Charlie on the MTA?


Ah …. transportation.

Often we don’t think about it too much until something goes wrong or you are challenged by your mode of transportation. You will have to forgive me as I lapse into a bit of reminicising about transportation issues from previous nursing trips.

Here in Chile I am impressed with the airport and the cleanliness of the streets and metro system. It is such a refreshing change from some of our Metro systems in USA. There are bright murals and lack ofgraffitior the tell tale smell (if you know what I mean). We have had a few adventures today as we navigate the streets of Chile with our wonderful leader, Javier C., who was born in Chile but now goes to school at BU.

Today we had to navigate the metro to the bus station, oops.. not the right station… we have to go a few blocks down to the bus station. We buy our tickets but get on the wrong bus. It worked out fine because we met our correct bus at the next stop.

Once we arrived in Vina del Mar for a visit to the coast (i.e read… “beach, sand, lots of beautiful Chilean young adults having fun). We have to take a crowded city bus but the system here is pretty good so we make it and enjoy a lovely day at the beach. The air is great but the water is pretty cold. At the end of the day, a long wait for empanadas almost caused us to miss the 2 hour bus ride back to Santiago. We arrived back around 9 a.m. (after a few mishaps on the Metro.. “did he ever return, no he never returned and his fate is still unheard”… Boston people will be humming along).

It has been a long day but the students hit the store next door for some food to munch on and I leave them to relax alone. So despite the travel glitches I am recalling transportation in other countries like Ghana where the students traveled in Tro-Tros, which essentially are larger rusted out vans that have seen better days. Today we were a bit crowded on the buses and metro but all in all it was a safe journey. I think about the challenges in poorer countries where the transportation is not that easy or accessible. Two years ago I traveled with 2 live chickens and 25 people in a 9 person van while holding someone’s sleeping baby on my lap.. This year I had some giggles about missing buses and going the wrong way on the MTA. So… this is a learning experience for all of us.

UMass Lowell students pose for a group photo in Santiago, Chile.

Again, we often take for granted our cars and readily available transportation (and the ability to read the schedule and ticket details) at home. Here we are challenged a bit in that regard. So far this experience hasn’t shocked us as much as previous trips, but the learning is still happening.

Today under the sunny skies at the beach I had some great conversations with the students about their life plans and how nursing and this particular trip to Chile fits in with their “bucket list” of dreams. We did discuss the relative comfort we have had the last few days and I hope to see other parts of Chile that may not be as “pretty,” but will show us how the people of Chile live, work and receive nursing care.

I am anxious to see Talca and other areas that are closer to the area that was hard hit by the 2010 earthquake. That was a devastating and deadly (8.8) earthquake but I am told that the area has recovered fairly well. Our work will begin next week so in the meantime we intend to explore Santiago a bit more and learn about the culture and the people.

So… we continue with our transportation challenges throughout this trip. A few more laughs and eventually we make it home.

View a photo gallery from the trip.

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