Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Gondala Rides & Good Times

Day 8: Teleferico, Amusement Park, Mall & Farewell Dinner

Originally for day 8, we had planned to go to a daycare to teach some of the children different things about oral hygiene and give our donations, but they unfortunately had to cancel due to the holiday here in Ecuador. We therefore started off our morning by heading over to the Teleferico Gondola ride up in the mountains. The gondola starts already 2950 meters above sea level, and continues up into the mountains to 4050 meters high!  We had high hopes that the weather would clear up but unfortunately it was very foggy while we trekked up the mountain.  When we got to the top there were ample boutiques that we could shop at and pick up snacks. Another cool feature the building had was flavoured oxygen! This oxygen would help with the "altitude sickness" one could experience from being up so high!  However, after spending about half an hour at the top, the clouds started to clear and we could see some of the scenery. It was pretty gorgeous and we were able to snap some awesome pictures.

We then had to wait roughly half an hour for our bus to pick us up at the teleferico so while we were waiting, we noticed a small carnival down the road, so naturally we went. It reminded us of Hinchey's Rides and Amusements from home!! We saw these two rides that looked like absolute fun. The first one was essentially a slingshot that two people could ride on.  We had four of our students take the risk and they definitely had a lot of fun. The second ride was a twisty and turny roller coaster that only cost 0.50 cents to ride!!!! YUP! It was all in good fun and a great way to kill some time.

We then headed over to a mall right in the center of downtown Quito. We were able to walk around the mall for a couple of hours before we headed back to the hostel to get ready for our farewell dinner.  Our dinner was at a beautiful restaurant called Vista Hermosa.  We enjoyed great meals and we were able to toast to a great trip and learning experience.

Tomorrow is our last clinical day and last day in Ecuador so stay tuned for our LAST blog post TOMORROW!


Monday, February 27, 2017

Mindo Clouds, Quilotoa Lake and Kiddies

Hey guys!  So it has been a super busy couple of days and I am sorry I didn't get to update the blog last night. A lot of us didn't get home until very late in the evening and we were exhausted!! So today you guys are getting a "two-for-one" deal!! I will first talk about Day 6 when we were fortunate enough to go on excursions and then I will talk about day 7 at the orphanage!

Day 6:  Mindo Cloud Forrest & Quilotoa Lake

So day 6 was off to an early start when our group split into 2 as we had to option to either go zip lining in the Andes Mountains and tubing, or to hike up an active volcano on top of a donkey to a lake where we could kayak!  Both groups had amazing times, filled with fun and culture!  

While in the mountains, we did 10 different zip lines, each one of them with their own spectacular view of the mountains. The views were breathtaking and definitely something we will never forget.
I also don't think anyone will forget how hard the hike up to the second zip line was.. We all realized just how much out of shape we were in ;) Luckily, there was a water stop at the end of that one so we could move on easier haha!  One of the really cool things about zip lining was that we had the options to do different positions on some of the zips!  The "superman" was the first one, which was like going head first into the sky.  We felt like we were flying!
The second one was the "butterfly" which was literally when you would hang upside down and extend your arms and legs. Pretty sure all of the blood rushed to our heads but we made it out fineπŸ˜€.
After the zip lining ended, we headed down to the river to go tubing. This was definitely an experience we will not forget. I don't think anyone could stop smiling the entire time.  There was essentially 7 tubes tied together with rope that roughly 6 people would sit on, and then you would travel down the river tides through the rocks and waves!  We might of got soaked but definitely had a ton of fun doing it!

We ended off our day with a tour of a butterfly farm. This was pretty neat as the butterfly keeper showed us the different stages of how caterpillars become butterflies, and then led us into the butterfly habitat!

For the excursion to the volcano, we started our day at a small indigenous village named Pujili. The Pujili Market takes place at Pujili every Sunday. People from surrounding villages and towns gather at the indigenous market to sell a wonderful variety of traditional trades and crafts in order to make a meager living for their families🌽🍎🐀. We were able to learn about how corn meal is made, which was a pretty cool and cultural experience. It is very self sufficient and had a lot of strong authentic smells.

We then arrived at a look off where they told us an 800 year old legend of two kings. There were two volcanoes that were owned by kings who were fighting over the princess. One king made the others river go dry and the one who still had the water won. Once the princess died, he buried her under his lake. Legend has it, if the color of the lake is green she is sad, and if it is blue she is happy.πŸ’™πŸ˜Š

We then arrived at the Quilotoa lake. This is where we walked down into the volcano, kayaked in the lake and then took donkey rides up the Playita Quilotoa volcano. This volcano was 3000 meters up. A lot of families had gathered there for the holiday weekend and we praised them for making it up without the help of donkeys (because we are clearly in tip top athletic shape).

