A Travellerspoint blog

By this Author: E.M.N

Hospital IESS

It’s been a busy whirlwind of a week!

We started at the hospital IESS. It is a 250 bed hospital that also happens to have a pediatric unit. It’s interesting the differences and feeling like the hospital is about 30 years behind. Still the same diseases and similar treatments though. The scary thing is that the hospitals are completely closed during holidays so no one can leave or come in, meaning many people die on days like Carnaval, and this is just universally accepted here. It’s quite hard to imagine that there is universal healthcare but hospitals close during inconvenient times. :/

After rounding with the team which consists of 2 attendings that also do outpatient, 1 pediatric surgeon, 1 resident, and 2 Medical students, we typically go to clinic with the attendings. The interesting part is that the attendings just tell everyone what the plan is so students and residents don’t actually have the opportunity to develop their own plans and the poor medical students are just standing on rounds with a 15” laptop in hand trying to type with the other and being pimped at the same time. Quite high pressure for them considering they go straight to med school after high school (some end high school at 16!!).

I enjoy seeing the differences and I can tell that being back in Spanish all the time has helped my comprehension as each day has gone by. I’m hoping my confidence builds enough that I can talk more fluently with my host family, especially the kiddos who speak crazy fast and play all these jokes and games. The Spanish classes here have helped tremendously and it’s so fun being surrounded by other residents in the same boat.

With all of this though, days have been pretty long and we usually sleep with spanish homework on the brain. Yo soy, tú eres, usted es, nosotros somos, ustedes son....

The best part is I love Hilda and Rodrigo, our host parents. Hilda makes the best meals and is always so generous. And Rodrigo is killer on the ping pong table. I don’t know what julia and I would do without them.

I’ll post photos as soon as I can though!

Posted by E.M.N 20:38 Comments (0)


Today we got picked up and headed on a 3 hour car ride to Riobamba. We got to see an amazing view of Quito that showed us how expansive and massive and crowded it is. So many people. So many houses.

We then continued through the mountains and the country side. To be honest, I had to sleep a lot during this ride cause I’m not feeling the best right now, but our driver would talk about Cotopaxi and the farming and fun tidbits about what we were passing, so I would wake up briefly to listen. We also met another resident doing her rotation this month for family medicine. It was awesome to see this part of Ecuador and to think about how such a tiny country can produce SO MUCH DELICIOUS PRODUCE, even roses are exported!

We finally met Pablo, our Spanish teacher, for the month and he reassured us that this was full Spanish immersion and our Spanish would improve umpteenth fold. We finally got to Hilda and Rodrigo’s and met the nicest family ever. They also are housing another medical student during our time here but we essentially have a room to ourselves with our own bathroom and beds. Hilda and her daughter even made us a delicious lunch filled with my favorite, avocados. She has a huge basket of them in the backyard. Heaven. They also have these awesome birds in the backyard that are hatching a couple eggs! After lunch, we chilled for a couple hours and then Hilda drove us around Riobamba, showing us where our Spanish classes would be.

Then we headed to Paseo Shopping Mall and into Hiper Mercado. It felt like a super super walmart. It is always so interesting and fun to visit grocery stores in other countries. You can see there is a HUGE mark up on American products where as other things are cheap. And the eggs here are not refrigerated, super weird to me.

Now it’s time for dinner and hopefully a good night’s rest as we have to start at 0700 at the Social Security Hospital in the morning. Praying my Spanish will help me see patients.


Posted by E.M.N 20:22 Archived in Ecuador Tagged riobamba Comments (0)

That Equator Sun!

More walking around Quito

Today, we decided to take it easy before work starts and we really wanted to swim in the pool at our hotel.

We woke up and headed to the Community Hostel near the Central Market to catch the 1030a free walking tour. I highly recommend these free walking tours in any city because they are 1) free (small tip at end) 2) lots of other travelers go 3) a well versed local tour guide. We had Betto. He was passionate and super knowledageable. The tour ended up being 3.5 hours long, but we got to learn more about the places we had walked through yesterday. It made the buildings and architecture as well as the people even more vibrant and interesting.

