Sitting here in Tabacundo, Ecuador, I have just finished my first two days of helping gather data in rural communities. Before this began, my wife Maggie and I had been enrolled in a two-week course run through CIMA, the organization running the ESPINA project. This course focused on understanding the diversity of Ecuador’s communities, the organization of their health system, and how changes in the most recent of Ecuador’s constitution have impacted indigenous health. Highlights of this course included personal tours through the “Centro De Salud” of multiple small cities where directors spoke about how they are integrating forms of indigenous practices into their delivery of healthcare. The most interesting manifestation of this was during labor and childbirth. We were able to see how multiple hospitals employ or include a community midwife to help assist labor using different positions for child birth and herbal medications that are common in the indigenous community.
Outside of this class, Maggie and I have been able to explore and experience many different parts of Ecuador. We summited a 15,000 foot volcano outside of Quito where we were caught in a small snow storm, went canyoning in a cloud forest in Mindo, hiked in El Cajas National Park, and traversed a 20 km volcanic crater lake.
We are currently living with a host family here in Tabacundo that takes great pride in showing us all aspects of Ecuadorian food. Each day starts and finishes with a thick warm cup of a delicious drink called Coolada de Guayaba. Breakfasts include all types of fruits, bread, and eggs. Finally, dinner always has a different soup, rice, meat, and side dish. It has truly been a wonderful experience so far, and I am excited about the upcoming research days and a 3 day hike through small Andean villages on the Quilotoa Loop.