Service visits days 6 & 7

After traveling through some of the northern mountains and plains of Nicaragua early last week, it was a pleasant change of pace to simply hop into a microbus on Friday (July 2) to visit Reuben at the Centro de Salud clinic in La Concepcion (in the department of Masaya), and then to hop in a taxi for the short trip to the biological research station located on the shores of Laguna de Apoyo.

La Concepcion, Centro de Salud, Masaya

As a 3rd year nursing student, the connections between Reuben’s service assignment choice and major are fairly clear.  His role as a student nurse at this public health clinic allows him to get an insider’s look at how urgent care is provided, the focus and provision of community-based public health programs, and the pharmacy.  His two weeks in public health were probably the most varied, including everything from checking the expiration date on snack foods for sale at local pulperias, to inspecting chickens, to treating standing water to kill mosquito larva.

Laguna de Apoyo, Proyecto Ecologico Estacion Biologica

The Laguna de Apoyo is a lake that formed in a drowned volcanic crater.  The slopes surrounding the laguna are protected from further development, and the lake itself boasts a few fish species found nowhere else on earth.  The Proyecto Ecologico is an international research station that is striving to document and protect the unique ecosystems of the laguna.  Austin and Jacob are assisting with a range of projects — tree seed drying and planting, planting and tending young trees as part of the reforestation efforts, planning a tree planting day for community youth, and helping collect moths.

The research station itself is located at the shore of the laguna, while Jacob and Austin’s host families live up on the rim of the crater.  This means a steep hike down to work every morning (estimated change in elevation of 350 meters), and the reverse hike up at the end of the day.  Rain means treacherously slippery slopes, and a bus ride instead of a hike.  Austin and Jacob promised their fellow SSTers that they would go swimming every day, and report that they are doing their best to fulfill that promise.

With this entry, all of the students have been visited!  We (and the students) are anticipating that these next two weeks will go smoothly (and quickly), leading the students into their final days at their service locations before we all re-gather in Jinotepe to hear stories, learn about everyone’s final projects, and wrap up Nica SST 2010.