter. We loaded her into GA’s car, and took her to the local vet. They have some sort of rapid test for distempter, which they did at the vet’s while GA and I went to the pharmacy to find IV lines and sterile water. When we got back, BL and NA were choaking back tears – Nikki tested positive for distempter.

Since she had been at Gloria’s house for 2 weeks, there was a pretty good chance she would recover from the distemper (as did Kaiser, who had the cornal edema signs of distemper and was now well into recovery). But, there was no room in any shelter or foster home for a possibly-infectious distemper dog, so she was euthanized. In the states, veterinarians are typically responsible for disposing of euthanized animals; in Ecuador, it is the owner’s responsibility. So we went to JA’s father’s house for shovels then off to a remote area to bury Nikki.

Everyone was pretty upset about the events of the morning, so we tried to make the best of the rest of the day. After lunch, we drove to a small town called Otavalo where there is a huge open market (an awesome place to barter for good deals on sweaters, jewelry and other handmade items). Then we drove to the next town over, Cotachachi, which is famous for leather crafts. JA drove us up the Cotachachi volcano to the lake at the top. We drove back to Ibarra just as the sun was setting and went to have parridilla (BBQ) for dinner – my new favorite food. The portions were HUGE, so NA and I saved our leftovers for catching street dogs. Surgery starts tomorrow! Wish us Buena suerte (good luck!)

June 24, 2010

awesome Colombian lunch

From the Barra International Cafe, Bogata Airport

flight of the ninos

Avianca has pretty nice planes, and I was on a huge one, the kind that has seats in the middle, then 2 rows on the sides? It also had an actual first class, THEN business class, then everyone else.

Speaking of everyone else.

There were about 30 little kids (between 6 and 10 years old) on the flight sin adultos. They were all wearing big red Avianca buttons that said "UM" - "unattended minor" maybe?? I was too tired to ask questions, but am somewhat stunned that people still put their kids on a plane alone - and on international flights?? Don't they watch CNN? I am nervous to travel abroad MYSELF, and I am pretty gringa brava. But a 7 year old? Thankfully, Avianca has AWESOME in flight entertainment, so they were actually pretty well behaved. I watched "Meet the Parents" and the first part of "Valentine's Day" in between naps, Sudoko games and breakfast.

A new observation from my trips around the western hemisphere: clothing on airplanes. I dress like a total nomad when I travel - shoes or boots (if I wear them on my feet, I don't have to carry them in my bag), some sort of comfortable pants (sweatpants preferred, yoga pants for warm climates), a bandanna (to cover my bed head and function as an eye mask when I sleep), my glasses (don't want to sleep in contacts), and some sort of sweatshirt or something (since I freeze on planes). So I pretty much look a hot mess getting on and off the plane. Other people?

I am currently sitting in the Bogota, Colombia international airport, waiting for my connecting flight to Quito. I am utterly stunned at what some people wear to travel. Especially the women.

On my flight, there were numerous women wearing short dresses, tank tops, skin tight skinny jeans, full-on makeup, perfect hair (extensions and all), and shoes. I can't believe the shoes. Aside from the fact that my feet freeze on planes, I can't imagine wearing little skimpy flip flops if you're running through the terminal to catch a plane. On the other extreme, there are the mamis with the 4" stiletto heels and platform pumps. How do they do it? I have a hard enough time walking in my uber-attractive Keens, how do they manage heels? More importantly, why is it so important to look good while traveling? I know... it's all about the journey, but that can't be comfortable when arriving at the destination? Never mind fighting with the luggage on either end of the flight - and don't tell me these girls have only carry-ons...

I am off to find lunch and then off to QUITO!!!! I love flying into Quito at night... the mountains and lights are so beautiful. Hopefully the ninos will all be in bed by then. NA and PAE will be excited to see me, regardless of the situation with my hair, and say another little prayer that my bags get off the plane and through security in tact!!!

Half way there....

Aye.... Dios.... Mio....

So far, so much has gone wrong that it can't help but get right quick.

Tuesday my beloved Blackberry died, and I almost lost my mind. Instead, I lost my temper at RadioShack, and after shelling out $50 for a new battery, the damn thing died AGAIN Wednesday night! I am totally embarrassed at how technology dependent I am. So after a few mini-panic attacks, my phone was fixed (not entirely, but enough to last for the next few weeks) and I was off to pack.

Then the insanity began...

I spent the better part of 4 hours sorting, stacking, organizing, re-sorting and packing 45lbs of medical supplies. Then I took a quick trip to Walgreens, followed by more packing, laundry, cleaning, organizing. My wonderful father (*LOVE YOU*) came to Stamford around 10pm to stay over, then take me to the airport in the morning. As I was packing and checking things off my list, I had the panic attack to end all panic attacks... my passport.

