We got back from Pucallpa yesterday morning. I wouldn’t say it’s the most beautiful place I have ever been to and not a Peruvian must see that’s for sure but we had a great time there. We were mostly visiting Martin’s dad and it was good to spend some time with him and get a sense of where he lives and what he does. He and Nina adore each other. It was also good to introduce him to mum and Keith who met us their after traveling down from Chulucanas. Although, he is in charge of security for a wood company and it was pretty depressing seeing so many trees been cut down though.
We also went for a trip on a boat along the river. Not the amazon but connected to it. We went with a woman Martin’s dad knows who took us to the community she is from where people still speak their indigenous language. It was a gorgeous little town and as always I was moved by how generous people are in welcoming us into their homes.
Probably Pucallpa’s biggest tourist attraction is a floating restaurant on the river where we had a lovely meal.
Apart from that we spent a lot of time hanging at the hotel. We were all keen to relax a little especially Mum and Keith who were in between a lot of moving around and the hotel had a pool which was all Nina wanted to do.
We also spent a day in Lima on the way there and back. Most people know I don’t really like Lima that much but this time I had a lovely time. We mainly hung out with Martin’s oldest nephew who took us to his place. His suburb had a great feel to it We also visited Lima’s water park. It was truly amazing. Just a lot of fountains really but they were so beautiful especially at night with all the lights. The park was designed to make people aware of water and how to use it better. There was lots of information about it to read. I didn’t realise that Lima is the world’s second largest city in a desert. It was sad to say goodbye to mum and Keith who continue their adventures in Cusco but I guess it won’t be too long until we see them again.
It’s good to be home though. Really there ain’t nothing like it. Traveling is great and such a privilege but can be tiring too especially with an almost two year old.
I feel pretty happy right now. It’s 9.30 at night, Nina is asleep and I’m listening to some Damien Rice as I sip on my red wine and write this post on my comfortable lounge. Damien Rice does make me feel a bit nostalgic and nostalgia is a bit of a bitter sweet happiness sometimes but mostly sweet in this instance. Mum and Keith have just been here and we had a special time showing them around Chulucanas and the surrounding area. They left Chulu two days. They are heading slowly down to Lima visiting a few places on the way but we will be seeing them on the weekend again when we all head to Pucallpa to see Martin’s dad. Pucallpa is in the jungle and it will be my first experience of the jungle so that’s exciting.
I am also happy because Martin just submitted his second assessment for his masters. It’s been a lot of work for him and he’s been rather distracted. I am happy to have him back at least for a few days until he has to start working on the second one. I have been trying to help by proof reading and that’s hard enough. I think more than anything it has shown my ignorance of agriculture and probably science in general. Lucky he knows that bit. My dad once said that he thought we were happiest when we were just about achieve a goal, when it was in our reach but we hadn’t quite got there. It makes sense in some ways, that we feel happiest when we still have something to strive for but I really think I am happiest when I have just achieved it.
I guess I am also generally happy because I have wonderful husband and daughter (and I should appreciate them more). I also have friends and family who make me feel loved and valued and I mostly enjoy my life here in Chulucanas and the privelege of living in and travelling around another country. Sometimes I feel like I would like to be doing a bit more here and feel frustrated that I can’t seem to get achieve some of the things that I want and struggle with feelings of inadequacy. There are also feelings of guilt and pain from my past but I am strengthened by the grace of God in my life and my faith brings a deep joy to my life.
Anyway, I had a little moment of synchronicity when I realised that happiness was my next topic as just a few days back we got to talking about happiness with mum and Keith. We were in a little restaurant in the mountains of Peru. It was a breathtakingly beautiful place but the poverty was glaringly obvious as it is in much of Peru. That day we had interacted with a number of people in the community there for different reasons and this had got us discussing the age old topic of poverty and happiness. Are those of us who are not living in poverty any happier than those who are? In general I find either argument on this debate unhelpful. To say that people living in poverty are much happier than us often glamourises poverty and takes away the fact we have a responsibility to do some thing about it. On the other hand to say that life for them is totally miserable takes away some of their dignity and diminishes the fact that their lifestyle is equally as respectable if not more than ours.
