My first day translating at Tierra Nueva worked out wonderfully. I chose to take the 'Trole' and the bus and traveled only an hour to arrive on time. The doctors and nurses were friendly and helpful and appreciative and I felt useful and competent (which I did not expect). I was invited to watch a hip replacement/revision, so spent alot of time in the operating room. The orthopedic attending explained every step of the operation to me, and made sure I saw what the three surgeons were doing. My patient's name was Angel, and he was 65 years old and retired. He had had a partial hip replacement two years ago, and had been in pain since, and this time the old prosthesis was removed and a completely new titanium hip inserted. I remembered how much I enjoyed surgery when I was a student, particularly orthopedic surgery. I had once been sure I was going to be a surgeon before I chose to pursue psychiatry, so being in the OR was comforting and inspiring. I was so very impressed with everyone in this CAMTA (Canadian medical teams abroad) group. They come every year to Quito and spend two weeks providing free care to those in need. There is a pediatric team and an adult team in each of the two operating rooms, and both are busy all day.
My translating was adequate but hardly stellar. I got by, and that was enough, since most of the staff were unable to communicate in Spanish at all. The patients were very appreciative and that felt good, and I did not embarrass myself!
Although I did not feel comfortable with the commuting, I was pleased that I found my way, and having gone with Gustavo yesterday made a huge difference. I asked anyone I could where I was going, both on the Trole and on the bus, although I felt reasonably confident that I knew where I was going anyway. Whew!
I find it difficult to really see the difference between north and south Quito. Everyone has told me how dangerous and disadvantaged the south is, but in fact, except for all the highrises near our apartment, and the colonial homes in the Centro Historico, most of Quito looks about the same. The shopping centre at 'Recreo', where the Trole Station is, has the same shops as are seen at the other malls in the city. The streets are full of people and cars and buses and taxis much like any other part of Quito, and the inhabitants look no different than in our area. There are no shanty towns, at least I have seen none, not like in Rio or Soweto. Or perhaps I am naive and not seeing enough. I am focused on getting where I am going, as is everyone else on the bus or the Trole.
I will return to Tierra Nueva for three days next week. My friend Debra arrives tonight from Salt Lake City, and we leave for Yasuni Thursday for a great adventure.