Today we didn’t have a site visit, so we started the day with a morning trip to Peña de Bernal. This was the third “pueblo mágico” (magic town) that we’ve visited on this trip, including San Miguel de Allende and Mineral de Pozos. The Magic Towns program was a government initiative to increase tourism that was launched to highlight towns that are significant in terms of natural beauty and historical significance. This initiative was launched in 2001 and there are now over 100 “magic towns” throughout the country.
San Sebastián de Bernal is the city that houses the 3rd largest monolith (massive geologic rock formation) in the world! In the morning, we climbed as far as we could to the base of the monolith. On our hike, we crossed paths with an American woman who explained that her husband was helping to set new repel lines on the monolith, and that his was causing dangerous rock fall below. Because of this, we were forced to turn back early, but we still were in awe of the size and significance of this massive geological feature!
During the rest of our morning in the city, we continued to implement what we’ve learned in our Spanish courses as we interacted with the locals. We sampled a new Queretano dish — Huitlacoche (corn fungus!). It tasted like mushrooms and we ate it on gorditas (stuffed tortillas) and/or on sopes (thick tortillas with beans and meat toppings). We were excited at this opportunity to try a regional food that we had never been exposed to before. We are learning that food is yet another way we can appreciate Mexican culture.
In our spare moments, we have taken the time to dissect our experiences in terms of what we can bring back to practice as speech-language pathologists. During our site visits, we have been impressed by the flexibility and compassion demonstrated by the individuals who provide speech and language services. While the field of speech-language pathology is not well-known in Mexico, all the providers with whom we’ve interacted have been passionate in their efforts to provide the best services possible. Many parents travel long distances to access services and are not able to come to clinics frequently or regularly. Because of this, therapists have to be extremely flexible in how they administer treatment. Some therapists film therapeutic exercises, provide parent training, create manuals, and otherwise arrive at create solutions to accommodate a variety of family situations. This flexibility is something that we hope to bring back and apply in our practice as clinicians.
In the afternoon we attended Spanish class. The beginners learned names of basic colors, how to give directions, and how to give descriptions of themselves and patients. The intermediate class talked about the stages of child development and practiced giving narratives of experiences in the field and with patients. The advanced class brainstormed questions for future site visits, learned words to describe aphasia, discussed language impairment in children, and analyzed a language sample.
The beginner and intermediate Spanish speakers in our group have noticed an increase in confidence while asking questions, ordering a meal, buying items, and more! Our interactions have become more fluid and we have noticed a reduction in communication breakdowns. In addition, our participation in our Spanish classes has increased as we have felt more comfortable asking questions and taking notes in Spanish.
Tomorrow will be busy as we have two site visits!
Maria & Gina