Saturday, September 7, 2013

Mongolia: Take 4

Air China flies LAX to Beijing at 2am …. I’ve been on that flight three times in the last 12 months.  There is no way to mince words on this one, it is a miserable flight. LAX is all but shut down when you arrive through security. There are no restaurants open to distract you as your body screams for your bed and a nice pillow. But alas, you have the fuselage to lean against for the next 12 hours of leg cramped travel.

So I jumped on that flight again last Sunday for my fourth trip to Mongolia. Fourth trip. Mongolia. I will again come clean, I never envisioned myself writing those words. Ever.  Call me crazy, but here I am.

We arrived in Ulan Bataar without incident and were greeted by Enkhe and Chuck and take-out Hazaara Indian food. JQ and I immediately, and aggressively attacked the Naan, butter chicken, and curry lentils right there in the parking lot of the Chingiss Khan airport – no shame, no pride, curry dripping down my chin. Ahead was a 4 hour bus ride to Darkhan and two long weeks of nothing but protein bars – the naan had to be conquered while it was still warm.

This year, most of our team is new to Mongolia. JQ and I know the drill and have grand plans to keep everything on track. My co-surgeon Oscar from Toronto (via Columbia) has significant international experience in tele-mentoring. Peggy from St. Louis is a nurse who has built a hernia surgery project in the Dominican from the ground up. Chad from North Dakota is a tech rep who has done previous work setting up telemed in Haiti. And Eric is a medical student from Salt Lake going into radiology.

Once that naan was history, we learned that Peggy would be delayed one day. We set off on the bus to Darkhan with plans for her to join us the following day. And at the end of our bus ride, we learned that we had only one translator for our time here – and that he was also the surgeon we were to be training … thankfully, the next day we got Peggy and the final two last minute additions to our team Okoo and Undush our translators, Mongolian life navigators and mother hens. With a complete team, we are set to teach some surgery, make some friends, and have some truly memorable Mongolian adventures.

Oscar, Eric, Tulga, Chad, JQ in front of the Hospital

Oscar, Chad, JQ, Eric and the OR

Mongolian Sunset

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