A 4,000-mile house call

A 4,000-mile house call: Bringing Midwestern medicine to the Mayans

By: Carey (Checca) Sullivan

(Winner of the 1996-97 Department of Journalism’s Brody Creative Feature Article Writing Award, also published in the C-U Octopus)

Author’s Note:

Professor Harrington showed his students not only the art of literary journalism, but how to sort through details to find those that would pull readers further into the story.

For this story, I spent a week in a rural Mayan village volunteering and reporting. I shot photos of the clinics, volunteers and locals. I took copious notes. Many of the details, scenes and interactions were edited out because they were, ultimately, unnecessary. With Prof. Harrington’s help, I learned good writing comes from choosing the right details and words, and then rewriting until it works.

This piece was recognized with the Marian Boruck-Brody Award.

- Carey Sullivan

FOG HANGS LOW in the branches of the orange trees in Othon P. Blanco, a Mayan village far into the rainforest of the Yucatán Peninsula. The morning’s cool breeze carries the conflicting scents of ripe oranges and rotting vegetables across the village’s dirt streets and into its plaza. A 5-foot-long brown sow waddles slowly down the road, sniffing garbage strewn across it. I walk in the opposite direction on my way to breakfast. A skinny brown dog sleeping in the middle of the street looks up as I pass then goes back to sleep.

Buenos dias,” a few of the men gathered outside the corner store say.

Buenos dias.”

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