Friday, April 28, 2006

a relaxed approach to work

those who have been online this week will know that i've only managed to make it into work for part of monday and thursday! when i arrived on monday they told me that the consultant wasn't here, not sure why- still the language problem; so i could either stay or go... so at 8.30am i found my self with a free day. i've spent most mornings this week trying to catch up with spanish and conjugate yet more verbs (i don't think i worked this hard at school) i've also managed to get the worst t-shirt burnt skin on my back, its now just a big criss cross of white and red stripes! um gorgeous.
wednesday evening was a staff do with the hospital. wonderful, i thought a chance to practise my spanish in a slightly less formal setting- WRONG. there were 14 of us in total for a very posh (but definately tasty) meal. my spanish at this stage certainly does not extend to dinner party conversation and so i was a little out of my depth. one of the doctors also found it amusing to start a conversation entirely based on double entrendre's (i stuggle to get the first meaning let alone the second) but it appears to be very entertaining for everyone else! i also got a lovely view of quito at night on the way home. i'm definately going to explore more next week.
i have today (friday) off as it is bank holiday weekend, in fact i don't have work until next wednesday! i'm certainly getting used the work ethic here in ecuador.


Last weekend i had my first taste of solo travelling. i had planned to go to a town called Otovalo, which is in the mountains and has a large craft market; originally the plan was to go with katy and sian the other volunteers but katy was poorly on friday evening; and so i decided i'd go on my own. i travelled up on friday in the late afternoon. this was definately the best plan, i got a spectacular view over quito as the sky was totally clear. i was able to see the huge snowcapped volcano rising up behind quito; as the evening sun set on it, the snow changed from a sparkling white to golden yellow to a burnt crimson colour it was totally beautiful. the rest of the journey, until it got too dark to see was equally spectacular; it is difficult to explain just how truely huge the mountains here are, it makes you feel very insignificant. The bus wound its way slowly up the side of the mountains, slowing from time to time so people could jump on and off, speeding up to over take various slower moving vehicules (in manoverures that even i would consider risky!). When i reached Otavalo i too jumped off the bus to find myself in a small town surrounded by locals in traditional dress, both the men and women. They were really friendly and i walked to my hostal with a local couple who were interested to know what i was doing in their country and i was equally interested to just get a closer look at their costume.
i arrived later than i'd planned so i only had tea and feeling tired went to bed, in order to get up early the following day to fully explore the market. i wasn't disappointed, there was loads to see. i bought a bead necklace and a locally woven bag (to carry my school books around in quito) and some alpaka wool-i've decided i'm going to knit a hat for peru- this is what happens when you have no job!! (so i'm currently searching the net for free knitting patterns and instructions!, a little sad i know). later on i bumped into some people i'd met in quito and so we had a long relaxing lunch and then i had to get back to quito for some disco dancing.
Once again i found the scenery on the descent into quito absolutely breath taking, and was able to appreicate it for the entire journey as it wasn't dark. i managed to drink so much in the evening that i even thought that i could salsa!- i really need to take some classes.