We were super lucky on our walk towards La Plaza Grande as the Carnaval Parade was passing us. It was a fun mixture of people dancing and playing instruments. It is even so laid back that one of the tourists in our group just stood in the middle of the parade and took pictures.

We then were extra lucky cause on Mondays, there is a changing of the guard at the Presidential Palace (which is apparently wrought with bad luck for presidents and the current president does not live there). It was fun to see the formality of it all with the uniforms that must have made all the soldiers dying of heat. Since the other parade was also going on at the same time, a lot less people were interesting in the changing of the guard but it was extra noisy and hard to hear. The guide gave us so much history that now I have to read more about Ecuadorean history, especially ex president Jamil Mahaud and how the dollar came to be the nation’s currency. Also, apparently the current president Lenin Moreno is wheelchair bound and fought hard for people with disabilities when he was Vice Presidents during the last 10 years! The more you know. It was great to see the Historic center in a different light and also seeing the influences of the Incas, the Spanish, and the Jesuits.
We continued walking around including La Ronda and I have to say I love the way these streets were built and decorated. I love the colors of the buildings and the pulse of the people. The hard thing still is to tell where exactly is safe to walk. Most touristy places are super safe and are loaded with policemen but streets when you are walking alone, make me feel slightly uneasy for some reason. Still just be street smart and for the most part I think you are okay in Quito. We ended the tour with ICE CREAM from under La Catedral. And the strawberry vanilla blend was some of the best damn soft serve I ever had. It was only tainted by the fact that we saw a bunch of young boys trying to work hard by shining shoes and I’m pretty sure the youngest was 6 yo or less. :(
After sweating in the sun, we headed back to the hotel to enjoy the pool. Thankfully it is slightly heated because the sun comes and goes as it pleases here in Quito.
We then went back to La Plaza Foch for dinner at Mariskay. We shared a fish ceviche that was probably the best ceviche I have ever had. It was the perfect combo of texture, salt, and sour. I could eat that every day....and now someone please teach me how to make it. Julia tried the goat stew which is an Ecuadorean dish (seco de chino) and she said the meat was super tender. I had the Lomo Quiteño (medium rare) and it came with a white carrot mash. I have to say that it was delicious and tender and satisfied my craving for beef. I would definitely come back to this restaurant even though it is on the 3rd floor, is super touristy (only tourists were here so waitstaff know English), and was a little on the pricey side for Quito (approx 13-17 a dish).

Posted by E.M.N 19:32 Archived in Ecuador Tagged walking carnaval tour quito mariskay Comments (0)

Old Historic Quito

So colonial and so historic!

Today we decided to sleep in a little but we were still ambitious with our plans.

We hopped on the cheapest Uber ever ($2.65) and went to El Mercado Central. Our concierge gave us a look like we were crazy for even wanting to go there and that it was not safe in the slightest, and granted I was a little worried in the Uber towards the market, but the FOOD was worth it. We pulled up to a very unassuming building with multiple levels depending on what groceries or foods you want. The first level had food and butchered meats!!! It smelled not great but was a sight to see. We went up to the 2nd level with a mission for corvinas and cerviche from Don Jimmy’s. Corvina is this fried sea bass dish that comes with either potatoes or rice. We bought a traditional corvina with papas and cerviche for $6. And a blackberry (mora) juice from the place next store for $1! This by far was such a good meal and the prices were amazing. The corvina was the softest and flakiest fried sea bass and the salsa picante was on point. Even the papas were delicious. The cerviche was good but nothing to really blow my mind. Add extra lime to these though. The blackberry juice (probably had a type of orange and coconut water as well) was such a delicious juice. We asked for less sugar. I wish all juice was this cheap and delicious in the states.
So delicious and so cheap
The only way to buy your chicken