Couldn't find it.

Looked everywhere.

Ripped apart my mess of a room looking for it.

Re-ripped everything apart again.


Pulled myself together.

Cried some more.

Beat myself up for being an unorganized mess.

Apologized to self.

Woke everyone up to help me look.

Long story short now, it was in a box in the corner of my room, where it had fallen out of my backpack post-Haiti. I usually do a better job of unpacking from a trip, but after Haiti, I just wanted to forget it, so my luggage pretty much sat wherever it landed for a few weeks until I could get the strength to look at it again. I guess that's when my passport fell out.

I got about 30 minutes of sleep last night, and made it to the airport in 1 piece, with 4 bags. Check in was a bit sketchy, as they were trying to make me pay $100 for a carry one bag. No. Thanks, but no. So please say a little prayer for my carry on bag, which was checked with everything else. I hope it all comes out in 1 piece - however, everything was packed in so tight I don't think there's room for breakage.

JFK has never been so much fun. I am so tired, but too nervous to sleep. I just want to get on the plane and pass out for 6 hours en route to Colombia.


Wish I Had Some Help Here

What 60 lbs of crap looks like BEFORE:

Was too emotionally drained to take an AFTER shot, but let me assure you, it was ALL packed into 1 large L.L. Bean rolling duffle, 1 small L.L. Bean carry-on duffle, 1 RubberMaid carton and a back pack...

Aye my aching back!!!!!!!

June 20, 2010

laughter from above

“If you want to make God laugh, tell him about your plans.” (Woody Allen)

Thursday I leave for Ecuador (trip #4 in 2 years...) with World Vets for a 3 week spay-cation in Ibarra. I have never been farther north than Otavalo (which is apparently pretty close to Ibarra) so it will be a true adventure! I had planned to join World Vets in Cambodia for Pacific Partnership 2010, but the universe had other plans. So I am off to Ecuador to join up with the vet (she arrived last week) and we will be spaying everything on 4 legs until our other team member arrives in July.

World Vets will be back in Ecuador at least 2 more times this year... guess I best not make any plans...

May 13, 2010

Someone needs to tell Banana Republic this was MY idea...

As seen at the Westchester Mall, White Plains, NY...

April 16, 2010

Port-au-Prince, Haiti

For anyone who's wondering or cares to know... the "Wish You Were Here" thing started several years ago as a cheap, "in yo face" kind of post card.

Since then, it's grown into a making a mark wherever we go. Half-based in being stingy on postcards and stamps, half-based in Galapagos mantra ("Take only photos, leave only footprints..."), Wish You Were Here has now visited several countries in North/Central/South America and the Caribbean, and hopefully will head to Asia this summer! FYI... you can help make that happen by clicking the Google button over there --> and making a secure, online donation to help me raise funds for airfare to Cambodia :)

I didn't have the time (or desire!) to make a "Wish You Were Here" sign in Haiti, so I photoshopped one after the fact.

Posted by Picasa

Thanks to MC for taking the original photo, somewhere in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, February 2010.

April 1, 2010

making a difference

So I've been somewhat haunted lately about Haiti and the whole experience - the dangerous situation versus the good we were able to do. The logistics, the finances, the planning, and all the Animal Welfare drama that goes along with it.

But all in all, I keep coming back to the following thought - which also helped me through a difficult, life-changing experience in Ecuador last year. It just seems like there are too many animals and never enough time. But that's not the case, nor is it important.

Adapted from The Star Thrower
by Loren Eiseley (1907 - 1977)

Once upon a time, there was a wise man who used to go to the ocean to do his writing. He had a habit of walking on the beach before he began his work. One day he was walking along the shore. As he looked down the beach, he saw a human figure moving like a dancer. He smiled to himself to think of someone who would dance to the day. So he began to walk faster to catch up. As he got closer, he saw that it was a young man and the young man wasn't dancing, but instead he was reaching down to the shore, picking up something and very gently throwing it into the ocean.

As he got closer, he called out, "Good morning! What are you doing?"

The young man paused, looked up and replied "Throwing starfish into the ocean."

The man called back, "I guess I should have asked, Why are you throwing starfish into the ocean?"

To which the young man replied "The sun is up and the tide is going out. And if I don't throw them in they'll die."

"But young man, don't you realize that there are miles and miles of beach and starfish all along it. You can't possibly make a difference!"

The young man listened politely. Then bent down, picked up another starfish and threw it into the sea, past the breaking waves. "It made a difference for that one!"

This response surprised the man, he was upset, he didn't know how to reply, so instead he turned away and walked back to the cottage to begin his writings.

