From two missioners in Santa Cruz, Bolivia: On Sunday evening, we took a brief but bumpy flight from Cochabamba to Santa Cruz - what a difference in temperature and scenery! The city of Santa Cruz is in the tropical region, so it is warm and humid. It is more modern than Cochabamba, with better infrastructure (street lights, street signs, etc). Although our group clearly sticks out as tourists, I felt comfortable in both Cochabamba and Santa Cruz, although I certainly have found Santa Cruz much easier to navigate.
Monday morning the whole team went over to the San Juan de Dios Hospital to meet with the Bolivian neurosurgery team. What an amazing and welcoming group of doctors! They began by introducing themselves and giving us a detailed background of neurosurgery in Bolivia and the role the hospital has played. Each of our Solidarity Bridge neurosurgeons then introduced themselves and described their particular expertise. Afterwards, as the Bolivian and U.S. teams mingled and got to know one another better, the hospital provided a huge spread of Bolivian food -- delicious! It was a very warm and happy meeting, and the shared admiration between Bolivian team members and Solidarity Bridge was clear. Dr. Richard Moser told them he was "happy to be home again in Bolivia."
The Children's Hospital is a couple of blocks away from San Juan de Dios Hospital, so Dr. Roberta Glick and Dr. Art DiPatri walked over to see patients, consult with the Bolivian pediatric neurosurgeons and prepare for the surgeries they would be doing together the next day. Dr. Moser and Dr. Weaver remained at the adult hospital to consult on the upcoming adult surgeries. That afternoon, Dr. Moser performed a surgery to remove a tumor.
Monday night the whole team went out to dinner at a beautiful restaurant named Bistro la Casona. Juan Lorenzo's brother Nano (short for Fernando) met us there and it was a joy to meet him and share some stories with a native Bolivian. The food was amazing! While waiting for our food, Sarah and Nano taught us how to play the Bolivian dice game "Cacho", which the game Yahtzee is based on. Great fun for our first evening, after a very fruitful first day in Santa Cruz!
- Onalie Sotak & Sarah Hinojosa