Sunday, January 10, 2016

Taking Heed. . . Lest You Fall

While taking care of a couple of errands Thursday, and doing them *together,* Carolyn Anne had yet another fall to the ground.  She was walking right behind me - two steps back, in fact - as she took yet another tumble.  This time, we were in front of Hospital Monte Sinai here in Cuenca in the very modern and up to date Ave. Solano neighborhood, with its wide boulevard, flat streets and sidewalks, and modern buildings all around.  

There are a number of curb cuts to access points by car to the hospital, including a parking garage, as one walks the sidewalk in front of the medical complex on the other side of the street from the hospital that houses medical offices and the farmacia.  The curb cut closest to the street for the parking garage might be two inches deep as one is closest to the street walking along the sidewalk.  One inch deep as one is further away, and the same depth as one gets the furthest away from the street along the sidewalk walking past the parking garage driveway entrance.  Well, Carolyn Anne didn't judge the depth of the sidewalk ahead to be any kind of a depression at all, apparently and took a tumble, causing a deep cut to the left eyebrow area at the edge of her eyebrow (which ended up getting four stitches).  She was walking where the change in depth to the sidewalk was about one inch difference.

Three to four Cuencano/as came to immediately assist her before I could even turn around and see what had happened.  There's that many people using the sidewalk in front of this hospital here in Cuenca, and in Cuenca generally this is the case.  Sidewalks are full of people walking as it is customary and expected.  Many don't even own cars.  Blood was spurting out of her face above her eye, and Carolyn Anne was furiously trying to wipe it up with her brown hankerchief to no avail. . . the blood kept on pumping out, and the ensuing mess on her Grace Chapel light green 2015 Community Day of Service tee shirt and pants was spread all over her clothes, drying eventually.  

I raised her up as a fellow Cuencano rushed to obtain a wheelchair located in the parking garage.  Now seated on the wheelchair, we wheeled her across the street to the Emergency Room, and took care of business. . . again.  This was all too familiar, but at a different hospital this time.  No X Rays or anything this time, though thank God!  Just clean up of the wound and four stitches.  

Since Monte Sinai is a private hospital, we had to pay upon leaving - and we had a guard escort to ensure we did so (that's the system here in Ecuador for private hospitals, btw).  The damages were $68.36 in total, and we were able to pay the cashier in the business office immediately upon discharge.  

The lesson here?  Certainly was one.  Obviously, when we are walking together, hold hands (which we have not been doing. . . long story there - but not a bad one.  Don't read anything into it that isn't there, folks).  Be very diligent to know about every step that you take.  Lessee. . . I remember a song lyric from "Every Breath You Take" by The Police which states "Every move you make/every step you take/I'll be watching you."  Those particular words fit.  

Spiritually speaking too we are reminded of the words from the Apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 10:12 which say "take heed where you stand lest you fall."  Actually, the ESV text reads "Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall."  And that's the problem and challenge in a nutshell: thinking that one stands when actually. . . one is on the precipice of falling.  We must constantly take heed!  Especially in places that might seem familiar.  Checking things out, testing, proving. . . all that wonderful counsel from God's Word through the writings of the Apostle Paul, among others, is the key in a world where things appear to be, seem, are one thing on the surface when, in fact. . . danger is lurking just around the corner.  

We have been warned once again, haven't we?

As Carolyn Anne heals up, her left eye area has turned violet due to bruising, as has an area past her hip - both these places got bruised, obviously.  Ribs are sore and likely bruised on one side, too.  Her glass frames got bent on one side, and have been fashioned back into place good as new!  Her stitches come out Monday.  We really need your continued prayers for her (and me as well) as both of our coordination and balance functions are not exactly normal, nor strong at our age.  Falling down here in Cuenca or in Ecuador by foreign expatriates is not uncommon, but we all need to be aware of the dangers and take appropriate heed to how we all move through space here while walking.  

Turning a page. . . 

The new teaching schedule for Arco Language Institute is out, and we teachers have six month terms, new terms starting every three months.  As a smaller language school, we can offer the beginning and intermediate levels of conversational English language classes, but doing a pre TOEFL or TOEFL preparation class isn't doable given the level of classroom space Iglesia Verbo Cristiana makes available to us.  So Arco's focus is on beginning to intermediate level of English conversation skills, which allow for local nationals to converse with the foreigners amongst them in jobs in hotels, restaurants, travel, hospitals, phamacies, retail, and the like.  

My contribution at present is to teach when the regular teachers aren't available to be there.  There looks to be definite need in March when a couple of teachers plan to be away, and I hope to be able to contribute that way at that time.  Thanks for praying for my preparations in advance!  