Friday, April 21, 2006

recent events

ok i've been fairly slack at writing anything down so here's an update. i've started work and spanish classes, both of which i really enjoy. Learning something new is hard work and i find quite tiring and yes suprise, suprise there have been a few tears when i can't say something correctly. i've met loads of new people through the school, most of whom are lovely although there is a group of gap year kids there as well that are fairly annoying.
the first day of my classes were followed by a football match- Qutio Nacional Vs an argentine side River Plate; it was sort of a south american champions league type thing. i really enjoyed it and even managed to get interviewed on ecuadorian TV! (no idea what was actually said to me all i said was si or non). It was easter last week and they celebrate by having a huge procession through the old town on good friday- i managed to miss this partly due to being hung over and partly cos i'm a bit of a spaz. i have however been to the old town, with a guy i met in a bookshop called bendy les(!) he's into yoga and is a bit of an ageing hippy, seems nice enough though.The old town is very pretty with lots of old colonial bulidings, shady plazas and people just hanging about.
last saturday i went to a village east of Quito called Papallacta with a guy called mike that i met at spanish classes. Papallacta is known for its naturally hot springs, abit like baños but without the brown water. This was the most beautiful place i've even seen, set in a valley in the foohills of the andes were several swimming pools and a couple of bulidings to get changed in. once in the bath warm waters i could just relax and look at the scenery which was empty of people with lush green mountains in the foreground with cows and llamas grazing on them. then over the tops in the distance, there was a huge snowcapped mountain that was sparkling in the sunshine. occasionally the view would be obscured as the steam rising from the clear pool water was too thick to see through, it was the most relaxed i have been for ages. after a dip in the pool we walked back to the road to get the bus back to Quito, on the way we stopped at a little restaurant which was little more than a shack on the roadside and had the most lovely meal of fresh trout, potatoes, avacado salad and rice. then back to Quito for some disco dancing with the other students.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

starting work

i've started work on monday, i've done loads of other things since i last wrote anything but this is the coolest so i'll tell you about this now and the other stuff later. i was fairly nervous on sunday night, wondering what exactly was in store but on monday morning Marcelo took me to the hospital where i met the consultant ophthalmologist, who asked me if i'd like to start now so i agreed.
they all had a little meeting where i met the other staff and i had to tell them about myself, so i was able to real off the sentences i know about my profesion, my age, how many sisters i have, what i'm doing in Ecuador etc. then they asked me a few questions- no idea what they asked, so i resort to smiling like an idiot- which i think they found a little endearing (or maybe they are always just friendly). after the introductions i had a little tour of the deparment, which is very small, two consulting rooms, a little treatment room, a stafff room and the waiting area. the whole department is behind a locked door, through which the patients must wait otherwise we'd be swamped by people wanting to be seen. i spent the morning refracting and they also put me in charge of an optometry student (she's 28 and has been studying 4 1/2 years, not sure how their system works or maybe she's just even worse than me at exams!!). in the first morning i saw a girl with congenital glaucoma who was aphakic, a tiny baby, a pseudophakic boy following some trauma and various other squinty children; all very interesting. To begin with they had a doctor check my refraction to see if i was getting it right, then after a while one of them said " tu refraccion es bueno", yes in real life he really said that, cool or what!
the consultant asked if i'd like to come to surgery to watch the following day- yes of course. that is what i've been doing for the last two days. its slightly gruesome but really interesting. i've seen several squint surgeries, chalazion removal and a lacrimal patency check. in one of the operations the girl wasn't fully anaethesised and started screaming so the nurses had to hold her down whilst they injected some more anaethsiea!-which didn't even seem to fully work either, this was a chalazion removal and there was so much blood, i did feel a little faint (chris have you had your's sorted yet?- i'm sure it won't be that bad)
they have also invited me to a staff party that they're having next week which should be fun. i'll make a note not to get as drunk as i did at the harrogate hospital eye ball and to avoid the consultants wife's!!! must go spanish lessons in a mo. x

Friday, April 14, 2006

techincal difficulties

hello there, i´ve had a few questions pertaining to the lack of photos. -Whats wrong with you lot can you read and just get a mental picture!! ok ok, the reasons are that: as well as not being entirely sure how to upload photos, my camera is with one of the other volunteers, when we left baños and i wasn´t feeling my best some of the other s were carrying my things and on arriving in quito i failed to retrieve my stuff; and now the other volunteers have gone to the coast til the weekend. But don´t worry there is lots to be uploaded soon, a little patience is all that is required.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

