Quite early yesterday morning, I met my grandparents and Nieves on the corner outside my house, hopped in the car and headed out north of Quito to Cotacachi. We were fortunate at that early hour to have a splendid view of the snow-capped mountain Cayambe, and then as we neared our destination a panorama of smaller (though here, that is still quite large) green mountains and crooked quebradas. It was a beautiful ride, which culminated in our arrival in the beautiful old town around 8am. We wound around some cobble stone roads, past a school and little shops, and found our way to the little hospital at which we’d made our appointment.
There were already some people there, mostly just waiting around in the grass outside or in the large waiting rooms. In comparison to my experience of clinics/hospitals in Burkina Faso and Bangladesh, where more than an hour before doctors arrived there were usually crowds of people squatting out front, I felt it all to be quite calm and organized. However, I immediately noticed the familiar anti-septic smell of scrubbed concrete hospital floors and heavily bleached tile surfaces that I have come to associate specifically with rural health care facilities and that tends to always put me (and others I believe) in a mild state of anxiety or discomfort.
The doctor Audrey García, a young Columbian in her eighth month of pregnancy, kindly gave us over an hour of her time to explain a little about the health care system in the area, their particular program (especially around obstetrics), and their vision. She also gave us a short tour to check out the new birthing room for “vertical births,” the typical birthing room, and one of the labor rooms (in which we met two of the hospital’s obstetricians.) After the tour, we also had the opportunity to meet the gynecologist who is also the surgeon who performs c-sections.