Monday, April 25, 2011

On the Road (to Cahuasqui)

Cahuasquí lies about 45km to the northwest of Ibarra, the capital of the province of Imbabura. However, due to Cahuasquí’s positioning in the mountain and with numerous stops, the trip takes two hours by bus. While in the United States I can not remember taking a two hour bus ride just to visit a city a two hour trip away, but when internet, mail and a meal other than rice, potatoes and chicken is on the line it really does not seem like a big deal.

The road is well done and takes you on a little tour of the Canton of Urcuquí passing through Imbaya, Urcuqui, Chiryacu, Tumbabiro and Pablo Arenas before you get the fantastic view (weather permitting) of the Island in the Mountains, Cahuasquí. Although the view is breathtaking, there are still two obstacles to overcome on the single road into town before reaching the Fertile Heart of Imbabura—two bridges over a roaring river that appear as though they could collapse at any moment. BUT GOOD NEWS!! The government of Ecuador is building a new bridge to replace the older two. Construction is under way.

The construction has been going well for the past two months or so. Only every so often do they have to shut down the bridges to prevent traffic from passing and this only lasts for part of the day or at most a complete day. Normally this does not cause much disturbance in the daily lives of the people who live in Cahuasquí or those who need to travel to Cahuasquí for business, but today was an exception. Today, April 4, 2011 there were two medical emergencies in the local health center. The first involved a baby of a year and three months and the other involved a thirty-seven year-old pregnant women.

Today while walking into the heath center to discuss a potential project with the doctor in the health center there was an unusually amount of people in the health center. After interring I was told by the nurse that a young baby had a 103°F temperature and a terrible cough. In the health center, although the medicine is free, there is usually not the right type of medicine or not enough of it. With nothing to be done, the doctor called the ambulance to come to Cahuasquí. However after calling the doctor realized that today there was no passage on the bridge. With the pregnant women also needing a trip to a hospital in Ibarra, the doctor decided to wait to take both the bridge at once and pass over them on foot.

While waiting, I saw something that one would imagine seeing in a home or in a religious center—the doctor and nurse ran to the convenient store to by eggs in attempt to heal the baby. They rubbed the eggs on the young child’s head in attempt to reduce the fever and then neck and chest to heal the cough. The doctor then took the egg outside and threw it away. Such is the way of life here in Ecuador: a country continuing to move towards modernization, but yet holding firm to its customs of yesterday.

(Pictures to come with faster internet)


  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  2. Wow Ben,
    Sounds like you're having a very intense, hectic, but incredible time! You should read the book "River Town" by Peter Hessler (if you haven't already). He was a Peace Corps volunteer in China a few years back and he does an excellent job of documenting the experience. I think you'd draw some cool comparisons and parallels between your experiences, and if you're anything like me it'll definitely be inspiration for you to keep writing (I saw you had a New Year's resolution along those lines).

    Anyway cool blog; I'll be sure to check in often!

    Cuidate amor!