Volunteering, To the equator with hat and mittens, classes, and FUTBOL!

July 29, 2016

Day 4:

     I know it has only been two days since I last posted, but I have done and observed so much these past couple of days. Today I woke up and ate my breakfast as usual. After that, I went to the bus station and walked to my first day volunteering at Fundacion Medica Mosquera. The doctor who I am with was in a surgery when I arrived, so I sat around and waited. While I was waiting, I put on the medical white coat and the minute I did that, people started to approach me saying "Doctora, Doctora" or asking me questions. The doctor finally arrived and I observed him see his patients. He is a Doctor of Internal Medicine so many of the patients he saw had gastritis. What I did notice while volunteering today was that the clinic here varies in many ways from that in the states. It was the doctor's job to take the blood pressure, temperature, and typical things that nurse do in the United States. I also noticed that no one asked who I was or even was bothered by the presence of a stranger. Maybe the white coat made me look professional and at that moment they didn't care.

  After my first day at the clinic, I went to my final Spanish class here in Ecuador. My professor and I read, spoke, and played games in Spanish. He taught me how to play a game called "cuarentas" (or 40) because that's the amount of points one must have to win the game. After our intense card game ended, we walked to an Ecuadorian market with all Ecuadorian items. Of course I bought a little thing while I was there, but I can't mention that or the person who it's for might be reading this.

   We headed back from our walk, and I went straight to a salsa dancing lesson. The school, Fundacion Simon Bolivar, offers a couple classes here and there. Every Tuesday and Thursday are salsa lessons. It was neat to learn the dance, however it's not as easy as it sometimes looks UNLESS you're dancing with the instructor who knows what they're doing. I met tons of new friends at the class. Once the class was over, I returned home to eat a little bit of pasta with the host family and the other student before heading to bed.

Day 5:
     What an exciting day today was. It was pack filled with adventures and explorations. I started my day off earlier than the rest. First, I of course ate the same grilled cheese type breakfast and then headed to the clinic to work and observe in the laboratory. I observed a nurse take over 50 blood samples from patients. She did this all alone while the other nurse was taking the "ticket" and letting the patients know that they would call them when they're next. Their system and order of doing things is much different here than back home. They have some technology such as a couple of blood test machines and an older computer. Instead of having the patients listed on computers or official charts, they write the patients name and birthday on their receipt and then give them a number. That number is the order that the nurse will see them to take blood. Instead of stabbing people with needles, I assisted the single nurse doing the blood work. I would carry the vials of blood back and forth to where they needed to go. One of these days they said they would teach me how to take the blood samples too! I'm excited for that day.

   Another difference I noticed today was the amount of sanitariness they have and don't have. While the nurse was taking the blood samples, sometimes she wore gloves and sometimes not. There was a little baby that she was taking care of. She simply stuck the needle into the vein in her hand and attempted to drain the blood into a vial... without any gloves! I mean, just the needle in the baby's hand while the blood was dripping out and hoping it was caught in the vial. Instead, the blood got all over the floor and onto the nurses de-gloved hands. That was interesting.
     After all of the lab stuff, I headed back to the house to rest a little bit before heading to the school to meet up with Christine, another student who is from Canada. She and I headed towards the food market to get lunch with the professor Gustavo and one of his students. We ate some very good fish with rice and potatoes, and of course ceviche on the side. There was some delicious juice we had, but I can't remember the name. All of that food, and I mean it was a lot and when I say a lot... I'm not kidding, was only $4! I love the prices of things here in Ecuador. We quickly ate and then Christine and I found our way to the bus station to catch the bus to the Mitad del Mundo (or also known as the Equator.. the center of the earth).

     We took a couple of buses that each took about 30-40 minutes and finally made our way to the tourist looking equator monument. Of course we had to take a lot of pictures while there. ALSO, for those of you who don't know... the equator is NOT hot! I was expecting it to be a dramatic temperature change and be dying from heat. However, it was maybe even cooler than it was in downtown Quito. It was a pretty neat area. Of course we had to pay to get into the area with the monument, but there were also little stores and shops to buy souvenirs. There were also a couple of restaurants. Instead of eating another meal, we ate some ice cream which was probably the best ice cream. It's more ice than cream. Strawberry is a highly recommended one by me. The cool thing about the equator is that there are things you wouldn't be able to normally do, like balance an egg on a nail.

   After a little while at the Equator, we needed to head back in time for a class. We took the first bus, and then we took a taxi that took much longer than we had expected. We were about 40 minutes late for our class, but it was more of a social class. At the school, we learned how to make cocktails! We made Ecuadorian cocktails and mojitos. It was a big celebration and mingle time at the school before most of us headed to watch the championship soccer game for Ecuador (against Colombia).

   Before the game, Marilyn, another friend from California, and I decided to go to a small restaurant to eat some dinner before watching the game. We found a little restaurant in the wall and ate there. It was delicious. I had a rice dish with shrimp --similar to paella in Spain if you have ever had that. While we were sitting there, a little boy came into the restaurant and was trying to sell us gum. We decided to have a little conversation with him because he was very tired and just wanted someone to buy something. Instead, we gave him conversation and gave him a couple of cents. A sweet little boy he was. Once done eating, we headed to a bar/restaurant where the school had a room reserved for us. We watched the intense game as everyone was shouting, chanting, and cheering. Unfortunately, Ecuador lost 0-1. A sad day for Ecuador and their futbol fans, but a happy day for me considering I live on a street with all the bars around me. Not as many parties tonight that will keep me awake. What an exciting and eventful day today was though. Until Friday, goodnight!

                                                          With love from Ecuador,
                                                                     Mackenzie