Monday, March 29, 2010

Village Life Part 5: Details

So, this is the final planned installment of the Village Life series, for which some of you may be grateful. These are the last few things that occupy my mind, and make a huge impact on us living here comfortably.


One of our friends comes to the house once a week, generally on the weekend, and hand washes our clothes at the utility sink outside. When we were living in the old house we took our wash to a lady down the road, but it was a pain having to wait up to a week for it to dry and for us to get it back. One time we tried taking it to the laundry mat in Manglaralto, but it's just not that convenient. Now, with our current set-up, since it hangs in the back yard we can bring it in as it dries, and not wait for the whole batch.

When we first came here BG was wearing cloth diapers. We quickly discovered, however, that it was virtually impossible to get them clean by hand washing. There was always a lingering urine smell, and sometimes I think detergent residue got left behind. She had so many diaper rashes that we ended up switching to disposables. When we get back to the States I’m planning on stripping all the cloth, getting them nice and clean, and starting to use them again. And trying to potty train her so that we don’t have to deal with too many more poopy cloth diapers in the future.


BG attends daycare in the village five days a week from 8am to 2pm. The building is a cinder block box with concrete floors, and is located almost on the other end of the village from our house. There are between 30 and 50 children on any given day, and seven teachers and two cooks. The kids range in age from infants to 5 (until they start school). They feed her breakfast, lunch, and two snacks, and bathe her each day. She absolutely loves going to school and playing with “los niños” and gets really sad on the days when we find out that school is closed only after we’ve gotten there. We bring her home at 2 so that she can get her nap – the echoing noise in the school, all the activity, and the lack of a set nap/quiet time means she doesn’t sleep there at all.
BG's daycare building. There's a cleared front paved area, blocked by the surge of growth in the photo, but the kids don't actually play outside at all, for which I am thankful.

Daycare costs $0.50 a week and is partially subsidized by the government. We had to give them proof of her immunizations, just like in the States. It’s a great deal for us, because we get time to work, and it’s great for her because she gets to socialize and gets a lot of exposure to Spanish.  The only downside is that the teachers have to attend fairly frequent seminars to keep their license, and on those days the daycare is closed. To me this kind of defeats the purpose. Also, they often don’t have advanced warning of these seminars, or at least don’t give the parents any warning. The worst example was just this Monday, when I showed up with BG in tow, only to find the doors locked and no sign or anything. I tracked down one of the teachers, and it turns out they are going to be closed for the next two weeks for “vacation”. Nice of them to let us know so we could make alternative arrangements!


We have two basic options locally for medical care. About 3km from our place, on the road between Dos Mangas and Manglaralto, is a compound of Santa Maria del Fiat, also referred to as the Finca. It is a charity organization, with ties in Europe, and they have undertaken water purification projects locally and have a school and sanctuary in Olon. At the Finca they raise livestock and sell various goods, and also operate a medical clinic during weekdays. You show up around 8 to stand in line and buy your consultation ticket ($2.50). Then you wait in that order to have your vitals taken and then see the doctor. The Finca also has a laboratory and pharmacy on-site, so you can get everything taken care of there. CBC and urinalysis costs around $2, and the prescriptions are at a reduced cost. This is where we go for most of our medical care, and on a typical visit we are there from 8-11 am. I’m not sure why they can’t schedule appointments, but there you go.

Our second option is in the town of Manglaralto itself, and is the local Ministry of Public Health Hospital. This is where we go if we need to be seen on the weekend or if (heaven forbid) we have a more major injury. The hospital has normal doctors that you can see, and that operates pretty much like the Finca, though you have to show up more like 6am for the good spots, and can end up sitting around until 2pm. There is also an emergency room where they take you pretty quickly, with the limitation being that you can’t have had symptoms for more than 48 hours. We’ve gone there when my cousin Taylor woke up with a full-body rash and swelling, when BG stopped eating or drinking, and when she’s had a fever over 39 C (102.2 F) that wouldn’t come down. At the hospital everything is free. All services, medicines, tests, everything. The only time you have to pay is if you need a medicine that they don’t stock, and then you have to run out to one of the private pharmacies. Pretty incredible that Ecuador can manage to provide free basic and urgent care to its citizens, and even to the international tourists who flock to the region. Just sayin'.

Theirs is kind of a third option, and that is to self-diagnose and go to a pharmacy and buy whatever it is that you need. Prescriptions are not regulated like they are in the States. The only exception is that in the last year, because of the Swine Flu, they won’t sell medicines for sinus or flu symptoms without a doctor’s order because they want people to actually see a doctor to contain the disease, rather than just treating the symptoms. But it’s nice for us to be able to shortcut the horrible wait and just get medicine, especially if it’s for something we’ve been through before, like sinus infection or allergies. We will also be stocking up on our daily meds and a few rounds of antibiotics before we come back to get us through the summer when we don’t really have access to medical care, due to the fun university system (for those of you who are concerned, we will all have health insurance, but only BG will have easy access to a doctor).

1 comment:

  1. Great posts, I haven't checked in for a while since I have had an incredibly busy March. I like hearing about the ins and outs of living in Ecuador and your thoughts about changes as you come back to the states.