We then walked over to La Plaza Grande (even though our concierge though it was unsafe and totally was). Police were everywhere because of Carnaval, so it was a super safe walk and everyone was in good spirits. We got to Plaza Grande and it was packed with locals and tourists alike!! The plaza was vibrant and busy and full of entertainment. We decided to walk around following a historic quito route and went to the museum of culture first which is completely free and has nice bathrooms. We then continued walking to La Compañía de Jesús, which is a Jesuit church that took 160 years to make since 1605. The Ecuadorean president refers to it as the “Sistine Chapel” of Ecuador. It cost us $5 to visit but it was seriously worth it. The church was so ornate and has 7 tons of gold plastered on the walls, ceilings, altars. It also includes a tour if you are interested. I would not be able to pay attention to mass in this church because of ALL THE GOLD.
Cute child with her tiny puppy
No pics allowed inside but this is the outiside of the church.

We then continued walking towards the Museo de la Ciudad (Museum of the City). It just so happened to be free today but normally is $3 for adults. The interesting thing about this museum is that it was a hospital previously! We learned about Quito culture and revolutions of the indigenous people and even got to go to the patio that had the perfect view of a concert for Carnaval. I highly recommend just stopping by this museum.
How the hospitals used to be
The concert and mountainside!

We then went down to Calle morales to walk La Ronda!! This street is very well kept with the previous architecture and surprisingly was not as busy as I thought it would be. It is a cute street covered with restaurants and craft shops! On our way here however, a guy decided to foam us and we officially now have participated somewhat in Carnaval. Haha. We stopped by a Ecuadorean designer shirts shop and the designers were super nice. Everyone is so willing to speak English if they know it but will accept my poor Spanish as well.
Not happy about foam
La Ronda


We then walked back to La Plaza Grande for snacks! Julia got an empanada of beef and I went to Cafe Fabilolita for a sandwich (Sanduche de pernil) of pork shoulder. That pork shoulder was DELICIOUS but I wish it had been warmed and the bread was less dry. Still it was well worth the $3. We then went to a bakery for breakfast goods and La Republica de Cacao for some chocolate goods. I have to say the blackberry truffle was amazing and not overtly sweet.
My sandwich
The empanada

We briefly went home to drop off a bunch of stuff and chill out. Then we headed towards Achiote for dinner. This is a very touristy place but the
Ecuadorean food is on point and the live music was a huge plus. They even call you a taxi back to wherever you came from! I had the shrimps in a coconut sauce with rice and Julia had a pork dish with llapingachos (kind of like a potato cake). We also shared a light chicken soup. I have to say the best part of the meal was that llapingacho. It was delicious and very juicy and tender. We saw another table get skewers and I would say that would be the way to go as the grilled shrimp looked legit! After that, we walked to La Plaza Foch and had a quick mojito before returning to our hotel for more jacuzzi and sauna time. Overall a very successful day.


Posted by E.M.N 20:17 Archived in Ecuador Tagged quito ronda compañía Comments (0)

Imanallatac canqui, Ecuador?

Quito. The beginning of what is going to be an awesome month.

We landed pretty late last night and customs took us a long time but we got to stay over night at the Wyndham Quito Airport hotel. It was really a “shower and sleep briefly” stay. But it was a nice hotel and there is a free shuttle that can be arranged at the baggage claim.

After our short “sleep”, we woke up super early so that we could taxi into the city. It took about 35 minutes and we got to drop our luggage off at JW Marriott Quito. Then we walked briefly over to La Plaza Foch in Mariscal to meet with our tour! The plaza is pretty tiny but we were able to grab a quick arepa lunch with salchicha that was not anything to write home about but it came with orange juice that was freshly squeezed and I refuse to go back to America and have it any other way.

