Week one in the books!

I have officially survived my first week here in Ecuador. Thank you to all at home who have been thinking of and praying for me! This week feels like a whirlwind. Monday and Tuesday I had a combined 13 hours of Spanish class. Yes, feel free to gasp. It was long but wonderful! Our teacher’s name is Daniel and he is from Ecuador. He is young and relatable and speaks French and English, too! We spend a lot of time just talking to each other which has helped my speaking skills immensely. From now on, we only have Spanish for a few hours in the afternoon.

A view of Quito from a mountain side road.

On Tuesday, we met Dra. Susana Alvear, the medical coordinator for my program here in Quito. She is a family practice physician and is very wonderful. Everyone here is wonderful so if I mention someone from now on just assume they’re wonderful, okay? We have weekly meetings on Tuesday afternoons to discuss our clinical experiences and just overall how things are going in Quito!

A shameless, blurry bathroom selfie on the morning of our first day at the hospital.

On Wednesday, we had our first clinical day! We are in the Hospital Eugenio Espejo this week and next week. It is the biggest hospital in Quito. The doctor we are with is Dr. Patricio Hidalgo. He is a hematologist and probably the happiest, smiliest, bounciest doctor I have ever met! He works mostly with patients with leukemia but we have seen a few others who have blood related infections or something of that nature. It is very hard for me to see a few of the patients with leukemia. I spend most of my time holding back tears. There is this one room in particular where I’ve had the hardest time. Two girls with leukemia are being treated in this room and they are polar opposites. On one side, the young girl has leukemia and now tested positive for blastoma this past week. She is also going blind due to a tumor. To her left, there is another girl about the same age who just finished chemotherapy but is being kept in the hospital due to stomach ulcers as a side effect of the chemo. She is never without a smile. It’s as if these two girls are completely separated by an imaginary wall. On one side, those who live there are only allowed to see the world in gray and with pain and sadness. On the other, life has color and meaning and there are reasons to smile. I feel sad knowing that at the end of next week, I will not know what happens to either of these girls — will they be okay? I can only pray that they are taken care of.

Madeline and I eating mango and guava flavored meringue in a cone. It is very common to see people selling this on the street and we just had to try!

I just want to take some time to tell you all about my wonderful friend, Madeline! She is from California and wants to be a nurse. I couldn’t have hand picked a better person to be here with me. She is funny, laughs at my jokes, and loves to talk just as much as I do. She has been doing an excellent job of showing me around Quito and making me feel at home here! I already know I will be so sad to leave here but thank God for giving me another life-long friend.

I had a pretty amazing weekend in Ecuador and, for the sake of those who don’t want a 20 minute read, I will be posting another blog about my travels to Otavalo!

Te amo,

Elizabeth

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