Back in the 1950’s, the United Fruit Company was the company that owned the banana plantations in the DR. When the US left and the company disbanded, the people nor the government took advantage of what was left. . Each banana community is called a batey and we would visit a different one each day as a mobile dental clinic. We would set up in discos (open air dance halls) and run power off the generators we brought. Every morning we woke up at 6-6:30 AM, had breakfast at 7 AM, was on the bus by 7:30 AM, arrived at the location by 8:30 AM, pulled out suitcases of dental supplies off the bus and set up, registered patients and worked until 1 PM. Then we had a half hour lunch break, worked until 5 PM, cleaned and packed away our supplies onto the bus, left by 6 PM, got back to the orphanage by 7 PM, ate dinner, took showers, had some free time to spend with the orphans, and went to bed. Each day was very long and exhausting.
The first Day of dental work was in an area where the rich Americans stayed back in the 1950’s.
On the shuttle bus to our first batey
A pool from back in the day
I did registration everyday. This entailed handing out numbered bracelets and then calling the numbers and getting the persons name, age, and where it hurt. I would then let them wait in one of the five chairs inside the disco tech. The main language in the DR is Spanish and all I know how to say is hello and count 1-10 so it made for some interesting pantomime.
The lines were crazy. These people would stand around hours in the heat, sometimes with children just to try and be seen by a dentist.
Hard at work