Monday, January 28, 2008

Ecuador Beginnings

Thursday, January 24, 2008

I have been terrible about writing since I have come to Ecuador. Part of the reason for that is because I have very limited computer access, but the biggest reason is limited time. I feel like every extra ounce of energy that I have is put into learning Spanish. I spend a lot of time trying to understand what my host family, patients, and nearly anyone around me is saying.

Home sweet home:

I arrived in Ecuador on January 12th; I was picked up by my host mom, brother and sister.

My host mom’s name is Patty, she doesn’t speak any English at all, and she spends a lot of time trying to hold a conversation with me. It can be very exhausting because she seems to think that if she speaks even louder Spanish that I will somehow understand what she is saying. Patty doesn’t work she spends most of her time cooking, cleaning and keeping up appearances. Patty makes excellent food; she loves to make fresh juice from fruit here in Ecuador.

This is my Host mom 'Patty'.

She and I both like the same foods, and I think her children are relieved that she has someone else to ‘talk’ to. She likes her house to be in perfect order. I make my bed everyday, but no matter how I make it I come home to find that she has gone into my room and remade my bed the way she thinks it should look. When I first began to unpack in my new room Patty was very helpful. She made sure I put all of my items in the exact drawer, closet and corner that she though they should be in. I am lucky in that I have my own bathroom. When I come home each day I find that Patty has arranged all my toiletries in a line along the counter organized from tallest to shortest. It probably doesn’t say much for my character that I make sure at least one item is out of place each day before I leave.

Raul is my host father he speaks a little bit of English and he is very nice and easy to get along with He was unable to pick me up at the airport but I met him later on my first day. He does his

best to understand my pathetic Spanish and when that doesn’t work he lets me speak in English and he tries his hand at understanding me. He works 6 days a week and he is the President of some utility company.

Danny is a 19 year old who is taking night classes at the same University where I will be taking my Spanish classes. He is very seldom around he goes dancing in the evenings after school and sleeps in long after I have left for clinic. He speaks the most English when I am desperate to communicate something to my family I wait for him to come home.

This is the view from the patio on top of ours.

Karla is 17 years old she is still in high school and goes to school only in the mornings, which is normal for kids in Ecuador. She speaks a little bit of English but it is her least favorite subject in school. Most of the time when I see her she is on the phone with her friends. She does not go out much without her family she is at home most evenings and she is usually around if I have any problems. She doesn’t like to practice her English but she is patient when I am trying to say something in Spanish.

The home of my host family is very nice, it is

three stories with marble floors, and it has indoor plumbing and electricity. We can’t drink the tap water due to parasites but my family boils water and then keeps a cool jug in the refrigerator. There is no hot water, which isn’t a big problem since it is so hot here, but sometimes I dream about those days when I could take a long hot shower. The first floor has the kitchen and two rooms that I go through with great care. They have very nice furniture with plastic on it to keep it clean they are very elaborately decorated with lots of breakable things. I avoid these rooms as much as possible. The second floor has four bedrooms, and a TV room. My room is the furthest away from everyone’s and is next to Karla’s room. I have my own bathroom and a window that overlooks a very dirty alley. All of the windows have bars on them although they are decorative bars. The third floor has a patio on the roof that is used for entertaining guests it has a bar, a barbeque grill and lots of tables and chairs for parties. I have only been on the third floor once, when I first got my tour of the house.

The neighborhood where I live with my host family is called La Garzota. It is fairly nice with reasonably clean streets I walk about 4 blocks to my bus stop and when I first started leaving the house I was terrified I would get lost. Addresses are very difficult to understand here. Many of the streets are listed as dates such as ‘the 9th of October’.

These are pictures of the inside of my host families house: things are covered with plastic and I'm sort of afraid to go into some of the rooms.

The clinic

In the mornings I go to a clinic in the ghetto of Guayaquil called Luchadores del Norte. It is located in an area where labeled as the ‘invasion.’ Several yeas ago the Ecuadorian President decided that the way to help the poor people in the rural areas was to make it easier for them to live in the cities. So he passed this crazy law that if the people set up their houses over night on the outskirts of the city than they could not be arrested or moved by the police in the morning. Many of the houses people made began as tents, and then they modified them by building with

bamboo. A bamboo house usually lasts about 3 years so they would have to rebuild or add brick and cement. Eventually the government provides electricity and sometimes running water they even pave the roads in some areas, but for the most part they have neglected to provide waste management and a way to get rid of the sewage. As a result there is garbage everywhere and sewage in the gutters.

The first day I arrived at the clinic we were unable to see patients. It had rained so much that one of the walls was threatening to fall in and this could potentially bring the clinic down on its occupants. So while the clinic was being repaired we went around going house calls. We went

from house to house giving vaccinations; it was quite amazing because in some of these little bamboo shacks there were sometimes up to 14 people living there. We did house calls for nearly one week while the clinic was being repaired.

One week later the walls of the clinic was repaired and were able to see patients. This was so hard for me and Kerri (Kerri is the classmate who came with me to Ecuador she lives with a different family but we work and go to class together.) Not only do the patients speak Spanish but they speak with a lot of Spanish slang that we are not familiar with. For the most part we see only children, with colds, the flu and a few other ailments. But we have seen 2 cases of Dengue fever and 2 cases of Chickenpox in the last week. We also had a family come into the clinic with

TB. Seeing these patients has required me to think outside the box a little bit more. They often have disease that we do not expect to see. There are a lot of kids who come in with diarrhea and it turns out they have a parasite from the dirty water and dirty food. Many of the people go barefoot and pick up infections in their feet as well. The medications we use here are nearly the same as they are in the US but they cost less due to the government’s involvement. Many of the antibiotics and other mediations do not require a prescription. So far I have found that only narcotics require a prescription.

The below pics are of my room, and my bathroom in my host families house.

I analogize for any typos and strange sentences I blame it on trying to learn another language.

No comments: