Posted on: 03/10/2019

Author: Anne Fretes

Lenten procession Patients awaiting their turn to be seen in triage

Triage Day – Sunday


Triage – for those who don't know what Triage means, as I didn't know, one of the doctors said it simply means “screening.” Almost one third to one half of the patients who were screened today had come from as far away as Petén, which is an area that borders Mexico and is an eight hour bus ride away from Antigua. The patients usually come with at least one family member for support and they stay in a home associated with Faith In Practice, Casa de Fe. There are dormitory rooms there for the patient and one family member and enough spaces to house 100 people. If it were not for Casa de Fe the patients would need to stay with someone they know here or on the streets since they cannot afford lodging.


The patients had been seen by medicals staff in the area where they come from and had been diagnosed as needing surgery. Thus their trip here for their procedures. Once here, they got to meet the person who will be doing their surgery and then told by our scheduler which of the next four days their surgery will take place.


Early in the morning of Triage, the patients and their families arrived to a large waiting area at the hospital. What is striking as I observed them waiting is the calm that prevailed in the room. Although it was clear that some were worried about their health issues and the vulnerability they felt about their upcoming surgeries, there was no impatience, pacing, finger drumming, whining – not even by the children who were there. They did not know at what hour they would be summoned to meet their doctors or schedulers, but just calmly waited. Some were not able to be seen until the afternoon. Those of us observing were wondering how we would – or would not handle being in those same circumstances. These people are our teachers about how to be in the world.


We were fortunate in mid-afternoon to be able to witness a Lenten procession on a nearby street. There were incense, floats, bands and hundreds of costumed people processing around several large floats that were being carried with lines of people around the edge of the float that rested on their shoulders. This ceremonial procession is an annual tradition during Lent and we were so fortunate to be here at a time that we could be here to view this event!


At the end of the day we walked back to our hotel, La Quinta de Los Flores. It's difficult to describe the immediate peacefulness that is felt when walking through the gate of this beautiful retreat. There is striking beauty everywhere you look. The views of the distant volcanoes, lush greenery, colorful casitas, cobblestone walkways, and most important the peacefulness of the staff who greet us. What a blessing to get to experience staying in a place like this.


And to top things off we were fed an exquisite meal that had been prepared by the three very hardworking cooks who accompanied us on this trip! They labor tirelessly from before dawn until dusk to make sure we are fed and nourished in a most delightful way. Thank you, thank you to Brenda, John and Margaret!


Then off to bed to prepare for tomorrow's first day of surgeries. To be continued!