All day long as he wrote, the image of that young man haunted him; he tried to ignore it, but the vision persisted. Finally, late in the afternoon, he realized that he the scientist, he the poet, had missed the essential nature of the young man's actions. Because he realized that what the young man was doing was choosing not to be an observer in the universe and watch it pass by, but was choosing to be an actor in the universe and make a difference. He was embarrassed.

That night he went to bed, troubled. When morning came, he awoke knowing that he had to do something; so he got up, put on his clothes, went to the beach and found the young man; and with him spent the rest of the morning throwing star fish into the ocean.

You see, what the young man's actions represent is something that is special in each and every one of us. We have all been gifted with the ability to make a difference. And if we can, like the young man, become aware of that gift, we gain through the strength of our vision the power to shape the future.

Vision without action is merely a dream
Action without vision just passes time
Vision with action can change the world

reprinted from http://www.starthrower.com/star_thrower_story_script.htm

March 21, 2010

updates updates updates!

Forgive the tardy posts - I wrote most of the blog entries on my cell phone in Haiti/DR, but didn't get around to posting them. I assure you, the editing was only for grammar and spell-checking, the content is totally unadulterated ;)

Also, photos of the whole hoopla (mine and everyone else's) can be found here:


Thanks to JG, MP, EF, MC, JE, RB and all the SODOPRECA, United Nations, Bolivians, and translators that helped our work in Haiti.

All in all, our efforts were not in vain - we treated 129 animals in 6 days (64 dogs, 14 cats, 3 pigs, 5 sheep, 8 chicken, 33 goats, 1 horse and 1 donkey) in 10 locations around Haiti including the Mexican camp tent city, the Bolivia UN base (Camp Charlie), a Port-au-Prince orphanage (via Bolivia), a chicken farm in Jacumel, the Lilavois 23 barrio, and everywhere in between.

March 2, 2010

still shaking....

It's been weird to be back in NYC post-Haiti. I don't really want to talk about what happened, but at the same time, everyone is asking me what it was like. Here's a quick review:

How was it?
It was hot, humid, dry, sad, depressing, and dirty.

What did you do?
We mostly gave a lot of medications to as many animals as possible.

Were you scared?
No, but I probably should have been.

Would you go back?
Yes but they don't really want us.

What was the worst part of it?
Having to jump through bureaucratic hoops to help people and animals.

What was the best part of it?
Meeting people from all over the world who wanted to help the people (and animals) of Haiti because it was the right thing to do.

February 28, 2010

halfway there...

I'm now *officially* on my way home... in the airport in Santo Domingo, past security, thru customs, and headed home.

Last night we all had dinner with the SODOPRECA gang on the malecone - it was Dominican Carnaval, so we were surprised with a firework show after dinner. I was more excited about the hot shower I had at the hotel post-airport, but feel like my soul washed down the drain with the Haitian dirt. I didn't watch TV or listen to radio in Haiti (just MP's greatest hits of the 80's over and over and over again) so I was out of the loop on current events. I didn't know about Chile. I couldn't (still can't) believe it. The planet is trying to shake us off like fleas. I sent an email to some Ecuador and Argentina friends - the news said the 8.8 mag earthquake was felt all the way across the continent in Buenos Aires. I hope everyone is OK, so far it seems like Chile got the worst of it.

Coming off the plane in DR, we were all coming from Haiti - it was strange, no one talked, no one smiled, no one moved. We just sort of slumped down in the plane seats and breathed a collective sigh of relief. Our passports weren't stamped going into or coming out of Haiti, so according to my passport, I was officially M.I.A. from February 21 till February 27th. There was also no talking, no smiling in the airport. The guy who stamped my passport smiled at me and said "Gracias por su servicio" (Thank you for your service) - that was nice and made me smile :)

Today most of our group left in the morning - JG and I hung out at EF's family's house, ate lunch, chilled out, and killed time before the airport. There was a dog at the hair salon/house down the block that had a skin issue of sorts. JG and I gave the dog an ivermectin injection and some vitamin B, then the ladies "repaid" us with a little beauty salon treatment - eyebrows and hair styles. Note the before and after pictures:

There is a delay of some sort at the airport (something about snow in NYC?? Jezus, seriously??) and there are about 7 screaming children in the waiting area for our flight. I just want to get home. This is one vacation I need a vacation from.

February 27, 2010

Adios Haiti

I left my tent and water bottle and a few other bits and pieces for Geraldo Luis in Port au Prince. He told me early this week how much he liked my tent, but it's technically not mine, it's my dad's. As soon as I said that to him I regretted it, and knew in the back of my head that I would leave the tent with him when the trip was over. He didn't even flat out ask me for the tent, but I could tell by the way he admired it he really liked it. He lost his whole family and earthly belongings in a 30 second window during the earthquake, and I suddenly felt like a horrible person to NOT give him the tent. At least I still have a father who can yell at me for "donating" his camping stuff. I wouldn't trade that for the world. Also, my luggage is substantially lighter on the way back, which is always a good thing. I will be back in DR in less than an hour, and very, very happy to leave.

