Aeromedicos of Santa Barbara
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Volunteer Medical and Dental Missions to Mexico



April 2003


On a slightly overcast Friday morning, three planes lifted off from Santa Barbara and one from Camarillo. Due to a huge wedding party at the Serenidad (500 guests), we stayed in town at the Hacienda and Las Casitas hotels. There was a disco party in the Plaza, so we were "serenaded" into the wee hours. All ladies and gentlemen managed to get some shopping done and we even got to play "Blitz". It just doesn’t get much better!

On Saturday morning we were greeted by the usual pickups at the "lengthened" Cadeje runway. With four doctors we were able to treat all the patients and dispense medicines. Jack Broms (orthopedic surgeon) treated a patient with an ankle fracture and was able to make use of Lola’s old fracture boot. What a great team!

The dental department was busy, as usual, with three dentists and their assistants, plus a translator to help with the flow of patients. There were the usual fillings, extractions, denture fittings and even some teeth cleaning. Go, dental, go!

Brad Chmelka, one of our dedicated interpreters, recently wrote the following:

In the three years that I’ve been a part of our team, the impressions that are most lasting are those of the people we meet, help, and get to know. Not being a "real" doctor (science doesn’t count), my roles are as interpreter and occasional copilot. We interpreters are especially privileged to be at the linguistic interface with our Cadejeño hosts, which, during and outside the clinic, allows us to get to know each other beyond just health needs. I am especially touched by the warmth and dignity of the elders and the openness and happiness of the children. There are always special encounters that become the highlights of any trip and this one had several:

  • the bravery of 8 year old little Zaira in the dental clinic, who unflinchingly endured a difficult (and her first) tooth extraction and then promptly went out to continue playing;
  • our evening house call in San Juanico to check on 65 year old Juanquina Aguilar to be sure she had the correct medicines (she didn’t; great job, Eric);
  • meeting Virginia Murillo Aguilar, the 74 year old founder, matriarch and restauranteur of San Juanico, whose eyes light up the room as she tells her stories.

As always, we can’t say enough about the helpfulness and hospitality of Jim Christopher and his wife Annie in Mulege, who can solve practically any problem that arises and who hosted us at their home with a delicious barbeque after our arrival on Friday.

And though our plane remained in Cadeje/San Juanico Saturday night, causing us to miss (back in Mulege) the usual mango margarita reward for a job well-done, we replaced it with near-drowning experiences, instead. Some reward…at least for Eric McFarland and me (now locally known as Los AeroWipeout Kings), who boldly, if unsuccessfully, tried our hand at emulating the fabled Juan Grube hanging ten at Scorpion Bay.

Many thanks to all of our team, who make such important differences in the lives of the people and families in Baja California Sur.


PILOTS: Jim Gaskin, John Grube, Frank Heintz, Chuck Montague
MD’s: Jack Broms, Eric McFarland, Chuck Montague, David Rose
RN: Judy Jensen RMA:Lola Rosales (clinic coordinator)
DENTISTS: John Grube, "the Klein Duo"—Dick and son Bob
RDA’s: Melanie Lovett, Ruth Ann Quarles, Melodi Willis
TRANSLATORS: Brad Chmelka, Bob Openshaw, Lola Rosales, Susan Grube, Dale Dixon
CONSTRUCTION/HELPERS: Jim Gaskin, Mike Crookston, Frank Heintz

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