Monday, February 22, 2010


Work at Tierra Nueva Hospital begins tomorrow. I have been avoiding trying out the bus system for all sorts of reasons, or at least I have presented several excuses. I had hoped that one of the Canadian women would offer to drive me, but I had not heard from anyone. When Gustavo called at 9 to tell me he would meet me at the Trole station near his home, I quickly agreed to meet him in an hour. I had no idea how long it would take me, and arrived a half hour late. I walked across Carolina Park to Diez de Agosto, found the Estadio Trole station, and waited for the C1 bus (there is a C2, C3, C4), couldn't see the number on the bus and jumped on the second one that arrived. It was packed of course, but the further south we went, the more people disembarked and a little past the Centro Historico, I found a seat and rested for the next few stops. Gustavo was waiting for me in the 'Recreo' Trole station. He lives just above the station, not far from CENIT, with his parents and his five brothers, ages 25 to 4 years old.

The 'Solanda' bus leaves from the Trole station and the hospital was just fifteen minutes away. It was hard to tell it was a hospital from the outside. It is a nondescript tan coloured two story building with a collection of people milling around the entrance. I was pleased to see a policeman on the sidewalk. Gustavo had been telling me that the area was entirely unsafe for me. When I asked him why, he said that at night there are gangs and violence, but that during the day I was probably okay.

I met with Miluska, another one of the translators. The doctors were busy in the postop area, several patients having just come out of surgery. I am expected to be at the hospital early in the morning and work until about 1. All of the translators come from Cumbaya, and take a peripheral road to get to the hospital, so driving to Quito is inconvenient. I realized that I will not be getting a ride, so the bus is it.

Gustavo suggested I try the bus system instead of the Trole, so we found a red bus outside of the hospital, which took us north through the tunnels. There are blue buses, green buses and red buses, each with slightly different functions and characteristics. The red buses will not take any standing customers, while the blue buses are bigger and can pack more people. The green buses are associated with the Trole system.

The tunnels between south and north Quito are under construction, so only one side of the road is functional. The tunnel road was packed with buses moving at a crawl. We passed by the Panecillo and a huge central market. More and more people got on the bus, and we were squeezed in a corner. We had to get off at Universidad Central, where Gustavo usually goes to school. We found another bus that would drop me off near our apartment, but Avenida America was wall to wall traffic, and we inched home. It took almost two hours for the entire ride home. Gustavo told me it takes him an hour and a half to get to my house from his and another hour and a half to get home. I know that Amparo travels an equal amount of time to get to and from work. Most people in Quito do not have cars (hard to believe when driving the packed streets) and use the public transportation, which is extensive and cheap and convenient in that there are lots of buses which cover every inch of the city and in fact every inch of the country. It is not unusual for many working Quiteños to travel three to four hours daily to and from work. I will part of that group for the next couple of weeks.

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