Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Chimborazo Days.

So this past week I was back in Chimborazo in the follow-up communities of Apunag, Shanaycu, Gaunan, and Puruyaipampa, hiking 8-10hours a day, doing house visits, checking on the wee-folk, and taking pictures of latrines, faucets and breast feeding mothers. It was a lovely, satisfying but tiring and at times not very glamorous job. Why so many pictures? Because I love Chimborazo.


First a tribute to the breast feeding women of the world! Tio Elias, I understand it is not very P.C. (not like you know what that means) but this woman is absolutely beautiful and she liked the picture!

Gordita Sospechosa.

Now a tribute to all the cute, chubby, breast-fed babies of the world. I called this lovely wawa “gordita” with all the love in my heart. (Same goes to you for Isabella.). In communities where 80% of the women have lost at least one child, this is a beautiful sight.

Signing Informed Consent.

A lady in Apunag signing the informed consent on the follow-up questionare. And yes, because of HIPPA I cannot reveal her name, age, telephone or home address. But come visit me and I’ll introduce you!

Dolor de diente.

Yes my dear, I see you have a bad tooth! This little lady was about 3.5 feet tall, with global static mental development problems, a very large goiter, beefy red tongue, and a rotten tooth. We communicated with smiles, concerned nods and lots of gestures. Promise I’ll go back and see her in a couple of weeks Mom.

Walking to Shanaycu.

It was early morning and we were walking over to Shanaycu from Apunag on the main road. This young women ran over to ask us what we were doing. (Joe, I was trying to get something like your Havana-road-side shots.)

Sample Faucet.

Just a sample a still-life-faucet for Huong.

Sample Latrine.

Just a sample of a better-than-a-Hatian-latrine for Ana.

Cuyi Delicious

Wondering what was on the menu most days? Well besides potatoes, in the sierra we always have plenty of cuyi (guinnea pig). Sorry Nirali, close your eyes! (And Tina, only tell Timmy that I'm eating his pets relatives if you feel he's up to it).

Home Visits.

Just evidence that I was actually there ; ) (Janice, I’ll return the shirt!)

Monday, November 21, 2005

Doctora Babena

Babena came in because she was having diarrhea, but got more than expected. Here she is listening to her grandson's heart. The Waorani, while considered a violent indigenous group, are now most often incited to retaliate - such was the case with the recent spearing of a trespassing lumberman.

Tree of Life

The trees of the LORD are well watered, the cedars of Lebanon that he planted. Psalm 104:16. A tree on the Rio Chichugui, Waurani territory.

Wau Elegance

This is one of the elegant Waorani women of the community of Nuneno. The group of women here were straighforward and unusually talkative, particularly Marta, the health promoter. Births here are at home, with mothers and sisters helping, as there are no trained midwives or experienced parteras. For more information on a movement of Indigenous Midwives in Ecuador go to!

How beautiful are the feet of those

We were on our canoe (a very modern metal one) to a Waorani community that Compassion International works in ( sponsoring children to go to school and providing medical care (in this case me). This was an accidental picture of Romelia's feet... but aren't most beautiful things in life accidental and unexpected?

Ciudad de Coca

So apparently this is one of the more dangerous cities in the country, due to factors such as the narcotráfico and tensions between indigenous populations vs the petróleros and the lumber folk. Just to share, this the view I was tortured with for many hours on the rocky road to the Puente de Tiwino. Horrible thing was that the only thing I could think of was that I needed to pee. What a painful experience.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Leaving again.

Am finished with my two month rotation in Shell, at the hospital, and am back in the world of community development. Am again in Quito preparing for a trip to the Sierra communities outside of Riobamba. And the schedule is looking good. Today I leave for the Waurani community of Taxococonanaco (phonetically at least) with Compassion International to do some well-child checks. Apparently the kids have been taken out of their jungle communities and are waiting for us in a small road-side town. The drive is about 23hours from where I am now... near El Coca (aka near Columbia).

Am very sad to have left Shell. Funny thing was that I left a lovely house full of women: including Kristen, an adventurous older Swedish lady who loves to dance, Elizabeth, a gentle pre-med student from Ohio who is a fabulous chef, Bonnie “Bonboncita” Chen a wild M4 from UCSF who has a contagious laugh and a talent for telling stories (and who is currently contaminated with big bad jungle scabies) and various other guests…. And now I’ve moved into a quiet Swedish Hostal where the residents are generally conservative middle-aged working men from the Iglesia del Pacto. Big change in house dynamics.

Ok my dears. I’m off to the bus station now. Off to Taxococonanaco .

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

A moment ago.

Just a moment captured in the city of Esmeraldas, where Texaco has a massive petroleum refining center and where corrupt government officials have sold off logging rights in national parks, leaving the once-emerald coastal province stripped bare and writhering in drought.

Gifts for Life?

These are the lovely hand-pumps that are installed at wells, often before a community receives "agua entubada" (running water). More than 2 million people die every year from water-borne diseases. Clean water one of the best regalos you can give a community. Are the gifts I give ever meaningful? hummm. This Christmas, I'm thinkin' of shopping at


Last week I went to the devastatingly-deforested Province of Esmeraldas with a group from Water Projects (Community Development) and Life Water (a EEUU/US based NGO), to take a look at some wells. Here you see a rincón in the city of Borbón, where the water runs acouple hours a day and the HIV/AIDS incidence is unsualy high compared to the rest of Ecuador... thanks in part to poverty and prostitution.

El Wawa

This is just a cute 31weeker (which here in the jungle usually means the baby does not survive). By now he was off oxygen, gaining weight slowly, and making his mother wonder when they could go home! Wawa, is Kichua for baby.

Life as Art.

I simply love this picture. Again, thanks to Doctorita Bonnie "Bonboncita" Chen for documenting this. Wonder how cotton ball are made? Here in Shell the nurses, when they have a free second, sit down and hand-roll cotten balls, dipping their fingers occasionlly in a little cup of water. So here's the proof. Life is art.

Free Air!

Does this freak you out? If not, it SHOULD!. This wasn't my patient but when Doctorita Bonnie Chen (my fellow "interna," aka medical student) showed me this I was impressed. Apparently the lovely gentleman he had some anaerobic gas-forming abcess that developed from his incarcerated incicional hernia. For my dear medically-savy-sisters: they went in, cleaned him up, cut out the rotten parts, and stiched him back up, and killed the bad bugs. All ended well and he later cam in bringing in half a ton of queso fresco del oriente (greeeeat cheese) for everyone.