Today was an amazing day. We woke up thinking we were going to the shelter for a while, but it turns out we were going to the beach for most of the day to start off surgery week! First though, we ate breakfast at the hotel where most of the surgeons are staying. I really liked this kind of fried dough called sopapilla. Then Shannon, Pam and I walked around the town. We saw the local church just as a mass was getting out so we got to look inside. It was very modern which was unexpected. We also went into a little gift shop which was an interesting combination of a drug store, school supply store, party supply store and gift shop. But get this, it was called a bookstore...
Next we were headed to Eugene Altieri's beach house which was an hour way. We drove through some pretty poor parts of David which was a bit eye opening. I also just saw a horse tied up on the side of the road. And there are lots of palm trees.
In order to get the house, we needed to drive along the beach. We sat in the back of a pick up truck and speed along the sand! It was wonderful! The house was incredible and they were so nice to have us. Mr. Altieri welcomed us saying "This is your house! It's very informal, do anything you like." We walked along the beach and then spent hours in the pool. The water here is so warm! It was so relaxing, I felt like there wasn't a worry in the world!
In the pool we talked a lot with Joseph, a plastic surgeon who spoke English very well, which was nice. He introduced us to coconut water! They cut a hole in the top of a little coconut and stick in a straw. It's very refreshing. Lunch was delicious and for dessert I had coconut candies and a little candy that tastes like "dolce de leche".
On the car ride home I learned a lot about Operation Smile Panama from Roberto, a plastic surgeon. Panama was the first country to be self sufficient with OP Smile surgeries! He talked about what an impact cleft lips and palates have on the children, especially the ones from Indian descent. They all think it's a curse. The parents won't come to seek out help because they are too embarrassed, the doctors need to go and find the children, sometimes up in the mountains!
Now we're back at the hotel, definitely ready for some rest! Tomorrow is the first day of surgery, but we're going to be back at the shelter giving presentations and playing with the children. I can't wait to see them again!