God Bless Bolivia

I was beyond tired last night. BEYOND. I'm beyond tired now, but at least am sitting in the shade on international (UN) soil.

We spent most of the day yesterday at Camp Charlie - the Bolivians offered us lunch, then we chased down a "sick" dog (though I've never seen a "sick" dog run so fast!) the soldiers said needed treatment. Long story short (as you can tell, the blogging is wearing on me... as is the heat... and the stress...) the dog died, and the team has (in my mind at least) officially hit the breaking point. Maybe it's just me. Or not. Whatever.

After lunch and epic surgery fail, I was trying to find the solider who got me the awesome, first class in the escort truck yesterday; I couldn't remember his name - MP said it was "Loredo" or "Loreda" so I walked all over the base looking for him. I recognized a guy from the mess hall and asked him for help - he took me to the 2nd Colonel's office. Not who I was looking for, but was the same guy who brought us the orphanage cat the second day and a very nice man.

I was too tired to make an attempt at explaining "You are not the guy I was looking for, sorry to bother you and waste your time, Sir" so I sat down and he politely asked me "What's up?" The heat and exhaustion and truck bitchiness got to me, and I started to cry. I told him (in ever so poor Spanglish) that the dog we tried to treat died, and now we were 0 for 2 in treating Bolivian army animals. I was embarrassed that we (essentially) killed all the animals they asked us to treat in spite of their kindness, hospitality and and free food. But let's talk about how awesome Bolivia is (well... at least the little part of it in Haiti) - 2nd Col. Suarez told me the orphanage found another cat (a kitten actually) and he wanted to bring it to us to treat. Really? Really. He was going to bring it by SONAPI later on for an exam, antiparasitics, etc. I was still crying and am sure I looked a hot mess - covered in dirt, days away from a decent shower and bags under my eyes that could hold water. But he was really, truly grateful for all of us and our help. That's why I love these trips. Despite the weather, accommodations, food, water (or lack thereof), and stress, I meet the most awesome people in the most obscure corners of the world. Then, realized that maybe we were doing something good after all.

Still on the hunt for the unknown solider, 2nd Col. Suarez had one of his assistants walk me over to an office building (where I assume I will find this Solider Lorenda?) but instead, I find myself in the office of THE Colonel, Henry Loredo. Again with the embarrassment... "Lo siento. Pero usted no es el hombre que estoy buscando...." I sat down, 1/2 laughing 1/2 crying, and all of a sudden a 1/2 dozen Bolivian soldiers are running around with coffee, juice, snacks, the works. I had absolutely NO idea what to say to this man, other than gracias and how awesome the Bolivian people are, especially to the animals. I've never been to Bolivia, but if the Bolivian people are 1/2 as nice as the soldiers, I think I will find it quite lovely.

We got back to camp late, had dinner, and I passed out. I thought everyone would wake me up when the Bolivians came by with the new orphan kitten, but I slept straight through it. Also slept through another round of PTSD and a make-shift kegger with the Brazilian soldiers. I'm sad I missed the late night kitten exam and Bolivian/Brazilian UN party, but at this point, I'm at the airport, ready to get the f up outta here. I collected emails and phone numbers and I'll stay in touch with everyone some how.

Getting cranky....

February 26, 2010

Como se dice "F You" en Creole?

Everyone is cranky. There is obvious tension running through the camp. I keep telling myself it's not my fault, responsibility or problem, but it sucks that my friends (old and new) are cranky, angry and bickering. I've tried to just stay out of the way. They seem to be having fun in their own little clic, so I've just left them be. Besides, I'm too pale to sit in the back of the truck without 1,000 SPF sunscreen, and someone has to keep an eye on MP - not like I could control him if needed. I can't even drive stick (*note to self* learn how to do that)

Adding to the stress and stuff we don't talk about is MP girlfriend and her midnight screams. I swear it is like someone is dragging fingernails down my spine when I hear that - it is an inhuman sound, and is apparently the soundtrack to the Haiti disaster 2010.

The b*tch from the World Food Programme said to go back Friday morning to check on flights back to DR, so we went there first thing today - even though they said the lists wouldn't be ready until noon - everyone wanted to go, so I just shut my mouth and got in the truck. And there was no list at the airport - they said come back at noon. There was a party of some sort at the UN headquarters (I think the president of Brazil is there?) and there was a ridiculous, American showing of buffet food. MC found some Dr. Peppers while I was looking for soda at the army grocery. He said he saved one for me, but when I got back, they were all gone. I think Geraldo Luis took mine - he's probably never had one in his whole life, so I hope he enjoyed it.

