Hospitalito Atitlan

Santiago, Guatemala

Dr. Tom McDonald

February 20, 2023

Day 8


I am pretty sure that this is a Tzutujil word for “Let’s go.” It is certainly spelled incorrectly and it’s the only one I have learned – sort of.

I am fascinated by a culture that has two languages – the one that it uses amongst itself and the one it uses to communicate with the rest of the world. What does this phenomenon say about the indigenous people of this hemisphere? What does it say about those elsewhere and what does it say about the rest of the world; the civilizations which have sought to expand their frontiers and those that have resisted intrusion?

Although I am not an anthropologist nor a sociologist, I think I understand some of these answers. I will leave you to your pondering because I am not an expert and frankly, some of the implications are hard to swallow. Some of the answers do not cast the history of our species in the best light. This blog highlights the positive elements of our trip, yet an extended stay anywhere will force someone to open his mind to both the finer details as well as the bigger picture.

But my many travels have taught me that, while great differences exist between cultures, the human experience on an individual and family level is universal. Today I saw very young child with a broken arm. It is a bit crooked and has largely healed. Despite the deformity, at this juncture and in this age-group, leaving it to heal is the best option as intervention would be traumatic and unecessary. The young skeleton has a tremendous potential to correct itself. And just as this would be my recommendation for a patient in Northern California, so would said patient’s Mom be as distressed about the concept of ignoring an abnormal bend in the arm – as was this little one’s. She has an otherwise perfect little girl and wants her to stay that way; a universal desire of mothers everywhere.

We want to wake up to a feeling of safety, fill our bellies, hug our kids and spouse, revere our elders, contribute in a meaningful way to our local and greater world, come home at the end of the day to once again fill our belly, laugh, celebrate, love, and be loved. I’ll bet the same has been true throughout history and in every tribe, village, and city. It’s so simple when I think about it.


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