Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Second Day in Ecuador Was Spent in Hospital

Pam and I had a wonderful dinner at the Mansion del Angel where we chatted with several other Americans who were also staying there. Pam ordered Quiche and a salad and I ordered Shrimp in wine sauce. Big mistake. About three hours shall I out this delicately?.......My stomach decided it didn't want to deal with my meal. In short. all night I was sicker than the proverbial dog. Finally the next day things got so miserable that we called in a house doctor who started me on IVs and said I shoud go to the hospital. I said i didn't need to go to the hospital. He charged us only $70 for the visit and then later sent over another doctor (an internist) for a second opinion. This internist was a very young woman (still had braces on her teeth), but was very persuasive so I said I'd admit myself to Metropolitan Hospital in Quito which has an excellent reputation.I woulo have agreed to almost anything to escape the discomfort whcih I can only compare to being sea sick and hung over simulataneously.

Now, haev you ever tried to admit yourself to a hospital in a foreign country where nobody speaks English and you don' t know the system? Fortunately we had a driver, Agostino, who took a personal interest in us and fortunately was bilingual. He stayed with us through the ER admission process and later stayed even after I was admitted to the hospital itself. He charged us maybe $80 for all the services and support he provided.

So began my real life exploration of the quality of the medical system in Ecuador. Sparing many details, I was very impressed with the equality of care I received. I saw at least 15 doctors who varied in English speaking from zero to excellent. One doctor after another came in from various specialties and all asked exactly the same questions to which I gave the same answers I had given their predecessor.

They all worked as a team, though, which was very impressive. I did have to put up with a nurse Ratchett but she was the exception. Most of the staff was extremely caring, gentle and concerned. Next day, I got the good news: no serious problem; just an intestinal infection (versus some other possibilities they were trying to rule out). Said to  stay away from salads, diary products, mayonnaise, and of course, non-bottled juices and waters. 

The bill for all this care? About $695 which was an expense I didn't need, but frankly I was expecting a bill of about $3000 by US standards.

So, it was on to Cotachachi for another adventure. Stay'll love this one!

First Day In Ecuador And Already CausingTrouble

Had  a beautiful flight from Los Angeles to Panama City to Quito, Ecuador. But, after we landed the trouble started. Went through customs and actually was in Ecuador for about 2 minutes when I was approached by a distraught man and a customs official who asked me to identify my suitcase as the man claimed I had taken his! Problem was, he was right! I had accidentally picked up the wrong one that looked very similar to mine. My challenge at that moment was to explain all that in SPANISH to the custom's official. So, back to the other side of the Customs's door where I located my suitcase but now had to go through the whole line again with the correct baggage behind a party who had about 50 suitcases that they had to load onto the conveyor belt.

In the end,everything turned out OK and we were on our way to the Hotel Mansion de Angels In Quito where more adventures awaited us.More on that in the next blog. Stay tuned!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Finally got our Inoculations for our Ecuador Trip

Pam and I finally went to our different medical systems to receive our recommended vaccinations in preparation for our trip to Ecuador. First issue was deciding which vaccinations we really needed. Our MDs recommended we visit the CDC website (Center for Disease Control) to answer that question.

We did that and found it to be extremely informative. You go to and click on "travelers' health." Then go to "destinations" and then "Ecuador." All the information you need is right there.

We both decided on inoculations for typhoid, tetanus, diphtheria, whooping cough, Hepatitis A and Hepatitis B.

Now comes the fun part. I went to Kaiser for my shots: Total cost: $0

Pam went to Scan and her total cost (out of Pocket) for exactly the same shots: $700.

Wow! We can't figure out the difference yet as both of us have medicare to begin with which we then used to contract with the two different health systems.

Will investigate the issues when we return. Health care is a major issue for us, ,and part of the equation in our decision to maybe retire in Ecuador.

More later......

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Spanish Anyone?

One of the first questions people ask when they learn we plan on first visiting Ecuador for a month and then checking it out as a retirement destination is :" How is your Spanish?" Well, I have discovered that my Spanish is much better in my mind than it is in actual conversation. You see, I had two years of Spanish in high school and then another two years in college, but that was like 40 years ago!

So, last January Pam and I hired a private tutor to meet with us once a week to teach us Spanish. Wonderful guy who was a certified teacher of both English and Spanish. But, very little progress because we had no opportunity to practice it between sessions. I admired his patience, though.

So, I thought I'd buy Rosetta Stone per their advertisements. But, the cost was almost $600. So, I spotted a discounted Rosetta Stone package on the internet from China at a cost of only $100. Sounded too good to be true. It was guaranteed to be fully functional with a key code to unlock it. So, I purchased it, ignoring the little guy in my brain that said "don't do is a scam....if it sounds too good to be true, it is!"

Well, you guessed it. It didn't work! It was impossible to get my money back! I still couldn't speak Spanish.

So, now it is about two weeks before we travel to Ecuador and we will go to Plan B: Learn the language through immersion in the culture. We understand that many of the people we will be interacting with in Quito and Cuenca are bilingual and are eager to practice their English. So, maybe we can trade. Spanish lessons and tutoring are also supposed to be very inexpensive there, so we might just join a class.

Will keep you posted, amigos.......