I'm just generally tired and cranky, and am trying to keep my mouth shut at everyone's comments and suggestions.
No - we can't drive any faster. The roads are f-ed up and that's how we have to drive.
Yes - we have to wait until they fix the truck. I don't know why but if it doesn't work, it doesn't work. Unless you have a mechanic degree we don't know about, sit down with the rest of us and wait.
No - I don't know what's happening with MP. I'm just trying to survive the rest of the week.
No - I don't know what's over there.
No - I don't care what the Canadians are doing.
No - there are no flights on Sunday. I don't know why, but we have to deal.
Like CK said, I can do anything for a week.

We went back to Lilavois 23 this morning and treated a bunch of animals - dogs, cats, sheep, chickens and even a horse (or mule. Or donkey. I don't remember). This has been an eye ball themed trip - we saw 2 dogs with eye injuries (Jackie and a healed over eye wound on a dog yesterday) and now a chicken with one eye(supposedly from a "fight" - accidental?). There was an absolutely adorable dog named Emma that followed us around and helped MC "examine" the animals.) RB finally had to restrain her to keep her from licking the cats and chickens. There were a lot of children today, and it's crazy to see them running around the rubble with no shoes, ripped clothes, and not a care in the world. I hope they can overcome the current situation and perhaps be the solution their country needs. It's crazy how the Haitian people seem to just get over it. They aren't screaming or wailing or even complaining - life just goes on.

After that, went back to the airport and checked the flight manifest. Everyone was on the first flight, and of course, I was on the second. I really don't care - I pretended to care and asked if I could be moved onto the first flight, but wasn't surprised when they said no. It will be nice to have Haiti all to myself for a few hours without the tension.

We're headed over to Camp Charlie to try and catch the dog one more time. MP will not be allowed to touch the rabies pole this time.

to tent... or not to tent...

The Bolivians seem way more upset about the earthquake than the Haitian people I've met. The only one who shows even the slightest bit of trauma is MP girlfriend, but even she acts as if in the daytime - I don't think she's aware or conscious of her late night PTSD issues. The people just put up tents and construct shelters anywhere and everywhere - sometimes right up against the ruins of their collapsed home.

The tent city people come from 2 groups - those who lost their homes, and those who are afraid to. Many people elected to live in tents for fear that another earthquake (or aftershock) might hit and kill them too. And from the looks of it, you know people are still buried under all the destruction. They are long dead and may never be discovered. Especially since there isn't a huge effort now to dig or move rocks. Everyone has food and water, so life goes on. Right on top of the disaster.


"Terremoto" = Spanish for "earthquake"

While riding home with the Bolivian troops last night, I learned a few things about the earthquake.

The United Nations has been stationed in Haiti for several years, and most of the Bolivian troops I met had been in Haiti since summer 2009. The earthquake hit at about 5pm local time on Tuesday January 12th. The Bolivian troops play soccer every evening on the camp fields. The dogs that play soccer with them started running in all directions and howling. And all of a sudden, the ground started rocking back and forth, and the a "ripple-effect" ran through the mountains, like someone was shaking out a tablecloth.

There was no sound or rumbling, just movement.

And about 25 seconds later, the 7.0 magnitude earthquake had passed.

Within those seconds, over 1 million people were left homeless, 300,000 were injured and 230,000 were killed.

Since the earthquake occurred in the evening, most people were leaving work or headed home, which (according to the Bolivians) probably cut the death toll in half. Had the earthquake occurred during the day or in the middle of the night, hundreds of thousands MORE would have been hurt or killed.

With no warning and no sound, the people of Haiti didn't even have a chance to run. Within 25 seconds, people like our translator Geraldo Luis lost everything and everyone they loved. The entire country had been picked up and shaken like an Etch-a-Sketch.

The soldiers (most of whom had been away from home for almost a year) immediately turned their efforts to disaster relief - pulling bodies from the rubble and tending to the injured and dying. They weren't able to reach their families in Bolivia until several days later, when the phone and internet service returned. The soldiers said none of the Camp Charlie soldiers were hurt or killed. Even in the dark of the UN truck, you could tell by the look on their faces that they didn't want to talk about it.

One of the soldiers emailed me some photos he took during the first few days after the earthquake (*disclaimer*... this is some f-ed up sh*t):

February 25, 2010

Lilavois 23

This afternoon we went to a barrio called Lilavois 23 - probably one of the worst hit areas I've seen so far. Most streets here have tons of destruction and then one or 2 buildings totally fine then more destruction and so on. Lilavois was almost total destruction. There was probably 1 building standing for every 10 that fell. Lots of piles of rocks and concrete and a thin coat of dust over everything. One of our translators, A, lives in a tent city near Lilavois. He was the one who told us about the animals in Lilavois 23.