We've ordered a Smartphone from that should allow us to make international calls to the States once we get an Ecuador SIM card for it and get service on it.  It will have portals to Skype Voice and Whatsapp, which I understand is both voice and text communication.  We aren't texters, btw and will be sticking to voice calling.  The Whatsapp app will be very helpful in circumventing the excessively high prices the Ecuadorian telecoms want to charge for voice calls, and we look forward to getting used to using these ways of calling.  

Our landlady happens to be on a trip to the States at the moment and has agreed to "mule" the phone to us in her luggage.  Ecuador protects its telecom industry by confisticating internationally supplied new cell phones via the Aduanas - Customs enforcement.  Commercial shipment isn't allowed, but bringing in a personal amount on a commercial flight is.  New smartphones here in Ecuador will run you in the high $500 range at minimum, and can go to over $700 or even more.  Not paying those prices if we can help it!  We are grateful to God for our landlady and her helpfulness to us.  

I am at my lowest weight since my mid forties.  I'm now about ten pounds less than I was when last visiting the United States a few months ago.  Walking daily - sometimes for up to two kilometers or more - and not eating a whole lot compared to how it's done in the States are two good reasons why.  The more healthful food here in Ecuador is another.  Very grateful to God for the lost weight and for looking more normal sized day by day.  

Meanwhile on the health insurance front, we are working with friends at Iglesia Verbo to assist us in enrolling in the IESS health insurance program Ecuador offers its citizens - and since the start of 2015, foreign resident nationals (expats) like us.  I had to obtain earlier last month a RUC tax account number due to my teaching employment at the SRI (Ecuador's IRS) office here in Cuenca, and I could do so using my Spanish skills.  I am less certain of those communicational abilities when it comes to enrolling for a government health insurance program.  I could be wrong, and can do it myself, but I'd rather not make mistakes or get ourselves into needless complications due to communicational errors.  So just to be sure, we'll go with a friend from our Verbo church to the IESS office.  We hear we can enroll on the Internet, but given our status as foreign resident nationals, I believe seeing the official eye to eye is the best means of communication.  Looking forward to seeing how that goes, and having the insurance coverages allowed which will reduce our health care expenditures in a significant way.  

I keep reading in sources such as Gringo Post on the Internet of fellow expats who charge for this sort of assistance - actually, it's more common to see notices from Ecuadorian nationals to offer these services for a charge.  That's the whole "Facilitator" gambit going on here in Ecuador among the expats.  Hire someone for a communicational task that you are not familiar or comfortable with.  I can understand some doing this, but probably the majority of expats with some Spanish speaking ability can do a lot for themselves without having to hire out for this sort of thing. . . and all the other tasks one might want to do living here.  It's part of the adventure of living in Ecuador if you ask me!

As an example of Gringos feeding off of Gringos, in today's Gringo Post there's an individual charging $40 a person (limit six individuals for this class) to learn how to use their smartphone or tablet to take photographs/videos.  Doing some quick arithmetic, that's a likely $240 going to the poster/teacher.  Easy money if you ask me, and while it may be the going rate in Ecuador, strikes me as something that could be offered for free, if the person really wanted to share the knowledge they have with the expat community.  Your mileage may vary.  

Another example from Gringo Post: a Samsung Galaxy 6 smartphone 32 gigabyte is advertised for sale for $400.  Two of 'em, in fact.  Memory is cheap, even in Ecuador and this phone likely in the States went for $200 give or take.  Easy profit to the poster. . . if PT Barnum's famous adage of "there's a sucker born every minute" holds.  

And here's another from an EC national: Ecuadorian cooking classes offered to unsuspecting Gringos for $20 a (two hour) lesson or $150 for the 16 hours of courses.  Limit eight students per class.  Again, doing the math, this works out to be $1200 for the teacher for the four week period involved.  From an expat perspective, that $20 or $150 sounds reasonable coming from a place like the United States. . . but this is Ecuador, where the average family monthly income is a bit more than $600 a month.  That $1200 is double that, of course.  Ka-ching!

As you can see, here in Ecuador, land of the Wild Wild West, anything can and does go.  Regulation and "fairness?"  Out the window.  Caveat Emptor - buyer beware.  And that was for items with stated prices.  All manner of classes, workshops, and such are offered on English language Internet sites here in Ecuador all the time. . . some of them having to do with frankly Gnostic religious "knowledge" that claims to be what everybody's looking for.  All for a price, of course.  

There are those in the expat community that are willing to assist for free, like us, or at a nominal cost that is appropriate to the situation.  You can see both kinds of expats out in the Cuenca community everyday, as well as on the Gringo Post notices.  

1 comment:

  1. so awesome you sre getting healthy PLEASE BE CAREFUL CAROLYNann