Week 2: Part 2 - The Fruits of Hard Work!

July 18, 2018
It’s Wednesday night and I just came home from my Spanish lesson! It is my last week of Spanish lessons and I am super sad because I have really enjoyed them. Today, I came early to my lesson to watch the end of the Croatia versus England World Cup game. A bunch of people from the school crowded into a room and cheered on our respective teams. I was rooting for Croatia, so I was very happy with the results!
Earlier today I was working in the hospital and it was another wonderful day. The volunteers must switch to a new department every two weeks, so next week I won’t be in the emergency room anymore! The half way point of my trip marks the end of my Spanish classes and my switch out of the emergency room, things that I am very sad about, but very proud of! Throughout my time in the emergency room, I have learned so much, and my relationships with the medical students and doctors have been so rewarding. I wish they all could come back to Chicago with me! A few medical students in particular have been extra helpful, going out of their way to find me when they hear of an interesting patient, and letting me assist them. For example, today I was able to do an arterial blood gas test all by myself, listen to a patient’s heart, palpate various body parts, help insert a catheter, examine x-rays, and more! Some of the things are minor, but definitely common to the emergency room. If I had never gone up to these same doctors and medical students last week and introduced myself, I know that I would not have had these opportunities to learn. Now, these experiences have become comfortable and familiar to me, and when I return to the US, I will be so much more confident in a clinical setting.
I have spent the last few days wondering how I can thank the people who were so kind to me. Anyone have ideas? The thing is, their help has been invaluable to me, and I don’t think anything can truly reflect how grateful I am. My trip happened so quickly. Only a few months ago, Ecuador was not even on my radar; I merely knew Ecuador was a country that simply existed. Now, Ecuador is a home across the world. The people I have met in the hospital, on the streets, at school, all have taught me something different. To make these human connections, whether they are in your hometown, or in an unfamiliar place, is one of the greatest gifts life has to offer. And there I go, getting all sentimental and it’s only the start of my second week!
Fruit at the MarketAnyways, yesterday was Tuesday and was also a phenomenal day. My Spanish class combined with another class, and we went to a market to work on some food vocabulary-specifically fruit vocabulary! In America, it is easy to feel like we have everything. I was very surprised when I arrived in Ecuador and there were literally dozens of fruits that I never even knew existed! We went through all of the fruits, learning their names, trying them, and describing their tastes. I definitely got my daily dose of vitamin C! We had a wonderful time laughing at all of the funny faces everyone made when eating the particularly sour fruits (like the naranjilla). It was definitely a class to remember.
After class, I had another salsa lesson! Usually the same instructor teaches the class, but this time there was a different instructor. It was very interesting to see how his teaching style differed from the other teacher’s, and I think the changes helped teach us to be quicker on our feet (literally and figuratively). I think my moves are improving- another skill I hope will follow me back to the US!
Lastly, after dinner yesterday, my host mother gathered all of the volunteers in the house together to learn to make chocolate! We went from having a pile of cacao seeds to eating a delicious chocolate fondue with strawberries, bananas, and raspberries. We were all able to help with the different steps of the process. I got to grind the cacao into super small pieces, which were then mixed with water, milk, sugar, and cinnamon. It was super delicious and I was so full and sleepy my head almost fell into the pot of chocolate! I never thought I would be a part of the chocolate-making process, I only thought I would be part of the eating process!
Anyways, it’s time for dinner! I hope you enjoyed reading about all of the things I have been learning throughout my time here. Please keep on reading!

Catch up on Monika's adventures in Ecuador! You can read her previous blog post here: Week 2: Part 1 - Exploring Mindo!