Non-Governmental Imagination

Goodbye Ecuador, Hello Peru
December 4, 2006, 7:36 am
Filed under: Ecuador

So I have not been able to update this as much as I would like.  I am now in Piura, Peru, after a 12hr bus ride that was supposed to be 8hrs.  I have to be awake in four hours, so I will keep this brief.

I had a great time in Portoviejo, even though I worked too hard. 

Afterwards Jorge took us to this beach town called Salinas where we relaxed for 24 hrs before going back to Guayaquil.  We went sport fishing (Jorge said we were the buccaneers, but we didnt catch anything) and hung out.  We lived The Good Life, going to lunch at the yacht club, hanging out at his girlfriends beachfront condo, sleeping at his big-ass house, driving in his BMW. 

I am not saying he hasnt earned all of his wealth.  The amount of his time/money/energy that he gives to the poor surpasses that of any American that I know (myself regretfully included).  I frankly think it is arrogant for people to accept wealth in the US as morally neutral but to deride the the rich in other countries because they are somehow more responsible for global poverty. 

But I digress.  It was weird because I always have this idea of doing things on the cheap to save money for Interplast, so eating at yacht clubs a day after helping the uber poor was a bit of a change.  The patients we help are poor.  The folks who do the helping are not.  And truth be told, I was fucking exhausted, and the R&R really gave me new wind for another busy week of 20hr days. 

I had this image of Peru being lush and green or cold and mountainous, but the part the bus drove through was a bland desert.  Ecuador was beautiful with bananas and cacao growing everywhere and the lushness was ready to leap off the road.  That lushness turned to dust in Peru.  Luckily, the Ecuadorian customs dude didnt care that my embarkation card or whatever had also turned to dust. 

I will be here for a week, and might have more internet access, but who knows.


YouTube vs. Blip
December 1, 2006, 7:18 am
Filed under: Ecuador, Web 2.0

Which is better, Blip or Youtube?

YouTube is big. Even before Google bought them, they somehow became a household word. At work, some of The Powers That Be asked that I get us on YouTube. Everyone wants to be the one in a million that becoms huge, and since YouTube snowballed ahead of Revver, Blip, Grouper, etc., they became known amongst the non-tech people as the place to be discovered. Sometimes these non-tech people like things done their way, and that applies soft pressure to join the bandwagon.

Blip seems a lot friendlier than YouTube. When I have a question, I write the main Blip email address and get a response back that sounds like it was written by a real human within 24 hrs. I met Mike, the co-founder at Vloggercon, and he was genuinely nice and helpful, even though I was the least technologocially knowledgeable person in the room.

They are also a lot faster. On the Interplast blog, I have been using both (Interplast on Blip es aqui y Interplast on YouTube es aqui) to upload videos of the visiting educator workshop that I am on right now here in Portoviejo, Ecuador. Tonight I had to upload four videos on my crappy internet connection, and I got halfway done with the fourth one on Blip before YouTube finished processing my first one. Score one for Blip.

I sorta view it as talking to the really nice girl who is sweet, kind, pretty and faithful or the hot chick everyone drools over but probably won’t have time for you.

I resisted using YouTube for so long but broke down before this trip, partly dreaming of Lonelygirl15 fame. But if I can’t load my videos in a timely fashion, then they’re not doing me much good. If the Interplast blog or my YouTube page starts getting oodles of hits/comments will I change my tune? Yup.

Does that make me a whore? Maybe. But I got a job to do, and my time is precious, especially on an Ecuadorian connection.

The nice girl wins, at least for now.


Sleepy Seth
November 28, 2006, 6:45 am
Filed under: Ecuador

Sleepy Seth, originally uploaded by interplast.

On the bus ride back from the hospital tonight I nodded off. This picture, one of 98316498746316546463 taken by the rest of the doctors and nurses who thought that me falling asleep was HILARIOUS, shows me in full nod. Days are long here but really gratifying. Since today was the first day we got off to a slow start and had to figure out which anesthesia machine to use, who would operate in which room, etc. But then we got our groove on.

I was interviewing a father of one of the patients who had scabs covering his entire body. He covered his mouth when he talked, and after a while (we were seated next to each other) he told me that he has this really intense disease that was contagious.


The translators and I went back to the medical theater where we asked some of the Ecuadorian docs what the guy had. One of them made a very grave face and said he had to leave the hospital grounds immediately. I asked if I should not go back in the OR due to my exposure and he cautioned me to stay away. I asked him what could be done (I dont speak Spanish, btw) and he simply made the sign of the cross. At this point he finally broke a smile, and I realized that he was just screwing with me. He said that he is only contagious if he was picking at the sores, which would allow the virus to escape. So for the rest of the day whenever I would walk by him he would make the sign of the cross and I would scratch intensely. It was funny, and its nice to play these little games that allow for communication without understanding a mutual language.

Me and My Ecuadorian Friend
November 27, 2006, 5:30 am
Filed under: Ecuador

Me and My Friend, originally uploaded by interplast.


So, the photo is blurry, but I am in yellow on the left, and my new friend is sporting green on the right.

Allow me (us?) to change things up a little bit. For the next two weeks I will be blogging from Ecuador and Peru about my trip. I am here with Interplast collecting stories and such for communications materials, so if you want to see a more scrubby, Interplast-related version of what I am doing here, check out the Interplast blog.  Feel free to comment there and tell them/me how awesome I am.  This blog will be a more personal impression, and not necessarily having much to do with work.

We (a plastic surgeon, anesthesiologist and nurse practitioner) arrived in Guayaquil, Ecuador last night and spent half of today poking around the city, (where I met my new friend) and the other half driving to Portoviejo, a dumpy yet pleasant town a few hours away. We spent a few hrs at the hospital tonight evaluating patients for tomorrow, had dinner and went back to the hotel.

I am really kicking myself for not learning more Spanish before I came here, I feel like there is an anvil tied to my tongue and I hate not being able to communicate beyond the basics. One of the kids burst into tears at the sight of me, so my non-verbal communications skills are also lacking.

It feels weird that Interplast paid for my ticket and is paying me to be down here. I hope I can make myself useful and get enough yummy content for our newsletters/blogs/brochures/etc to justify the expense. The other team members have started introducing me as the Principal Assistant, a vague yet important sounding title designed to confuse and inspire. I think I can live up to that.

Ok, I am going to take my important self to bed. I will try to update this every day for the week I am here in Portoviejo, but no promises.