Mole, Arroz y Tortillas (To Eat or Not to Eat?)

By Rich Lopez
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February 14, 2010: “You are what you eat.” Many of us have heard this expression and it is true in Boulder and in Mante. That is why Elizabeth, a dietician, is an important resource at the Clinic. During intake, we hear similar stories about intestinal problems, high blood pressure and diabetes. Many of these ailments can be controlled by diet. This year Elizabeth has many props to help deliver her messages. Test tubes are filled with sugar that represents the amount of sugar in a Coke. Other test tubes illustrate the amount of lard contained in corn tortillas. These graphic illustrations are effective as you see the patients’ eyes widen in surprise. Tortillas are eaten with most meals and the challenge is to encourage patieints to reduce their intake from 6 per meal to 2.

Dietician

Sunday at the Clinic sees lower volumes of patients. This is expected, but it gave us a chance to enjoy a Sunday afternoon meal with Petra, a Mante teacher who spent one year teaching science at Angeline Middle School in Lafayette. When we arrive at Petra’s we learn that she lives in a small family compound with three houses, all occupied by family members. In the center of the compound is a large shaded patio with comfortable chairs. This makes sense because Mante’s summer are extremely hot and humid. (There is a local joke that “when a person from Mante dies and goes to Hell, they ask the Devil for a blanket.”)

There is an outdoor kitchen and nearby is a large ceramic bowl of “chicken mole” simmering over an open fire. Soon, nieces, nephews, in-laws and grandchildren arrive and before long, there are 25 people representing four generations. This is a Mexican style nuclear family. After everyone is settled down “almuerzo” begins. Mole, rice and conversation. Petra’s family includes educators, a med student, TV/video producer and other professionals. Her mother is the matriarch and all activities seem to be coordinated around her. It’s very comforting to be there with her family. PS, I only ate two tortillas.

MoleAbuelita

Temas de Corazon (Themes of the Heart)

By Rich Lopez
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Novios
Novios

February 13, 2010: Tomorrow is Valentines Day, the day of love and lovers. Although Valentines Day originated in the US, its popularity knows no bounds. This day is alive and well in Mante.

On Saturday, the Clinic opened for patients on a sunny day. Most of the Coloradans basked under the warm sun. Busy doesn’t quite describe the morning. Hundreds of patients, young and old were waiting to see a doctor, PA or nurse. Some had waited a year to see a doctor. Others hadn’t seen a doctor in years. Some of their ailments are visible, like the man with a growth the size of an egg on his ear or the woman with the yellow ocher skin.

Intake is an importat part of the process. At the Clinic “medical”translators don’t exist, but soon our translators are identifying ailments, medicines and organs. Some of the patients are nervous, others stoic and some entertaining. For example, a short elderly man started his intake by flirting with Susan. When she replied with a “Mi Amor” the comedy began. We were chucklng by the time he left to see his doctor.

Today the surgeons examined the patients and scheduled surgeries for the rest of the week. Sarvjit an ENT surgeon from Loveland is back again (“gotta pay my rent for being on the planet!”). He examined a young boy with a tumor inside his ear. A “cat scan”is needed. This is an expensive procedure and approval from the DIF (department of social services) is required. The fear is that the tumor might be malignant. So his mother is weeping quietly while someone comforts her. Tomorrow, the boy will be examined more closely while he’s under general anesthesia. If the tumor looks malignant the boy’s scan will be scheduled for Monday. Then, more decisions and posibly more tears.

Adult Intake

Sunday the surgeries begin. The teams are prepared, the instruments in place and the patients scheduled. Tonight, there will be prayers, candles will be lit and tomorrow lives will be changed.

THE FULL MANTE Vol 12, No 1

By Jean Bedell
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BIEN VENIDO…WELCOME… to Cd. Mante, and to the 12th year of the FULL MANTE. What is new and different this year? There are fewer of us, totaling about 90 folks. This is due mainly because the EYE TEAM has not come. That means no cataracts, no pterygiums, strabismus repairs and no lenses distributed. We have a urologist with us but not an abundant supply of GU equipment. The supplies ALL arrived on time. The welcoming reception and inaguration of our 20th medical campaign will be on Monday, instead of Saturday. This is to accommodate the busy schedule of the wife of the governor of Tamaulipas. There are some intergenerational participants with Arjun Gill, Joey Macsalka and Andrew Bedell. Continue reading “THE FULL MANTE Vol 12, No 1”

Daily Camera LTE – Mission to Mante: Improving quality of life

By Jean Bedell
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Can it be that ‘2010` has more than one meaning? Indeed it can. It was 20 years ago (1990) that the first group of health care workers traveled to Mante, Mexico. At that time, we were a group of 24 doctors, nurses and ancillary personnel who accepted the call and invitation of Dr. David Rodriguez.

