Can you believe it: my time in the hospital in Ecuador is over!!! What an adventure it has been!

I have now been in Ecuador for almost 5 weeks and been involved in a variety of pre-operative clinics, operations, obstetric / gynaecology procedures and ultrasound sessions. I have experienced medicine in a very different, more paternalistic culture to NZ and the different challenges that this creates.

VicabambaI have also had the opportunity to experience a huge amount of the country, both with the surgical bus and with my own travel in the weekends – with another med student, Amy from the States. We have been south to Vilcabamba – the valley of longevity, and ridden horses and climbed hills. We found a crazy park in Loja, which has mini Taj Mahal, Big Ben, Eiffel Tower, and ostriches of all things, and it was a family activity to go and watch the biker boys on the skate park!

When we returned from here, we headed with the surgical bus to El Pangui, in the Zamora province, close to the Amazon. We operated here for 2.5 days, which was shorter than normal, due to storms in the area taking out roads, so patients couldn’t get to us. It did mean that we experienced the most intense thunder storm of my life, and as we were travelling on the bus to Macas, we watched the road turn into a river!!

Host FamilyWe’ve explored the Amazon outside of Macas, seeing scorpions, snakes, monkeys , bats and sooooo many bugs! We swam, walked, tubed, ate local foods and relaxed, and then hitch hiked back from our tour with our guide!!

Finally, we made a day trip to Incapirca, the largest Incan ruins in Ecuador. From here we travelled to Alausi, to go on the Nariz de Diablo (Devil’s nose) train – it is super steep, climbing about 600m vertically in less than 10km. The day was great, learning lots of history and getting to know the bus system well, mystery bus foods and all!

All this travelling has meant that in the last 10 days I have spent about 40 hours in buses. Good thing that I am good at sleeping on transport!

I have been out to salsa clubs, and dragged around the dance floor, having very little idea about what I am doing. Great fun though!! We even tried to go to a salsa class, but on arrival quickly found it was extremely basic and we were the oldest people there by over 15 years… so promptly left. But having spent time in salsa clubs has definitely highlighted to me that in general, white people cannot dance nearly as well as their Latin American counterparts.

JumpLeaving Cuenca, and my new friends has been sad – it was hard to say goodbye to everyone today. People have been so accommodating of my terrible Spanish grammar and willing to make me a part of their lives, for which I am incredibly grateful.

Currently I am sitting in Guayaquil, waiting for my flight tomorrow morning to the Galapagos! It is unbelievably hot, and coming down from the mountains of Cuenca, suddenly the land becomes flat. It looks incredibly bizarre, like I could imagine seeing the Canterbury Plains for the first time could too.

I have 6 days in the Galapagos, before heading to Zambia! It’s hard for me to decide which I am more excited about – going to the birthplace of the idea of evolution, or going to check out Africa and meet up with a friend, Rosie for the first time in over 6 weeks!! So many fantastic opportunities!