But I shouldn’t just disagree without having an opinion of my own I suppose so here a few scattered thoughts. I know that certain basic needs have to be met for happiness to have a chance, eg if you are living in constant fear or always hungary or cold it would be hard to feel happy. Having a sense of being loved, valued and belonging as well as having a sense of purpose and satisfaction influences a lot on happiness as well. And I feel that comparison plays a big part and that envy is soul destroying. Thus if everyone around you is living similarly to you it easier to be poor than if everyone else around you is rich. Finally, it is commonly known that depression and suicide is more common is more “developed” countries but I also know that there are certain luxuries that help me feel happy but maybe that is simply because I am accustomed to it. Sometimes I feel guilty too about being happy in a world of so much pain but I try not engage that much. While of course it is important to be acknowledge other people’s struggles and thus be grateful for happiness and to not take it for granted, guilt serves no-one. I am grateful for happiness.
I actually started writing this post Sunday 5th August but didn’t finish it. So this is actually what inspired me on that day.
On Friday I had my second birth. It didn’t go very well at all. I won’t go into it all here but the woman on duty that day wouldn’t let me in. By the time I got there they had decided to give her a cesarean. I told her that I still wanted to go in as the woman, Jovany, would be really upset as she had really wanted a natural birth. The nurse told me she was fine. I told her their are emotional sides to birth as well as physical ones but she ignored me. I waited around for awhile wondering what to do and then Jovany came out to use the toilet. I spoke with her for awhile and when she came out of the toilet she asked me to come in with her so I did. When they nurse found me giving her a massage she asked me to leave. Jovany said she wanted me to stay but the nurse said I couldn’t. I then said that she should be more focused on the needs of the patients than of herself which didn’t get me any more on side and eventually I agreed to go.
I went back during visiting hours and I found Jovany recovering from her operation. I asked where the baby was and she said she didn’t know. She also asked me if the baby was okay and if it was a girl or boy. No one had bothered to tell her. I went to found out and found the baby all by itself in a crib. I asked the doctor if I could take the baby to her mother and he said no. I tried to explain how critical these moments are for bonding and attachment and practically begged him but he wouldn’t even look at me. So I went and told Jovany that all was ok and that she had a little girl, which she had wanted. Then I went back to sit with the baby. I sang to it for a little while but then they told me I had to leave again. I decided there was no point fighting. I was totally uninspired and had decided to give up.
Today though I told my cousin who works as a driver for the hospital. He told me that kind of treatment of patients happens all the time and worse. The horror stories he told me of medical professionals who give no respect to the patients and have no regard for their well being was awful. However, amongst these awful stories he told me how he in his role as driver tries to offer a smile where he can and tries to listen to what they are feeling. He told me how on numerous occasions he has fought with doctors to get them to help someone who they don’t want to because they are not insured. My cousin has a pretty low level job in hospital and is also not always respected by the doctors but I was inspired by how in this position he tries to make a positive difference where her can. His kindness really shines a light on their disregard.
This really inspired me to somehow keep trying. It made me realise how important these little acts of kindness are when someone is sick or in birth or dealing with the hospital system. While I am still very angry and frustrated with the hospital he made me value the little things I was able to do for Jovany, which at the time felt like nothing. And she must have valued it for when I visited her the next day in the hospital she told me she had called her baby Emily.
Since starting that post on August 5th I have met with the director of the hospital. She seems a bit in denial that that kind of thing is happening but she assured me if I write a letter she will ensure that all the nurses know who I am and will let me in to support women in birth not matter what kind. I had thought that would already happen but I hope coming from the director I won’t have this problem again. I have also visited Jovany and baby Emily a few times and they are doing fine. She is really disappointed and angry but we debriefed it all and she is trying really hard to make up for the time they missed together when she was first born. She is also a very inspiring woman.
For those of you who may be wanting to know I spoke with mum and Keith and they had arrived safely to Quito and despite been a bit tired were having a good time. Currently they are their way now to meet me in Loja.
I am off too to meet them. I have to renew my visa, I’m currently and illegal and I will travel with them to Peru. I am excited to see them and to show them around this other home of mine.
It will be my first night away from Nina. I hope Martin doesn’t give her too much junk food. I’m kind of excited about that but also a bit sad, although no reason to be at all.