Our goal was to provide medical care to poor persons in that mountain community. Sponsored by Boulder Rotary Club, Boulder Community Hospital and First Presbyterian Church, we saw many pediatric and adult problems, and completed surgeries in the local Civil Hospital. Conditions were not always ideal: the laundry was boiled in vats of water behind the hospital and hung out to dry.

The 2010 Medical Campaign is Feb. 10th to Feb. 21. Just short of 100 volunteers, we will likely see over 4,000 patients, and may complete about 300 surgical procedures. As our numbers have grown, and the procurement of high-tech medical equipment has increased, so also has our ability to provide more complex services to local residents.

Some procedures provide positive and dramatic outcomes such as the woman who had a 45-pound hernia removed. Rosa, age 12, had no external ear and cartilage was removed from her rib to fashion a cosmetic external ear. Parents of other children with congenital anomalies can only be given words of encouragement. A breast cancer support group meets regularly and openly to help women deal with the physical and psychological issues of cancer. Physical therapists provide hundreds of wheelchairs and walkers. Audiologists fit almost 200 children and adults with hearing aids.

And, it was 10 years ago that Boulder and Mante officially became sister cities. Our sister city relationship has blossomed with teacher exchanges, middle school student exchanges, cultural exchanges and assistance for a special needs school.

Susan Osborne, mayor of the city of Boulder, has declared Feb. 12-20 Boulder-Mante Week in recognition of our 10-year association as sister cities.

And so, an additional focus on 20-10 celebrates our 20th year of the medical campaign to

Mante and our 10th year as sister cities with Mante.

Read more: Letters to the Editor – Feb. 13 – Boulder Daily Camera

Daily Camera LTE – Mission to Mante: Building a cultural bridge

By Rich Lopez
Visit his blog on The Daily Camera

At time when U.S. health care has been the topic of newspapers across the country, there is another activity that continues quietly. This year marks the 20th time that physicians, nurses, technicians and volunteers travel to Mante, Mexico, at their own expense, to provide free medical care to poor and unemployed citizens. Last year the team, lead by Mike Moran from Boulder Community Hospital, saw 5,000 clinic patients; performed 257 eye surgeries and 263 surgical procedures. The team received more “thanks” in a week than anyone could imagine.

In 2000, I had the honor of traveling to Mante to sign the Boulder Mante Sister Cities proclamation. Over time, student and teacher exchanges grew from the relationship. Today, a retired Boulder fire truck still protects citizens in Mante thanks to the generosity of the late Tom Eldridge. The mural that graces the north wall of The Dairy Center was a gift from Mante, painted by Florian Lopez.

This year, Jeannie DeMarinis assembled an art show that will travel to Mante to be displayed in the Ramon Cano Gallery. The show will include paintings of the Boulder area, artistic kites by Airworks and Elizabeth Black`s Ditch Project slide show. Mante citizens will be able to visit Boulder through its artists. We`re building more cultural bridges.

The city of Boulder has declared the week of Feb. 12-20 as Boulder Mante Week. We invite everyone to follow the activities this year by visiting http://missiontomante.pmpblogs.com or http://boulder-mante.org.

Read more: Letters to the Editor – Feb. 9 – Boulder Daily Camera

Hangin in Mante

By Rich Lopez
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Florian kiteYuki Mikle

February 12, 2010: Team members gather in the lobby of the Hotel Monterey for coffee, jugo and conversation. The first day of unpacking the supply trailer and warehouse we well. Today the hospital and clinic teams will clean and arrange table, tools, and supplies in preparation for the first day seeing patients, Saturday.

It’s a beautiful day, sunshine warm, unlike yesterday that found us flying through rainstorms from Houston to Tampico. Volunteers are the key to efforts like the medical mission. People become inspired by the work and come forward. A man, Gary, is a Mante native who spent 5 years in the US. He speaks English and wants his daughter to practice her English. So both have volunteered. Gary has a pickup and I asked him to drive us to the Gallery with the traveling “art show.

Lamya Deeb

We arrive at the Ramon Cano Gallery and find Florian in an empty room. That’s about to change. First we assemble the kites. Florian and his assistants are amazed with the “comet” kite. Eyes widen as the “comet’s tail” is unfurled. Next comes the bird kite. It too brings grins. Soon they are suspended from the ceilings.

We need to frame a few more paintings. Florian asked the municipal carpenter to build the frames, they’re beautiful. As we are arranging the paintings, we catch up on important matters. Florian’s two sons are now married. They are both engineers living in one of the larger cities. Their daughter is 14 and like many young teenagers, spends a lot of time in front of the mirror. His wife, a multi-talented artist herself, is now writing. Florian has painted some fascinating murals since The Dairy Center mural.

