I will be the first to admit that I’ve had a couple of fails.
You know how people say, “goodnight, sleep tight, and don’t let the bedbugs bite?” I didn’t realize that bedbugs were an actual thing until, well, I got bit by bedbugs. I woke up one day and saw tiny red dots all over my arms and stomach. At first, I really freaked out. I thought I had some contagious disease. But after looking up “tiny red bug bites” online, I soon figured out the problem: bedbugs. That night, I covered myself from head to toe. Hoodie with the hood up, long sleeves covering my hands, long pants, and socks. Finally, on Saturday night, I was able to wash my blankets and clothes. I rigorously hand washed my clothes to the best of my ability. But of course, that night it rained really hard and drenched my freshly washed clothes. We put new blankets on and that was that. Now every night I sleep head to toe covered because I’m not exactly sure if my bug problem has been solved. I also spray myself and my bed with 99.8% DEET bug repellent. I slather myself with anti-itch medicine every couple of hours and I have to really try hard not to scratch.
Now, one of my main intentions for my gap year is to say “yes” to more opportunities. The fiestas of Natabuela were coming up and I was asked if I wanted to dance in the parade with my host mom. I immediately said yes. I wasn’t going to let my bug bites get in the way of cultural and community immersion. The first practice was on Monday night. After dinner, my mom left for practice, and I went with my sister Daniela a little later. It was around 8 pm, so it was dark outside, but the road was illuminated by the street lamps. I walked with my sister on the sidewalk, arms intertwined. I didn’t know where the practice was being held, so I let my sister lead the way. We had to cross the street and, in order to do that, we had to jump over the secia where the water runs through. Since the road isn’t paved, it’s mostly uneven rocks. As I was getting ready to jump, my sister jumped-with my arm in hand. I landed on the outside of my left ankle instead of landing on my feet. I stayed on the ground for a solid moment. Daniela insisted we go to dance practice so I hopped all the way there and then hopped all the way back home.
The next day I went to the clinic with Ian (the intern), waiting for 2 hours before we got to see the doctor. Once we saw the doctor, he said I needed to get an X-ray. So once again we went out and got the X-ray, me in the wheelchair and Ian pushing me. When we got back, the doctor had to go do an emergency surgery, so we waited some more. He finally got back, but other patients went in and we waited for even longer. Finally, I got in and got my ankle wrapped. He told me to come back in 10 days. The doctor had prescribed a boot for my foot. Ian went to three farmacias and none of them had it. They could order it but it would cost $50 more than getting crutches so I got the crutches instead. All I could do back home was rest on my possibly bedbug infested bed. No WiFi, nothing to do, I just napped.
I kept thinking to myself, what bad luck. But, when I was thinking about it, I couldn’t help but think about all the kindness and support I was exposed to through these experiences. When I got bit by the bugs, my mom helped me wash my blankets. My mom and dad later helped me put on my new sheets and a blanket on my bed. When I fell, the first person to help me was my sister Daniela. She let me put all my weight on her as I hopped on one leg to seek some help. My mom later helped me get to the house and my dad immediately examined my ankle and put Biofreeze on it. He then carefully wrapped my foot with a cloth and told me to rest. When I contacted Marilyn, my team leader, she immediately got ahold of Ian so he could take me to see a doctor. Ian spent his whole afternoon, from 12 to 5 pm, with me. He didn’t even have lunch because of me. Diego, the local transportation advisor, drove us to the hospital and back home and even waited for a few hours with us. When I told my apprenticeship supervisor, Kathy, about my ankle, she told me to rest and take as many days I needed to recover. My abuelita walks from her house to bring me food on a tray since my parents go to work. My other abuelita came and made us lunch and I ended up getting twice the amount of food I needed. The other fellows have checked in on me, asking how I am doing. Although I’ve had some epic fail moments, the love and support I’ve gotten out of them have made me realize how lucky I am to be surrounded by loving and caring people here in Ecuador.