Between arriving around 2:30 a.m. to the Rancho Santa Fe and breakfast at 8:00 a.m. I only received four hours of sleep. It doesn’t bother me because I am too excited to be tired. Today was an exciting day as the group leader had many activities planned.
Breakfast was very simple. It consisted of some bread, some fresh papayas, and some plantains. One item I had never tried before was tree tomato juice. It was a nice substitute for the orange juice back home.
After breakfast the group left for the town of Otavalo. Here, we all visited the market. We were encouraged by our guide to be careful of pickpockets and to have fun. This market was like most outdoor markets I have seen. Vendors were set up for rows and rows. I was able to haggle a few items for myself and for others. I can’t tell you what those items were for the sake of maintaining the secrecy of my gifts. The market had everything from cheap trinkets to raw meat. There was even a fruit and vegetable section that sold oranges at 25 for a dollar. There are some items that are averagely priced for me, but I quickly learned that when buying bottled water I could get five liters (more than a gallon) for only $1.20.
The day did not stop at the market. Around noon the group returned to the hotel for our first true meal. It was delicious. I had soup, steak and fries, and even a fig and cheese dessert. I never expected three courses for lunch. I was also introduced to a sauce called, “Ahi.” This sauce is used to spice up the meal. I especially enjoyed it on my rice.
Immediately after lunch, the brigade was transported to a lake that formed from a volcano. This lake was made from a caldera that created a crater and filled with water. While at the lake I was able to drink a cinnamon tea. I can’t remember what it was called, but it was excellent. The group was able to shop more one the trip home but upon returning to the Santa Fe, I was given another three course meal.
Today was a day of fun, but it ended with business. Following dinner was the time set aside to prepare for our first day of clinic. As a group we played a fun game enabling me, and others, to remember everyone’s name. The brigade was divided into groups. I was assigned to the screening group. I will learn more about my tasks tomorrow but I will be taking glucose readings, blood pressure, and other vital readings.
The other groups consisted of the physical therapy team, dentistry, medical, interpreters (which consisted of members and Peace Corps members), and pharmacy.
Tomorrow will be an exciting day. We will be providing health care for indigenous people. Some of these people have never seen a dentist or a doctor. I can’t wait to see what I will experience tomorrow. Today was eventful and now it is time to prepare for the business of tomorrow.
Jim Buscher, who will start at UK Medical School in August, is a two-time graduate of the College of Arts & Sciences with degrees in psychology (2009) and biology (2010). But before he enrolls in gross anatomy or makes his rotations in the hospital, Buscher has embarked on a journey to Ecuador as a volunteer with Shoulder to Shoulder Kentucky, an international organization dedicated to improving the quality of life in resource-limited communities.
Jim will spend time working in health clinics performing screenings and tackling the issues that confront the community’s wellbeing, but he also plans on doing more than dealing with health initiatives. Following the lead of Jacob Sither, a friend and student in UK’s College of Public Health, Jim will take part in distributing donated equipment to help develop a soccer program in the community, hoping to build a self-sustaining recreational program to supplement their efforts to improve general public health. The whole point of these enterprises, Jim says, is to improve the lives and families in the community by addressing health, education and economic issues.
Follow Jim's adventure in Ecuador through this blog. To learn more about Shoulder to Shoulder visit: http://www.shouldertoshoulderky.org/.