The Ramon Cano Gallery was the first municipal gallery in the state. It opened July 1972. The first show included art from, Frieda Kahlo, Jose Clemente Orozco, Diego Rivera, Ramon Cano, and Lucio Tenorio. The show ran for a year. Our Boulder artists are hanging on the walls of greats.

By Rich Lopez
Visit his blog on The Daily Camera

La CometaFebruary 11, 2010: Travel is demanding. It looks like the “art show” will fit in our bags. The kites are another matter. Now to add some background music, Peter Kater (former Boulderite) and Cirque de Soleil (international), should do the trick.Pajaro del Cielo

Traveling through security with a long bag of kites proved to be daunting, but not impossible. At first the TSA officials couldn’t decide if the bag of kites could be carried onto the plane. Finally, they said give it a try. It worked.

Houston: a couple of hours later we sat down with a couple of team members from Fort Collins. Cozane is a surgical nurse coming to Mante for the second time. I asked her why she pays for her ticket to come to Mante and work really hard for a week. “ It’s the people who amaze me. They wait quietly for hours to see a surgeon, then go through a surgical procedure and sometimes walk out of the hospital a few hours later and go home. They never complain.” David is a pharmacist who works for a commercial drug store. His response was similar. “I know these people are nervous and I speak Spanish to them and try to calm their fears. ”

Everyone is excited anticipating the start of the medical mission. The Advance Team has unpacked boxes and boxes of supplies. Friday, they will finish setting up the Clinic and Operating Rooms. Jeannie and I will set up an Art Show and hang a couple of kites. We’re excited too.

The Mission starts today

By Rich Lopez
Visit his blog on The Daily Camera

mantemural1

February 10, 2010: The Boulder Community Hospital Mante Medical Mission starts today. The first teams flies to Tampico Mexico this morning. We fly in mulitple groups because the Tampico airport cannot accomodate large jets. This transit bottleneck is a minor challenge, but means some team members will spend a few extra hours getting to know the George Bush International Airport. Once we arrive in Tampico, we gather our bags and go through customs. Then it’s time for a bus ride to Mante. Typically, we arrive late in the evening at the town square. There we meet our host families who will house and feed us for the next week. This is where the friendships are established or rekindled. Some of us will stay at one of two hotels, the Monterey or Hotel Mante.

The Mante mural symbolizes the relationships between Boulder. The flags and eagles of both countries provide the backdrop to the natural symbols of each city; Boulder’s Flatirons and Mante’s Nacimiento (a cave where the Mante River is born). The sun and the moon represent the permanence of the relationship. What is special is that transformation of the “stars” on the American flag into “peace doves” traveling to Mante. The doves represent the members of the medical team who travel to Mante to heal and treat their citizens. Check it out on the North wall of The Dairy Center. Makes you tingle.

The medical supplies have either been brought by truck in January or have been in storage since last year’s mission. I’m a little worried because last year, I was in charge of the inventory and packing of 150 boxes from the Medical Clinic. “Rich, what happened to the 8 inch catheters?” “Yo Lopez, where are the 2 inch bandages?” Please let there be 150 boxes!

Bonnie Iris "Tarde de verano"

Bonnie Iris “Tarde de verano”

El Espiritu De Las Ciudades Hermanas

By Rich Lopez
Visit his blog on The Daily Camera

Audrie Mergelman
Audrie Mergelman
Valerie Meyers
Valerie Meyers

Picture 377 February 7, 2010: It’s a snowy Superbowl Sunday. Last year I was flying to Mante during the game and didn’t learn the final score until hours after the final gun. This year Jeannie is in her studio, mounting, framing and packing the last of the 50 paintings we will take to Mante. The show is entitled “El Espiritu De Las Ciudades Hermanas” “The Spirit of the Sister Cities.” The show hopes to depict some aspects of Boulder: it’s history, the influence of it’s geographical location and the importance of nature in the lives of it’s citizens.” Some of the artists are professionals, while others are “citizen artists” who have other careers; therapist, mathematician, architect and teacher. What they all have in common is a love of their town and a desire to paint it. Almost all the paintings are “plein air” which means painted outside, in the moment, and on location. Sunday afternoon we picked up a couple of kites from George Peters and Melanie Walker of Airworks Studio. The kites are spectacular and festive. We’ll suspend them from the ceiling of the Ramon Cano Gallery. Florian just emailed that the Art Show opening will be Lunes (Monday) and he has a surprise for us! Que Bueno.