We pulled up to a farm and a man opened the gate so we could drive up onto the yard in the middle of the rubble ruins of his former home. A herd of gringos in a pickup truck seems to draw attention, so after about 10 minutes, there was a small crowd gathering on the road. And about 5 minutes after THAT, the crowd came back with their animals in tow. The man who opened the gate for us had several animals running around his yard, including pigs and goats. Goats are pretty resilient, hardy creatures, very loud, and very difficult to catch. Once they caught on to the whole Catch-Deworm-Release idea, they were doing acrobatics around the rock walls to avoid MC, the farmer, and the small group of children chasing them.

We sort of broke into 2 groups - MC and helpers and JE and helpers. RB stayed in the back of the truck (probably a good idea since she was the smallest and cutest and therefore, probably the least likely to survive a Haitian guy attack. Although she's training for a marathon... she could definitely out run them!!) She distributed supplies as we called for them - 5cc of Pyrantal here... 1cc of Ivermectin there. JG and MP were animal wranglers (god bless them, cos I can't fight with some of these huge ass goats) and I got my share of cats in rice sacks. On a side note, I love feral/wild/crazy barrio cats, and I don't know why everyone else is so opposed to them! They are way easier to treat than a huge ass angry dog, and I get extra excited to see them, since they are nearly impossible to catch, so when someone can actually get them into a rice sack for treatment, KUDOS!! A woman and her daughter (probably 7 or 8 years old) came with a very cute kitten named "Mimi". I really wish I spoke/understood more French/Creole so I could communicate with the people. I thought my Spanish was limited, but when put in a foreign situation, "Gracias" and "por favor" seem to roll off my tongue like spit. My head is going in about 20 different directions... every situation requires me to think in English, translate to Spanish, speak in Spanish to the translator, wait for them to ask a question in French/Creole, interpret, translate to Spanish, speak to me in Spanish, and then my brain translate to English... no wonder I've been asleep by 9pm every night!

There was a hysterically funny guy in Lilavois 23 who spoke English and was a VERY enthusiastic interpreter! We had to get to Camp Charlie by sunset, but told him we would return tomorrow to visit more animals. I was dying of thirst, and there was a woman on the side of the road selling sodas and candies. MC was brave and got a banana flavored soda :-x but I got a Coke. Yes, it was in the refillable glass bottle with no cap, but Coke is like battery acid and I'm sure kills off any cholera or giardia prior to ingestion.

There was a guy from Lilavois (a friend of Andre I think??) who lived a few hundred yards from the farm. He invited us to his house/tent for coconuts. As delicious as they were, I fear THAT would be the one thing to give me cholera! And apparently, you can't or shouldn't whack your machete on the ground, since that dulls the blade. Good to know.

We treated 2 pigs, 12 dogs, 3 cats, 22 goats and 1 chicken at Lilavois, and are going back tomorrow morning to treat some more. All of these numbers are approximates, since no one is really keeping track. A goat here, a dog there... pretty close.

We had to be at Camp Charlie by sunset, as the soldiers told us that's when the dogs come out to the soccer field and are easier to catch. We got there just as the sun set below the mountain, and were armed with tranquilizer guns to catch these dogs. There were a few soldiers playing soccer on the field with about a 1/2 dozen dogs. Apparently most of the dogs were already sterilized (by whom?) and were very friendly. It took a few minutes to get everyone organized and ready to shoot the dogs. There was a black and white male that was reportedly sick, so they wanted him to get caught first. Of course, he was the most difficult to catch. MC got a dart into him then MP chased him like a crazy man with the rabies pole. The dog started running through the fences around the camp, and MC soon found out the fence separated the Bolivian army base from the Brazilian. Apparently a large gringo with a tranq gun in the shadows of the Brazilian UN tanks gets attention, and he soon found himself surrounded by Brazilians with automatic weapons, trying to explain in Portu-Span-Glish that he was a vet.

After that, the dog was TOTALLY gone, and our best bet was to calm down and regroup. MP got us an invite for dinner at the Bolivian mess hall - spaghetti and hot dog with red juice and bread. Yum.
I swear I was more excited than I look :)

We never did catch the dog, but I made friends with one of the soldiers and got a ride back to camp in the UN truck (I was hoping for the tank, but oh well :) with the armed guards. It was suggested that we not drive in the dark without an escort, so the Bolivians were happy to provide. Although between you, me and the wall, they were too busy asking me questions about New York that a late night ambush would have slipped right by. Sorry guys... ;)

That voodoo that you do

"Jackie" the one-eye wonder dog from Tuesday did really well yesterday and is going home to her family this morning. We're also going to a barrio (borough/city/area) of Port-au-Prince that supposedly has a lot of animals that survived the earthquake. We seem to find out about these things on the underground veterinary Haitian railroad - it seems like someone shows up in the middle of the night with a note that says "We need help here" so then we go.

