After an exhausting day of traveling and a long night of sleep I woke up in San Jose, Costa Rica excited to see what VIDA had in store for us. We started our day with breakfast at the local Denny's which offered us food like gallo pinto, a popular breakfast dish made of beans and rice. After breakfast, we met with another VIDA group from the University of Arizona for our orientation. The feeling in the room seemed to be that of apprehension and eagerness, we were all unsure of what to expect. Right away we began to learn about what our clinic days would be like and what we should all expect from this trip. We learned how the clinics would be set up and that our days would be long and sometimes challenging, but always rewarding. VIDA explained to us that each clinic location would be different and that they could range from being outdoors with dirt floors or indoors but that each location would be very different than what we were accustomed to in the United States.
Right from the start we all knew that this trip would put us out of our comfort zones. Since the majority of us have never done surgeries before, I can speak for myself (and probably most of us) to say that I was nervous. After learning about how the trip would run we jumped right into suturing. Luckily for most of us, this was a skill we already knew the basics of. Nevertheless, the group from the University of Arizona had no exposure to this and so it was nice to be able to put our skills to use and help teach the undergraduate students suturing techniques.
We had an odd number of students in our group and so once everyone got paired up, I was the odd one out. This meant that I would be passed around to dance with our dance instructor, VIDA staff members, or hotel workers. After only dancing for a few minutes all of us started to become more comfortable and put aside any embarrassing feelings we may have started with. As I looked around at all of my trip mates I noticed everyone laughing and having a good time and I knew then that this would be a great trip we would never forget. Once our dancing lessons were over, we boarded our bus and headed for our first clinic location, the Orosi Valley. I had no idea what to expect in terms of the places we would be staying, but this hotel was more beautiful than I ever would have expected. Each of our rooms had incredible views that overlooked a mountainous valley.
I was rooming with Tara and Jess, two girls in the class behind me that I did not know very well but would soon become great friends with. That night we had an authentic Costa Rican meal at our hotel and went back to our rooms for an early night sleep. Tomorrow would be our first day of surgery