This week was full of adventures. I accomplished my goals of figuring out the banking process and how to get to work each day. I take something called El Metropolitano, which is a fairly new addition to Lima (I had only utilized it a few times last year). The “Metro” is a system of buses that run throughout 16 of the city’s districts, traveling in their own lanes of the main roads. It’s about an hour commute each way, so it’s a long trip, but I don’t mind; it’s a great way to see the city.
My first day at La Universidad Peruana Cayetano Heredia (UPCH) was filled with trying to find the doctor I was looking for, getting a tour from her, and then meeting the people in the parasitology lab that I’m working in. There is a medical doctor in charge of the project who sees the patients as well as several biologists who do the lab work. There have also been a lot of medical students/residents coming and going in the lab. Additionally, there is one other undergraduate student from the United States working in the lab. The people there are really nice and are incredibly eager to teach us! There’s an overwhelming amount to learn, not to mention that this is my first exposure to technical laboratory vocabulary in Spanish. We spent all week learning how to recognize the different parasites in each of the stages of their life cycles. We do this by looking at samples (usually fecal) under a light microscope. The following link includes most of the parasites that we commonly see:
Most of the samples we’re analyzing are from patients that live in the jungle, as that is where these parasites are most commonly found (although they are found in Lima and other parts of Perú, as well). The lab I am working in is focused on further understanding the life cycle of an organism called Strongyloides stercoralis, so once I become proficient at detecting this parasite in samples I’ll be ready to move forward with the project!
Here’s a little more information about S. stercoralis:
I’m usually pretty tired by the time I finish with the lab each day, but I’ve been doing my best to enjoy Perú as well. I’ve returned to some of my old “stomping grounds” such a Polvos Azules, a huge market in Lima. It was somewhat surreal being there again, as some of my most vivid memories of my time in Lima last year were made there.
Last Sunday I went to Mass and I had forgotten about the unique aspects of Mass here that make it different than how we celebrate it back in the States. For example, as soon as the priest offering the Mass begins giving his homily, another priest emerges and stations himself in the confessional. Then about half of the congregation rushes over to that side of the church to wait in line to go to Confession. Also, only about 35% of the people receive communion, while the others just remain seated in the pews. It was also interesting to see how the recent changes in the English Mass compare to how the Mass is said in Spanish. For example, the change of the response by the congregation to the priest when he says “Peace be with you” from “And also with you” to “And with your spirit” more closely matches the response as it is given in Spanish (“Y con tu espíritu”), which is literally translated “And with your spirit”.
A few days ago we bought tickets to the soccer game on Sunday. The Peruvian national team will be playing Colombia as part of qualifiers for the World Cup to be held in Brasil in 2014! Like I mentioned in my first post, soccer is a major component of Peruvian culture, so I can’t wait to partake on Sunday!
Last night my host family and I went to a theater production that my host family sister, Marita, was in at her university. She attends La Universidad Del Pacífico, one of the premier universities in Lima. The theater was beautiful, and the play was great. Although I couldn’t understand some of it, I followed the general idea and really enjoyed all the dancing. It was really nice to spend this time with them and get to support Marita in her performance!
Well, I guess that’s it for now. I’m going to meet up with a couple other American students working at UPCH and show them around my corner of Lima. Chau chau!