We arrive at Austin Bergstrom International Airport with tons of bags. It’s 6AM Saturday December 1, 2012. Including the bags previously assigned to Dr. Tory Meyer who had to drop out at the last minute due to an unfortunate accident with a “mean branch” that required surgery and prevented him from joining us. We are all thinking about him and wish Dr. Meyer a speedy recovery. Check-in started smoothly with the help of United Airlines, but the shear amount of baggage – 38 bags total – complicated the process that proved a headache upon our arrival in Guatemala City. But since this is the first surgical mission trip for the DCSGO team every step is still a learning process. We made a stop in Houston to pick up Dr. Les Garson.
It is a relatively short flight to Guatemala City. We descended past volcanos and through puffy clouds to a warm mountainous city. The tropical air and lush vegetation is was accented by lots of Christmas decorations. We arrived during daylight hours, but when the lights went out, we noticed that there are lights everywhere, in most of the public spaces. No snowmen or reindeer, but the Christmas spirit was welcoming.
After checking it at the Clarion Suites Hotel in Zone 10, we left for the Moore Pediatric Surgery Center for our tour and orientation meeting. It is a great facility. Based on the opinions of team members who have been on other medical mission trips the Moore Pediatric Center is a five-star facility. Bells and fireworks could be heard in the distance as we packed up to head back to the hotel, passed a city lit up for Christmas.
Next the real work: triage, review, scheduling, surgery, recovery, follow-up. We’ve only just begun.