Montalais is the most remote mountain village in which we work. It is a 9 mile hike from the main road and sits upon a high, red mountain. Due to its location, the area is lush. It rains almost every day. The days are warm but the nights are very pleasant and cool; excellent sleeping weather. The views are spectacular!
The hike is easier now due to the "road" which was built by hand. Montalais is accessible by 4 wheel drive vehicles but the trucks do take a beating. We minimize the trips necessary by vehicle so most of the teams still make the hike. Despite the road the hike is tough due to the steep, rocky, rugged conditions and the heat.
The trip is definitely worth it though. The people of Montalais are appreciative of the fact that we bring the clinic to them. We are always welcome with big smiles and open arms. The hospitality is second to none, even in this very humble setting. The director, or mayor, of the town, Estime, is a true gentleman who is genuinely concerned about his people, even when corruption is still present in Haiti.
Montalais is two buildings. A small guest house is where we eat, bathe, and where the interpreters usually sleep. The church, which is massive, is where we hold clinic and sleep. It also functions as a school and town hall. It is mind boggling to think that such a large structure was built by hand and that the supplies came in from the main road before vehicles could access the town.
Once we set up the clinic, each day is full and busy, from sunrise to sunset. The clinics are getting busier and most of the church benches are full of people to be seen all day long. Each doctor, nurse practitioner or physician assistant sees about 100 people a day. Common ailments include hypertension, diabetes, worms, scabies, anemia, malnourishment, fungal infections and gastrointestinal issues. Unfortunately we usually cannot see all the patients that come to the clinic, some walking hours to be seen. We are there for 3 or 4 days but time is still short. However, the people are less desperate and encouraged by the fact that we will return in 6 months. Montalais is fantastic!