January 2011

Until the last day we are wondering whether we will be able to fly with all the snow chaos around. But everything works out fine.

In La Paz the nail-biter concerning transport goes on; strikers are blocking the main street. The young taxi driver knows the secret paths and takes us safely to the hotel. He tells us that the political situation has been very tense during the last three days because after the subventions have been omitted, prices for fuel and diesel have doubled.

During a New Year's party we are introduced to the two chairpersons of “Consorcio Enlace”. We decide to postpone the discussion about a possible cooperation. On this New Year's Eve, a collective feeling of happiness has spread over town. In his New Year's speech, President Evo Morales has withdrawn the doubling of the fuel prices and the strikes are finished.  

Instruction starts in new premises for us. We spend a very concentrated weekend with the topic 'provings of remedies'.

At the teaching practice, more anamneses and a number of follow-ups are waiting for us, all with trainees from the student group. Some of the first anamneses are very moving.  

Later on huge hailstones are falling onto the tin roof  and are making so much noise that we have difficulties understanding our patients...summer in La Paz...

During the first week we visit a critically ill patient at the hospital of the Cuban physicians in the southern part of town. Following a year-long rheumatoid arthritis, she has developed allergies against cortisone and antibiotics. Now she is suffering from a generalized sepsis. Within two days under our treatment the young woman is considerably better. Yvonne, the homeopathic doctor, is also present to be able to continue the treatment in our absence. The hospital of the Cuban physicians is small, very nicely designed and has a very personal and caring atmosphere.  

In the evening we have a meeting with Rosario from the Consorcio Enlace, a governing body for different organizations, who offers us a classroom and a practice room. Rosario is working with incredible power.

She asks us whether we could take over a project in the east of the country (Beni, Amazonas) because the natives there are living in one of the most neglected regions of Bolivia, in extreme poverty and with insufficient medical care. But it is only possible to go there between March and October – during the rain period the unsurfaced roads are bogging down in mud and the village population is often cut off from the outside world for months.  

The second course weekend takes place in a room provided by a student. Wonderfully concentrated work on pharmacological pictures. Instruction is a lot of fun, especially when one of the students gives a short presentation and two others very lively depict persons suiting our homeopathic remedy.

In the evening, we are invited to a “little discussion” about classical homeopathy with philosophy students. They said since we did not have much time there would be no need to prepare anything. When we enter the room, seventy curious faces are expecting us and a pompously announced lecture: “Primera Conferencia de la Medicina Homeopatica“ (first conference on homeopathic medicine). We have two minutes for a concept. Then we give a 90-minute lecture on homeopathy. The participants ask interesting questions, and it turns out to be a successful performance.

After our last practice day we go on an excursion with our students to the “Museo de Coca”, partly because the students asked us to teach the homeopathic remedy “Coca” during the next instruction / course weekend. In the indigenous culture, coca is firmly anchored as foodstuff and in naturopathy.  

The last  course weekend has come, another nice weekend with the topic “chronic anamnesis” and many practical exercises on anamnesis techniques. After the course we visit a friend from the Ministry of Traditional Medicine who is in hospital and has asked us for help with his illness. It is nice for us that we can return his favors from the beginning of the course.  

On the last day we have two important appointments. One with a student who has suggestions for the improvement of our project and, after a one-hour discussion, goes home quite satisfied. The other one with an acquaintance, the former senator. We have an interesting talk with him about how he can support us. For example, he is friends with the health minister and wants to support a legislative proposal for alternative medicine. He would also be ready to support a Bolivian organization for homeopathy in fundraising activities.  

We say goodbye and dash to the hostel, where the taxi is already waiting and the reception personnel meanwhile knows us so well that they bid us farewell with affectionate hugs. Our trip ends like it has begun: a blocking of the highway. Two minutes after our departure it dissolves and we arrive in time at the airport – the travellers' gods are with us.... Adios la Paz   

Birgit Lehmann und Anja Kraus

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