Craig Blackwell, MD

Santa Cruz, CA
Diplomate: American Board of Ophthalmology
Fellow: American Academy of Ophthalmology

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An Ophthalmology Practice in Santa Cruz, CA

Guatemala Clinic Intro Part Two

April 22nd, 2008

Baggage claim at the Guatemala City airport, with boxes of supplies loaded on a luggage cart.

We arrive at the Guatemala City airport with our luggage space allotted to medical and surgical supplies carried in ten to twelve large cartons or duffel bags. Time to clear customs with equipment and medications depends on whether they want to inspect some, none, or all of the boxes. Mostly they seem to be looking for outdated medications, which they will confiscate.
Piling into a minivan we leave for a three hour drive to Santo Tomas. From the capitol city at elevation 5,000 feet, we first head west and descend to the coastal plane, toward Escuintla. The scenery is striking, with smoke spewing from perfectly cone-shaped volcanoes. At low altitude sugar cane grows in abundance with occasional plantations of rubber trees with attached little buckets gathering sap. In February you share the two lane highway with double trailers hauling massive loads of cut sugar cane to processing plants. After heading north for a couple of hours we turn east and ascend into the hills at the base of the volcanic range. At middle altitudes coffee plants are everywhere, growing under a canopy of taller shade trees.