a weekend in baños

i have woken up today feeling much better- the last few days my stomach has been feeling like its in a tumble dryer! etc, i'm sure you know what i mean. but today there is not a cloud in the sky, in fact it is even possible to see the snowcapped mountains around quito. over the weekend i have been in Baños with 6 of the other volunteers. Baños gets its name as it is full of hot natural springs as it sits beneath an active volcano. the volcano is constantly erupting and on saturday night we had a trip up a facing mountain to see it- very spectacular- smoke and lava spraying out of the top every ten miuntes or so, i don't think i would choose to live in baños if i had the choice! it has been a very active weekend, we arrived friday evening so only had time to check into our hostal (which was really cool, hammocks to chill out in, free internet, a real fire in the centre of the little socialsing area ans all for $5 a night- i hope all the hostels are this good) and go for a nice meal and then some drinking (i know iknow, not very active so far but socialising is just as important and something i'm quite good at) until the small hours. but then no lie-in on saturday, we booked a day of white water rafting which was really good fun. we all got soaked! the raft was fairly large and we had two guides, 4 of us volunteers and a ecuadorian couple who were on their honey moon along with us. some of the rapids were really big but none of us fell out, we did all have a swim tho! after the rafting, lunch was included at a lovely restaurant we had fresh fish beans and rice (beans and rice seem to be the staple food here!) then in the evening more drinking! but an early start again on sunday as we hired bikes and cycled down the mountain to look at all the waterfalls on the way, there are apparently 22 in total, i lost count but it was very beautiful. about half way down we stopped to use a cable car which crossed the valley (this is the only way that the local people can cross the valley so it was very busy and we had to wait a while). it was very spectacular but also a little scary as it seems to be operated by a man using what looked like bicycle pedals!!! on the other side of the valley we were ableto go fishing and then what we had caught was cooked up for our lunch! it tasted lovely but after having bashed the fish over a nearby rock to kill it i wasn't feeling exactly apetized- do you know how much fish bleed and how long it takes before they actually die and how much they wriggle in the process!! well check it out before you think that i'm a wimp! at the bottom of the mountain, well about as far down as we could be bothered to cycle there was the largest waterfall which it was possible to abseil down the side of, i decided against this as i'm sure the view form the top is just as good! yes ok i was a bit scared. we didn't cycle back up to baños we hitched a lift from a truck driver and he put our bikes and us in the back so the ride back up we could just check out the scenery, which is very beautiful. the mountains all around are absolutely huge and every thing is very green and lush, orchids grow wild here, so there are many colours and smells everywhere. sunday night we had decided to get the night bus back to quito, which left baños at 2am so it was another late night, unfortunately this is when i began to feel a little ill so some friendly americans that we had night the previous night let me take a siesta in their room whilst they went to the bar for this i was very grateful as i don't think i would have coped otherwise. everyone i meet here is very friendly and always seems willing to help you if they the mum of the family i'm staying with gave me some earings just because she said i'm a nice person! they have been really kind especially when i wasn't feeling too good. and yes i have now established their names- luisa, mikeal, danielle (an ecuadorian student staying with them) and maria the maid. mikeal is some kind of engineer and luisa is a carer of old people in fact some times they come round to take lunch with us, as you can imagine the conversation is flowing with me being so good at spanish and all!!! i was supposed to start spanish with marcelo yesterday but i wasn't well enough and when i phoned today he has gone out!! every thing here is mañana mañana i realy want to learn some spanish before i start work at the hospital but on the other hand it is fun just bumming around and doing nothing in particular. i may find another spanish teacher, also danielle says she will help me sometime. it is easter here, obviously its easter there too! (duh) but here its a really big deal and they have lots of processions and a big fiesta so i look forward to that. ciao for now. k

Thursday, April 06, 2006

hello, well this is my first foreign entry. here i am in ecuador, i´m sitting out a tropical storm, whilst trying to navigate this site in spanish! apart from that everything is going well, my host family is lovely and i´m going on a trip with the other volunteers this weekend. i can´t quite believe that i´m on the other side of the world just yet. every morninng i look out of the window and sort of expect to see the back of ´bretts´and smell the chip fat but no i look out over the andes and smell no chip fat! wonderful. no photos from ecuador yet but i´ll get round to it soon. a big thakn you to my techincal support for the first set of photos- cheer drew you´re a sweetheart! mwah mwah! must go home for tea- and the rain has eased off. x