Speaking of the middle of the night... Ugh.

So I slept thruugh a 4.5 magnitude earthquake the other night which is a pretty impressive narcoleptic feat - but last night we were blessed/cursed with blood curdling screams at 1, 3 and 5am. MP has a Haitian girlfriend (apparently it's is 2nd or 3rd since he's been here?) who stayed with him in camp last night. The poor girl probably lost everything in the earthquake, now she washes MP's nasty clothes during the day and waits around for him to come back from our adventures so she can sleep in his tent at night. He claims she's 18 but I seriously doubt the validity of that statement.

I'm so tired and sore I couldn't care less. But - she started screaming in the middle of the night and it sounded like someone was skinning a live cat. Actually, more like a rabbit. I've heard rabbits scream before (not from being skinned) and it is a horrible, crazy, bowels of hell sound of sound. That what she sounded like.

There were murmuring about voodoo and other psycho stuff, but I think the poor girl has some wicked post-traumatic stress disorder night terror thing going on. Sleeping with MP probably isn't helping. I don't know where she went this morning, but she wasn't there when I woke up. Everyone is pretty cranky and tired. The voodoo screams in the middle of the night didn't help. I think the screams in the middle of the night have been the most horrifying experience to date. It's like the soundtrack to the Haitian disaster... loco

February 24, 2010

Don't Be a Menace to Port-au-Prince While Drinking Your Dr. Pepper in the Hood

Today was an interesting, interesting day. We drove almost 3 hours across Haiti from Port au Prince to Jacumel. Jacumel is on the southern coast of the island, and according to the United Nations charts, was 80-90% destroyed by the earthquake.

The mechanics came in the morning, and after a few hours of god-knows-what, the truck was "ready" and we were off. Some of the areas outside the city were unbelievably destroyed by the earthquake. Here are some photos of the road about 20 minutes outside of Port au Prince: Apparently everyone had a grand ol' time in the back of the pick up truck. Trying to avoid the scorching Haitian midday sun, I sat shotgun in the cab, MP drove, and JE and A sat in the back seat. As such, we were left out of the "loop" of the fun and games of the truck bed. Oh well.

MP stopped about 1/2 way there at a little roadside stand in a town/village called Fondwa. He went to get some sort of Haitian roadside food, and we treated 4 dogs and 1 cat while waiting for his food to cook. Here is a photo of me, JE and RB treating a cat in Fondwa:
We arrived at the Department of Agriculture offices in Jacumel after an exhausting 2 hour drive through the mountains in the truck which was actually WORSE after the mechanics messed with it this morning. There were literally goats walking on the side of the highway faster than we were driving. UGH. After about 20 minutes of English to Spanish to French to Creole and back to French then Spanish then English translation, it was discovered that the Department of Agriculture was so excited to have veterinary support, they planned an entire day of meetings, organizing, collaborating and such, and were then prepared for another whole day of treatments, clinics, and what not. They were crestfallen to know that we were actually there for only one day (today) and only for 3 hours.

I finally threw up my hands and just said "f it" to the whole situation - the only people who could intelligently argue this conversation (JG and MP), didn't say much, and every mono-lingual person had something to say about the mess of the situation.

Yes - this should have been determined ahead of time.
Yes - someone should have arranged the meetings/times/etc on the phone before we drove across Haiti.
No - there is nothing we can do about it now.
No - arguing won't get any animals treated.
Yes - we should go NOW and treat as many animals as possible NOW, and argue later.

We would have an entire 2+ hour ride home to b*tch about the piss-poor planning.
Done? Done.
Good? Good.
Todo bien? Sure, why not.

We followed the agriculture department officers to a house where there was reportedly a very sick dog - I was hot and aggravated at that point, and just assumed stay in the truck rather than pile into the 10' x 10' backyard/patio with 4 other gringos, MP, 2 translators, a 5 person Haitian family, their 3 pets, and all the neighbors that came by to see what was all the commotion. I poked my head in for just a second to hand JE some ivermectin, then wound up catheterizing and anesthetizing a dog with a huge, gaping, maggoty neck wound from a too-tight collar.
In the meantime, JE and JG treated the maggot dog's puppy and the family cat for parasites. We left the man (who spoke English) with all sorts of antibiotics and disinfectant for the dog post-op, but I didn't agree with it - even though it was under the best of intentions. It is hard enough to get pet owners in Greenwich, CT to be compliant with medications and after care - it is damn near impossible to expect an earthquake-ravaged Haitian family with no running water to flush the dog's neck wounds. But one can always hope, right?