Day 7 - Orphanage

This morning we got up and traveled to an orphanage about an hour away. The children ranged in age from 3 and 1/2, to 15 years old. They stay on average at the orphanage for roughly 1 year. We were able to get a bit of a background on the children from the director "their auntie", before meeting them. As soon as we got there we were able to visit with the children in their dinning room. We opened up the crayons and stickers and they started coloring their hearts away! πŸ“˜

We were able to open up our donation suitcases to divide all of the toys and school supplies for everyone. Something that was very heartwarming about the school supplies is that they told us it would last them until January. πŸ“(WOW). Throughout the morning, we were able to play with the children with all of their newly donated toys on their courtyard. The kids were having a blast and it was awesome to see how much they became comfortable with us as the day went on πŸ‘‘. 
Although the morning was full of fun and games, we as nursing students did notice a few things about these children. Some of these children have not quite reached their correct developmental stages of life. For example, an 8 year old girl did not know how to use a skipping rope. They have all had such hard lives before entering the orphanage, and it is definitely something that we are going to take back with us to Cape Breton. Being able to be so open to a different type of world was great, but really there are things like this that happen at home as well🌎. We think it was important for us as nursing students to be exposed to this environment, as it is something we will never forget.

 One of the biggest highlights of the day was when a little boy told us that us being there was like "magic"πŸ’–

Stay tuned for tomorrows blog post! Thanks for reading!



Saturday, February 25, 2017

Guinea Pigs, Eggs and Culture

Day 5: Day trip to Otavalo to the Jambi Huasi Clinic, Market and Waterfall🌎

Hey guys, welcome back to the blog! Boy, do we have a lot to tell you about today! We started our morning off by driving a couple of hours into another Ecuadorian city called Otavalo. On the drive we had learned about the beautiful roses🌹🍌 and bananas that are exported from here. Being close to the equator definitely has its perks for these goods!  We also got to stop at a small shop where they had good views and alpacas!🐐 Here are a couple of shots!

Our first stop was an indigenous clinic called Jambi Huasi. At this clinic, they do a mixture of western and traditional medicine. We learned about the local indigenous culture with regards to their marriage traditions, religious practices, birth practices and their lower equality. While at this clinic, we watched two different demonstrations of traditional versions of diagnostic testing (think x-ray). The first was using an egg.🍳 This required the elder woman to tap a raw egg around someone's body and once finished she would crack it open to see if there were any discrepancies. Luckily both of our volunteers were told that they were healthy! The second diagnostic testing required the sacrifice of a guinea pig. This was similar to the egg test except the elder woman would use the guinea pig and tap it along someone's body. After this, the elder woman sacrificed the guinea pig🐭, and depending on what she and the shaman would find inside would be the diagnosis. It was an honor to take part in such a traditional part of this medicine and something that we will never forget! The staff told us that they perform these diagnostic testings very often and you have the option to continue on and seek western medical assistance if desired.  πŸ’Š

After leaving the clinic we spent a few hours browsing the large, well-known local market in the city and may or may not have overloaded ourselves with souvenirs. Our tour guide had told us that it is one of the biggest markets in South America and that almost everything that is sold there is made by hand. Not only did we shop till we drop, but we fed the stray dogs treats🐢 and gave out beautiful handmade dresses to some little girls we met!πŸ‘­

Our last stop on the way home, was to see a beautiful waterfall. We will never get tired of the tropical scenery here. As a side note, it is currently "festival" weekend here in Ecuador and at pretty much every turn you make we saw someone squirting a water gun/ foam gun at us!πŸ’¦πŸŽ‰  It definitely made things interesting when our group decided to take part in the fun!

It has been a great day full of culture and experiences we will never forget. On to another day tomorrow of excursions to the Mindo Cloud Forrest and Quilotoa Lake! Stay tuned!πŸ—»


Friday, February 24, 2017

Babies, Surgeries and Simulation, Oh My!

Day 4: Second day of Clinical and University Tour🌎

Hey everybody! Another fantastic day completed in beautiful Ecuador!  Today was much like our day yesterday as we went to our clinical placements again but switched around so that each of us could try our hands at a different specialty!πŸ’ŠπŸ’‰  We are starting to get a hang of things down here and we know that everyone is so so gracious for our donations.  Here are a couple of favorite moments from today:

The second part of our day included visiting a beautiful university called "Universidad de Las Americas" AKA - "UDLA".

This university is pretty much a dream for any nursing student, as there are so many learning opportunities involving simulation. πŸ”ŒπŸ‘Ύ For those of you who do not know what simulation is, it uses human model replicas that are electronically controlled to act like real life patients. It seems like an ideal way to learn about nursing and life-like experiences we could come across in our futures. We found out a lot of different things about the education system for nurses here at this university, some of which included: it is a four year program, entry level nurses have a starting pay of $7 per hour (WHAT?!), the students do not have to pay for their textbooks, and there are roughly 800 student nurses per year who go to UDLA. It is pretty crazy to see the differences from here in Ecuador to places like Cape Breton, but we are all definitely taking in every moment and learning so much about the healthcare system. πŸ“š Here are a couple of neat pictures from the University!

 We are looking forward to another day tomorrow to explore the indigenous culture of Otavalo and take in some Ecuadorian keepsakes at the local markets. Make sure you tune in tomorrow evening for another blog post! Thanks for reading!😊

Cheers everyone!