Latacunga Stories and Tips

Week 57 - Restaurant Injections (Ecuador)

In a week that saw the unfortunate demise of an innocent dog under the wheels of our car, plus many more numerous dead people on the front pages of the newspapers, who seem to have a sadistic pleasure in showing off dead bodies, the best piece of news I experienced was finding out that the university I am working for is paying for an all-expenses holiday to the Galapagos Islands for my girlfriend and I. Not only this but as well as also getting free transport and travel throughout Ecuador, if we continue working at the University next semester after Christmas, we will also get beach and jungle holidays as well. Not bad, considering we would have got $10 per hour for teaching, and we only normally work 3 hours each a week.

I wish I could say that the whole week was blessed with good news like this, but sadly I would be telling a jackanory. At the start of the week I realized that my body was receiving nasty little bites from creatures of the night, and I couldn’t put my finger on the reason why. One trip to the doctor confirmed my worst fears, that I had caught flees off the children. Not the nicest thing to have in the world, that’s for sure. After last week with the food poisoning epidemic, this week it’s flees that everybody is having the pleasure of dealing with. I’m glad I wasn’t alone in catching them!

Another annoying lesson to be learnt was finding out that my return flights, both to America and England cannot be changed and I will have to buy brand spanking new tickets that will seriously eat in to my budget. Apparently it seems common knowledge to everybody, apart from myself that airline tickets are only valid for a maximum of a year, which certainly would have been highly useful when buying my tickets! To be honest though, I’m not that bothered as it would have cost more to buy one-way tickets than return tickets.

Teaching has been very much on the easy side this week, thanks to being demoted from teacher to teaching assistant at school, which I was surprised has many benefits and makes life much simpler. Not only do I now have no lesson plans to write but I also get to participate in plentiful colouring activities with the children. It’s nice to know my education and qualifications are being put to good use!

Luckily for morale, the same cannot be said for my teaching assistant role at the Military University where it seems I have had the opposite luck, being promoted to the role of full teacher, as the teachers I should be working with always have some excuse to why they can’t teach the lesson. The last lesson saw the teacher not attending due to having to judge a beauty queen pageant for the upcoming Halloween party. I really can’t fault excuses like that though as I know which option I would choose, even if it does leave me alone in front of 30 gawping students totally unprepared!

This happened in one of my classes this week, as I was banking on the teacher helping me through a class discussion talking about the topical subject of Aids in Africa. As to be expected though my teacher had a more pressing issue to contend with and left me to teach the class myself. Only 15 minutes in to the lesson I had already gone through all the material I had, and with no sign of the returning teacher, it left me with 45 minutes worth of time to fill. It’s at moments like this when for someone reason I find the most random topics to talk about and by the end of the lesson I had covered African topics such as prostitution, female circumcision and mob justice. Luckily the class seemed to find these topics far more interesting than the original lesson plan and questions were flying in from even the shyest of students asking how much a prostitute costs and the detailed process of circumcising the female gender. As there was nothing else to talk about I happily obliged with all the gory details, leaving most of the girls tightly holding their crotches for the remainder of the lesson. What a great way to bond with your students! Strangely though, this was easily my most successful lesson taught in Ecuador so far!

I did wonder why the class thought I would have all the price-lists for prostitutes in Africa, and then I remembered an incident earlier in the week with the same class, when seeing if anyone would be interested in showing me the delights of a local nightclub. It seems the meaning of ‘nightclub’ in Ecuador is completely different to that of England as upon asking the class this question, I was met with a variety of strange and disgusted looks (especially off the young females!) and a lot of giggling. I later learnt that while ‘nightclub’ in England means a place where you can drink, dance and be merry, ‘nightclub’ in Ecuador basically means ‘brothel’. I soon rectified my mistake regarding this important matter. The class didn’t seem too bothered anyway, as by the end of the lesson I had been offered more numerous free salsa lessons by my eager students. If all goes to plan I will be taking some of them up on their kind offers this weekend!

There were more embarrassing moments to come. Due to being ill, my girlfriend was prescribed antibiotics in the form of injections. Although untrained, incompetent and totally inadequate for such a highly skilled, delicate and important task, the injecting duty fell upon my very own shoulders. Carrying out such injections in a home environment wouldn’t be a problem at all, but having to do so in the only toilet of a restaurant we were eating in did give me a bad case of sweaty hands. It didn’t help matters when I realized the door couldn’t be locked.

I don’t know what really happened after my girlfriend and I had entered the toilet cubicle, but in the space of a minute a virtually empty restaurant had become the most vibrant, bustling restaurant in the whole of the city. Realizing that someone could open the door at any second, I made my first mistake, pressing too hard on the tiny glass bottle containing the mixture of anti-biotic drugs, shattering the top of the bottle and sending shards of glass deep in to four of my fingers. With blood dripping down my arms and on to the floor it was at this moment a young girl innocently opened the unlockable toilet door only to be confronted by myself covered in blood. Obviously shocked she ran away without saying a word.

I managed to get myself cleaned and composed, and was just about to carry out my first ever injection when the young girl returned with her mother, who thrust open the toilet door to see what horrific scenes her young daughter had been exposed to. I think this time was more of a shock for the young girl, as instead of being confronted by a guy with bloody hands, this time she was confronted with a guy holding a very large needle, his girlfriend leaning over the toilet with the pale flesh of her ass on show for all to see.

I always thought it was normal for restaurants to keep their toilets well away from the dining areas for sanitary and health reasons, but this was not the case for this Ecuadorian restaurant. Unfortunately for both myself and my girlfriend as the irate mother pulled open the toilet door, our antics were broadcast to the now full, busy restaurant. The mother, somewhat disgusted looked on, as did the rest of the now silent restaurant at what I’m sure they thought were totally disgraceful antics. After seeing the needle and my bloody fingers she retreated to complain to the manager, leaving me to accomplish my first injection in peace. I have to say even though completely innocent, the walk out of the restaurant, wasn’t a pleasant one with the majority of the customers eye-balling us all the way to the door. Shame really, as I would have loved to eat there again!

I’m hoping next week will contain less embarrassing moments, but with a Halloween party, and a bigger better Mama Negra Fiesta, containing more free alcohol planned I can see there might be one or two more stories to be told!

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