Todos Santos 2010 – The countdown is On!

Supplies, supplies, supplies. Do we have everything? Do we have enough of everything? Will it all arrive at the same place, at the same time, and will it all be intact? That is what is filling my brain right now. Our 2010 visit to Todos Santos is days away now. Dr. Tracy Cornish and our head technician Marjolaine Perrault are heading down in a matter of days for the pre-project scouting/organization effort. This involves a hundred different tasks, including, but definitely not limited to, picking up some supplies from a local veterinarian, arranging housing for us all, getting clinic rooms finalized, advertising the clinics through posters and radio announcements and touching base with our municipal government contacts and Peace Corps volunteer. Complicating the number of items that must be dealt with before the rest of the team comes to town is the fact that it takes A LOT longer to complete tasks in Todos Santos than it does in Canada. The rest of the team arrives at the end of next week. We will all be in Todos Santos by November 14th and our clinics start the next day. We are excited. And I am sure somewhat nervous.

Our project this year will be similar in many ways to our previous trips to Todos Santos. We will be chemically sterilizing male dogs with Esterisol and surgically spaying female dogs. The team is a bit smaller, with 3 veterinarians (Drs Kate Kuzminski, Tracy Cornish and Roberto Martinez) and 3 technicians (Marjolaine Perrault, Anne Marie McPartlin and Catalina Zapata). Every team member is a returnee, except for our new technician Catalina. Sadly we will not be joined by Dr Enid Stiles this year. (Its not too late to change your mind Enid!) What will be different, however, is that we have two exciting additions to the project this year. The first is that we have been asked by another remote village of Todos Santos, San Martin, to help with their canine issues. As a result we will spend 3 days there vaccinating dogs against rabies and chemically sterilizing male dogs. There are no guest houses/hostels in this area, so we will be billeted with local families. This is something new for us…and could be interesting considering many people still speak Mam, a Mayan dialect, in Todos Santos. Our smiles will go far I hope. The other exciting addition is that Dr. Roberto Martinez is working on a children’s play that will focus on dog bite prevention and improving the nutrition for the dogs that live with them. We all can’t wait to see this big guy in his dog costume. We promise to post some pictures…..

And as I scurry around making last minute arrangements and hoping that our duffles fit everything we want to bring down, I reflect on our task ahead. We all know it will be hard…and uncomfortable…and exhausting. But we also know what a great opportunity is before us. We are so fortunate to be able to make this trek, back to a place that is very near and dear to our hearts. I know we will do great things because this team is great. And committed. And we believe in the project and in improving the lives of the people and the dogs of Todos Santos. It is a long way from Canada, and not every one will get why we do what we do. Why we travel so far to help a community so high up in the mountains that some days I swear we are above the clouds. The truth for me is that we all live in one world. And we are all responsible for each other. And if we don’t, no one else will right now. So for me it is easy. The sheer gratitude demonstrated to us by the people of Todos Santos is overwhelming. We don’t need to speak the same language to know what our attention to their dog means to them. A smile says a thousand words……

Todos Santos here we come………..