Friday, February 4, 2011

A day in the life...

As the pólice truck climbed higher up into the mountains the temperature dropped rapidly. It was only an 2 hours ago that I was walking around Cahuasqui shopping for fresh fruits and vegetables when my day took a drastic turn. But such is the life here in Ecuador. While looking for avacados (only about twenty cents a piece) the daughter of the president of Pugaran (a community an hour away from Cahuasqui, but still governed by Cahuasqui) came running up to me. I had met this shy girl a couple times before so this as rather startling to see her running towards me. While trying to catch her breath she asked me if I knew where the doctor was. I asked if everything was ok to which she replied no. She told me that someone in Pugaran had been shot (record player screeching to a holt…).

After searching at the doctors house and around town we were still unable to find her so we when to the dentist´s assistance, Chelita´s, house who lives in Cahuasqui. Chelita called the doctor who was walking around town with her mother. Together, Chelita, the Doctor, the daughter of the President of Pugaran and I went to talk to the police officer. While listing to the daughter explain what had happened to the police office I was able to better understand the situation. I twenty year old male was chasing a wolf in the fields and forest in Pugaran with a shot gun. The wolf had been killing live-stock and other farm animals and was losing his family a lot of money. However during the chase, the wolf turned on the young man causing the young man to change direction and run away. During his retreat, the young man tripped on a large rock and upon landing discharged his shot gun into his leg. This happened at about 12:30pm, around five hours ago.

In the old, beat up police truck we were careening around cliffs on a dirt road damaged by the recent rain. Despite the conditions of the road and the truck we were able to find the patient just as it got completely dark at around 7pm. Out of a community of around 80 people, 25 to 30 of them were surrounding the young man, supporting him and his family. It was amazing to hear that around 33% of the community was out late at night to support one of their own who had now been suffering with bullets in his calf for over seven hours.

After the doctor cleaned the wound, we loaded the patient into the back seat of the truck with his father, and I sat in the flatbed of the truck with the patient´s mother and doctor. Then hour drive back felt a lot longer sitting in the fridged air getting tossed back and forth during each turn, but I guess I cannot complain with the current weather right now in the northeast United States. I talked to the young man´s mother to try to help the time fly by when I learned that the young man was one of fourteen children, three of which has died at young ages. Her children ranged in age from two years old to 28 years old. She did not really seem upset at the situation, more in daze.

Five minutes after we arrived at the Cahuasqui Health Center the ambulance which we called arrived to take the patient to a hospital in Ibarra. Again, with more time to pass I started up a conversation with the patient’s father. His father told me that his wife´s father was already in a hospital in Ibarra and after this incident was really worried how he was going to pay for all the transportation to and from Ibarra and any lodging that they might need to pay for. Again, this is an extremely poor agricultural family with eleven children. It was just really sad to me (for lack of better words) that while his son was in agonizing pain, all the father could think about was how this was going to affect them financially.


  1. I so wish that same situation wasn't true of a lot of people in the United States. Medical problems mean financial ruin, bankruptcy etc..

    Certainly sounds like you are part of the community and your Spanish must be amazing.

  2. Sorry forgot to sign post above.

    Thanks for doing these. I hope this one means you are back with a computer.


  3. Hey Ben,
    I love that you just never know what turn your life is going to take, and that you are available to help out when emergencies like this occur. And that those emergencies give you a window into life in your own little community. Keep plugging along, and keeping us informed!

    Janet P.