Posted by Howe Q. Wallace on Friday, June 14th, 2013
This is the decompress day on our trip. The surgeries are complete. The team completed 90 cases. We feel blessed.
We were speculating last night on what the cost of those 90 surgeries would be in America. We arrived at an average of about $10,000 a case. Which would mean that the services provided to the Guatemalans were approaching $1 million.
Another of our surgeons reminded us that would be the pure cost of the surgeries. In America, we would have done an assortment of costly scans and tests for each one for the purposes of “defensive medicine.” That would have driven the cost well over $1 million.
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So, after a last set of rounds to check on remaining patients, the team takes some time to explore Antigua, which is a tourist destination in Guatemala.
It is loaded with historic sanctuaries, all Catholic. I’ve yet to locate a Protestant church building though I know they are here.
Antigua is close to a couple of active volcanoes. One erupted last year about this time. Smoke and spew can frequently be observed.
Some of the team headed to a local coffee plantation where there is a series of zip lines to ride to explore the jungle canopy. Others took a walking tour of the city. Some of us are headed to an orphanage this afternoon. Some are just doing the local shopping.
The street is full of vendors trying to eke out a living. In Antigua, there are many service workers. Labor is cheap, so power equipment is rare. Gardeners trim with clippers and sweepers sweep with palm fronds lashed to a pole. There is nary a blower or powered clipper to be found.
It’s hard to know the mind of the Guatemalan worker. But, having been here three years, I see the same people doing the same thing. Eager to serve.
In America, we are blessed to be able to aspire to greater things. When talent, ambition, and hard work are combined, we frequently have those aspirations met. Not sure these folks here can hope for the same. Yet, there’s a smile on their faces. It’s a culture difference for sure.