Laguna del Carmen

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Three of us spent the day in Laguna del Carmen, a village outside Pinalejo.  As far as natural beauty, this village is close to Eden.  The village lies on the side of a mountain about 3,000 ft above sea level with a breathtaking view.  In the area around the school, there are orange trees, coconut palms, mangos, and banana trees.

We continued to teach basic hygiene — hand washing, teeth brushing, de-worming, and fluoride treatment. We treated about 80 children.  I observed the teeth of several children with missing or broken teeth and significant decay. 

Dr. Tino treated about 125 adults and children.  This village has been so isolated that little health care was available.  Consequently, it appears the whole village turned out and most expressed their thanks for this service.

The needs of the village are evident by the most casual observation.  The most striking was the need for health care.  The village also needs a new kitchen at the school.  The orginal wooden kitchen was destroyed by termites, so they are building a new one of blocks.  The village is amassing the materials needed to construct the new kitchen.  But, one sticking point is sand.  It is needed for the cement to make the foundation, floor, and mortar for the blocks.  Sand is available in Pinalejo, but access to the village is so tough that the village hasn’t yet found anyone who will deliver a truckload at an affordable price.

Our efforts were not without reward.  A boy, who could not have been more than 10, scaled a coconut tree well past the cluster of coconuts and “kicked” a dozen or so to the ground.  He then slid down and, picking up his machete, proceeded to hack them open.  All of us, including Dr. Tino as you can see in the photo, enjoyed fresh coconut water (we call it milk, they call it water) and pulp.  We learned from our translator, Daniel, that there are three stages in the maturation of a coconut.  In the first, the nut’s outer husk is green.  At this stage, the milk is very sweet.  The beginning of the pulp inside is jelly-like and sort of sweet.  Maynor really enjoyed scooping out some for him to enjoy and Allen to sample.  At the second stage, the outer husk is yellow with dark spots.  Then, the pulp is sweet; the milk has given up its flavor to the pulp.  All of us enjoyed both the pulp and the milk of the ‘tree-fresh’ coconut. The third stage,which we did not get to experience, comes later when the coconut begins to germinate.  The milk and pulp form a “frothy” texture and is as sweet as honey, according to Daniel.