Let me talk a little about Quito because it is a super interesting city. It was the first city to be declared a UNESCO world heritage site because of its well preserved historic center and it lies in valley surrounded by the Andean Mountains and surrounded by Volcanoes (Pinchincha and Wawa Pinchincha, which all have amazing tales about how they came to be). It is also the second highest capital city in the world at 9,350 feet (and boy, can I feel that altitude with such even the slightest exertion right now). It is also super populated here with buildings EVERY WHERE and 2.24 million people to boot.

We hopped onto our tour bus. Our tour for Otavalo market was a little pricey but worth it. We used viator but it was through bucketpass.com and our driver and tour guide were really amazing. We first headed to the Quisato Sundial, which is the true “mitad del Mundo,” or middle of the world. I am choosing to call it Middle Earth. It is 0 degrees 0’ 0”. There is another more popular monument that actually was built off of the equator because of the French explorers who found it. It was fun to straddle the northern and Southern Hemisphere at the same time. Crazy to think we were exactly on the equator!!!
Left is north and right is south!

Then we headed off to Mira Lago where we tried some local biscocho (a salty biscuit) which was pretty dry but pretty tasty.

We then headed to a windy but lovely boat ride on Cuicocha Lake (also known as Guinea Pig lake or Rainbow Lake). It lies at the foot of the Cotachi Volcano in a crater in the Andean Mountains. We got to see most of the lake and all the volcanic rocks with numerous birds flying around. We sat right in the front of the boat and although our view was uninhibited, we got soaked in the clear lake water. The cool thing is that the boat stops in the middle of the crater and teaches you about the history and ecology of the lake and really let’s you enjoy watching the bubbling of the lava flowing into the river, even if it could technically erupt at any point in time.
Somehow our boat fit through this narrow passageway.

We then finally left for Otavalo Market. Saturday is by far the busiest day because instead of being only in the square, the market expands extra blocks. The indigenous people of Otavalo are clearly so proud of their heritage and so clearly good at convincing you to buy goods made from Alpaca. It is easy to get lost in the hustle and bustle of the market but most places are selling similar things. Little souvenirs like keychains and coin purses and then the more well known items like the Alpaca scarves and ponchos. Alpaca fleece is super soft!! We tried to haggle a little bit and I don’t think we did too terribly but probably could have done better. It was also super hot under the Ecuadorian sun and I was tired of having to ignore sellers, so we sat down and ate a small meal at Inyit Hausi right near the parking lot. Julia got arroz con polio which was pretty delicious and surprisingly had mostly chicken. I got the Locro de papa (which is an Ecuadorian soup of potatoes). Both of these came with MY FAVORITE, AVOCADO (or aguacate). I do not think I truly understood the potential for being in Ecuador and my love of avocados. Anyways, I really enjoyed my soup. It was the perfect blend of potato, salt, cheese, and avocado. I’ll have to get it again.
Not pretty but it was delicious

We then headed to Peguche Waterfalls! We were forewarned that it was Carnival and it would be a huge celebration of water throwing, foam spraying, and color flour tossing. As we walked the 15 minutes to the falls, I saw all the locals DRENCHED in some mix of all of those things. I was fearful for my electronics as well as my clothes, but the locals are EXTREMELY respectful of tourists and although some kids like to pretend they will harm you, they actually avoided us for the most part. I really wish I could have watched the early celebration from a distance as the floor was covered with colors, water, and many pieces of latex. I could imagine growing up here and loving every minute of this SOAK fest. We got to the falls and it was a great natural site. It was decorated with tourists and locals alike and people were even trying to swim in it. It was a nice addition to the tour.
Note the fellow in the front throwing a lot of foam around.

We then finally headed back to the hotel where we discovered an amazing heated pool (DEF spending some time there) and an awesome gym as well as a private indoor jacuzzi and sauna, which we hurriedly changed and used to relax from such a busy day. Now it’s time to get some real sleep so we can see more historic sites of Quito.

Posted by E.M.N 19:53 Archived in Ecuador Tagged carnival quito otavalo cuicocha peguche Comments (0)

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