The final countdown…

I’ve always liked countdowns. Counting down till my birthday, Halloween, Christmas, the end of finals, things like that. I’ve never liked counting down my days here. Ecuador is home just like Minnesota and Nicaragua are home to me. I feel like a small part of me is missing and I’ll only find it when I return to this wonderful country.

The most delicious fish ceviche :-)

Our final clinical placement was in a private dermatology clinic named Centro de la Piel or CEPI for short. It was a very beautiful clinic, the most like the US that we had been in thus far. We had the privilege to shadow a few different physicians, but the main physician this week was Dr. Santiago Palacios. He reminded me much of Dr. Hidalgo from Hospital Eugenio Espejo for those of you that have been following along since the beginning. Very calm, happy demeanor. He wanted us to teach every case like a story and to illustrate that he had puppets made out of cork that represented different cells he wanted us to play with :)

One of the puppets.
A graphic on the outside of the clinic.

I got to see some very cool things this week including a mole removal, black light observation of discolored skin patches, cryogenic therapy for warts, in between many dermatological consultations. Needless to say I was never bored!

We were only in the clinic till Wednesday this week as Madeline and I wanted to spend some extra time exploring! On Wednesday, I went to lunch with a friend we met in Baños and had encebollado… The hands down BEST thing I have eaten thus far in Ecuador. Wow. It was like a potato and fish soup like ceviche but hot and wow oh wow I could eat it for every meal, every day of the year and twice on Sunday! So many things I want to try and make when I get home!

On Thursday, Madeline and I ventured out to Teleférico in Quito. Teleférico is like a cable car thing that takes you up a mountain so you can see all of the volcanoes surrounding the city. Once at the top, you also have the opportunity to hike up to an inactive volcano. We seized the opportunity right up! We rode horses for the first 45 minutes which was sooooo awesome! At about 11 out of 14km we decided to turn around and head back instead of heading to the top because it was getting very cloudy and it’s pretty dangerous to be stuck up there if you can’t see and if it starts to rain!

Horseback riding up the mountain.
That’s a volcano right there!
Jumping for joy!
Selfie with my sweet sweet friend!

Friday we woke up eaaarrrlllyyy (5am) to catch the bus to Papallacta — a small town a few hours outside Quito that is known for its hot springs. What we thought would be about a 3 hour trip turned into a 5 hour trip, but the long bus ride was worth the soak in the volcanic water at the spa! There were 5 pools that we had access to in the spa, each a different temperature with different amenities such as beds or faucets of running water. The spa was set literally inside a mountain and we could saw cows roaming the hillside from the pool :)

We made it!
What you see when you first walk into the spa area!
My favorite pool, it had beds you could lay on ❤️
Selfie with my ever flattering head cap :-)

It was definitely hard to leave the spa knowing we had about a 5 hour trip home but after our final dinner at home (so sad) we headed out to La Ronda with Daniela and David, our friends who own Maracuyá, a gluten free and sugar free bakery in Quito. Seriously some of the best people I met in Quito. I will miss them so much. They took us to first see the basilica at night, which was absolutely breathtaking! There was even a Queen Elizabeth party bus next to it :-) meant to be! Then we went to walk around La Ronda which is a walkable area in Centro Historico full of restaurants and bars and shops. There was a makeshift Halloween celebration down there when we went so there were street performers and artists and all that cool jazz! It was so cool to see and walk around down there! We tried canelazo, which is a warm naranjilla juice served with alcohol. It was very good! Then we went to a cute little bar that Daniela and David like and all had an Agua Loca. I can’t tell you what was in that because I have no idea — it’s some sort of secret and it’s a darn good secret because it was a dang good drink! It was warm and spicy and served with a lime. Next order of business — find the recipe online.

Agua Loca!
Daniela, David, Madeline and I :)
Selfie on the Basilica steps!

On Saturday morning, Madeline and I just laid in bed to avoid getting up and facing the reality that was our last day in Ecuador. When we went downstairs, Bachita was making a cake for us to celebrate one month of living in Ecuador :-) she is the most wonderful woman and was the most amazing host mother. Things could not have been better living there. I know I always have a home to go to in Ecuador when I return as long as Bachita is there. She told us that the cake would be done around noon so we headed out to the artisanal market at parque El Ejido in the morning to buy a few more trinkets before we had to go home.

The whole family!
We will miss you, Bachita!

Our arrival back at the house at noon was greeted with the cutest, most delicious, pink frosted, decorated with peaches tres leches cake. We sang a make shift version of happy birthday to celebrate our “happy month” and then ate and took some “family photos.” :) then we said goodbye to Bachita and headed out to a late lunch with another friend, for encebollado and ice cream of course :) I feel very content that my last meal in Ecuador consisted of encebollado and coconut ice cream.

All of our luggage!

Madeline and I had a bit of trouble leaving Bachita’s to get to the aerotaxi bus… Apparently Saturday night there was some sort of metal concert in Quito right by our house so getting a taxi was basically a non-existent option. Just as the doctor who was spending time with Bachita’s sweet mother was about to call another company, another doctor who wasn’t supposed to come over Saturday nights waltzed right in and was able to bring us to the station. Talk about IMPECCABLE timing because we pulled up to the station as the bus pulled into the lot. We were off. We were sad. And it was so hard to say goodbye, especially to Madeline. But it was an amazing month. Unforgettable. Life changing.

A sad goodbye in the airport :( it’s only a see you later!

Thank you to everyone who has been following along, supporting, or praying for me. I wouldn’t have been able to have the experience in Ecuador that I did without all of you. I have learned so much about the kind of healthcare provider that I want to be from the phenomenal providers I’ve shadowed in this country and have also rekindled the love I have for serving those without adequate access to healthcare. I am so thankful for this opportunity and cannot wait to experience something totally different in India in just a few short days.

Now, for a little R&R in good ‘ol Minnesota with my wonderful family.

Hasta pronto, Ecuador. Gracias por todo.

Elizabeth

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