When we got back to the truck, there were 2 dogs waiting for us with the typical crowd of intrigued people. It seems wherever we go, there are at least 10 people surrounding us (and the terrified animal(s) we're treating...) in a shrinking, oppressing circle. Several young Haitian men brought a gangly, limping Rottweiler to the truck, and told MC and JE she started limping after another (Haitian??) vet gave her a vitamin injection. Hmmm.... The vets discovered a ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) tear in the affected leg, which could be due to any number of injuries, but probably not from a vitamin injection. As such, we didn't give the dog any injections of ivermectin, and instead opted to give her oral medication, then explain to the owners that she had a "footballista" injury (as ACL tears are common with athletes). They seems to understand, so hopefully it was good.... here is the Rotti with the voodoo doctor vitamin injury:

We stopped a few blocks away and treated another 6 dogs in the street. Then the agriculture department took us to a chicken/turkey/pig farm on the outskirts of town where the vets gave antibiotics and parasite treatments to 2 guard dogs. Then we had a 2+ hour ride back. MP was racing the sunset - trying to make it over the winding, narrow mountain roads before dark. We literally coasted off the mountain road just as the light disappeared. It was MC's birthday, so MP and I wanted to try and find beer to bring back to camp. MP stopped along the side of the road just outside of Port au Prince at a "drive up" bar, where he ordered 4 shots for the guys as a birthday toast. According to MC, it was pretty nasty. But it's the thought that counts, right???
Bottoms up, boys!!!!

MC's mother deserves a huge shout-out here for collaborating with CK to get a birthday card to MC in Haiti, which was smuggled in my checked bags with 3 bottles of Dr. Pepper and a box of Snickerdoodles.

This morning, we had P put the Dr. Peppers in the refrigerator in the bank next to the campsite (don't ask...) along with JG's 3 bottles of Presidente Light (Dominican beer). JE brought a box of chocolate cake mix and sprinkles, so while we went off to find Ramon and hopefully an oven, P brought out the beer and Dr. Peppers. My elaborate plan to embarrass MC en mass was foiled, and he was already 1/2 way through a bottle of Dr. Pepper when we got back to camp. I gave him his mom's birthday card and the box of Snickerdoodles, but he was a bit buzzed from the Haitian moonshine so it took a minute to click :)

JE and RB managed to "bake" the cake in some sort of camp-devised fire oven with the cake mix and a bottle of Coke (no Dr. Pepper... that is like liquid gold!) Ramon came over with a birthday tray of dinner and plantains (!!!!) and we had quite a lovely celebration considering how long and exhausting the day was.
Ramon's birthday dinner and Josh's magic cake
Don't be a Menace to Port-au-Prince While Drinking Your Dr. Pepper in the Hood

Car problems??

We seem to have an unending supply of car difficulties... the rental car/pickup truck from the D.R. seems to have "issues" that can only be remedied by an elite handful of Haitian mechanics between the hours of 8am and 8pm. After several minutes of stupid questions and subsequent translations, it seems that the pump jockey put gasoline in the diesel engine, and thus, we have had issues for the last few days. I'm not very car savvy but I didn't see any completely obvious problems - but would think that an issue we SHOULD have would be a tire flat/blowout/etc. Regardless, we are riding MP to get the thing fixed early, since we have a day trip to Jacumel tomorrow - a city on the south coast of Haiti that was almost 80% destroyed by the earthquake. So let's hope the automotive fairy leaves an oil filter under our pillow tonight....

February 23, 2010

*Graphic Disclaimer* Eyeball Surgery

Tonight was the first night here that I stayed up past 9pm. We stopped by the hit-by-car dog's house to pick her up in our (now empty) crate. Arrived at camp just as the sun dipped below the horizon, and we were presented with the challenge of performing surgery in the dark. And without clippers. Or a proper surgery table. And it's why I love working over seas :)

The cast iron breakfast/lunch/dinner table became a surgical suite, a construction lamp and truck headlights provided illumination, a tree branch became an IV pole. MC is beyond adaptable, and managed to do surgery while sitting down in a half-broken chair at the tilted table. The dog, who was named Jackie (as in "One-Eyed-Jack") was unbelievably cooperative, and hardly flinched when we started slowly cleaning the film of dust and dirt off her humongous proptosed eye ball. MC enucleated the eye in all of 3 minutes, and then subsequently discovered several broken teeth on Jackie's right side. Graphic photos below:

Pre-Surgical Exam (on home-made exam table)
JG & P prep lights and supplies

Getting supplies from the supply suitcases

JE has total control of the IV fluid situation
It takes a group to prep for surgery

The End

When all was said and done, Jackie was resting comfortably in her recovery crate with lots of pain meds to keep her happy overnight. She was positioned between JG and my tent and MP's tent, so we would certainly hear if there was a problem overnight. Late night eye ball surgery can get you mighty hungry. That's why we're grateful for Ramon and the Dominican mobile kitchens... pasta on demand, 24/7!