Friday, May 28, 2010


I graduated!! Yes, that's right! Strange but true, with snazzy outfits to prove it. I will miss these ladies, about half of them are headed out into the great wild world! The rest will be close by at trusty HCMC!

The great Rondino! Ronda and I spent COUNTLESS hours studying in my apt, traveled to Europe together, and in general just made it through. She is amazing, and matched in dermatology!

My Body Buddies! Yes, that's a slightly brash term, but literally we shared a cadaver...thus we were body buddies. Me (Psych U of Mn), Chad (Ortho NC), Joe (Diagnostic Radiology RI), Sancia (Internal Med, Tulane)

Flashback! 4 years ago at our white coat ceremony!

And, my fantastic family. I could NEVER have made it through without them. Especially my Mom. Thank you Mom. I can't even tell you how much your support means to me! Dad and Nick, you are alright too:)

Jayne and Elizabeth came!

And my uncle Al! He also had reason to celebrate...

My cousin Vanessa graduated the next day from MNSU!

And the lovely Ellen also attended!

After the ceremony we had lunch at Ecopolitan, my favorite restaurant! I was so lucky that Mike, Beth and Gary all joined for lunch. The fun continued the next night as Lisa joined us for a sushi dinner...And I got one of the long coveted Anthro aprons! Thank you everyone for making my graduation so special!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

The Inca Trail

And it began. 4 days of hiking to reach Machu Piccu via the Inca trail. Day 1.

 The top of dead woman's pass, day 2

The woman, see her?

The top of the second mountain, day 2

The first ruins, late afternoon day 2

Still had to hike all the way over there for camp!

The view from my tent, morning of day 3

The ruins, end of day 3

The almost there.

Finally, 7:30 am day 4


Hasta Luego

Wednesday, May 19, 2010


After sleeping overnight in the Lima Airport and a 5 am flight into Cusco, everyone should hold a baby lamb! Welcome to Cusco!

Que bonita. At 11,200 ft you can really feel the alt alt altitude. Every hotel offers coca tea to help with the adjustment. Coca tea is delicious. Chewing coca leaf...mmm...not so much.

Plaza de Armas. Cusco is derived from the Quechua word Qusqu. Quechua is a completly phonetic language, and Qusqu sounds like two rocks slowly rubbed against each other.

 Half Incan, half spanish. This city is amazing. It was also chilly. Note my baby alpaca get up!

I ate one million times better in Peru. Quinoa tabouli..YES PLEASE!

Palta rellena-stuffed avacado. Here continues my love affair with mayonesa!

There was also a little sampling of the local fare-Cuy!

Which turns into this. Not GF. I had to live vicariously through this one, as can you...

A little protein before hitting the inca trail!

Intra Ecuadorian Travel

Cuenca! I was able to attend Easter mass at this gorgeous cathedral. Shortest mass of my life. Less than 30 minutes, including full communion! I could have easily lasted another 30 minutes just staring at the amazing alter piece.

The cathedral. The weather in Cuenca was amazing. The cool mountain air was a delightful break from the humidity of Milagro.

The 3 blue domes that make this cathedral so famous!

Plus a Panama hat factory! Yes indeed, Panama hats are actually from Ecuador. Sounds like a trivial pursuit question to me!

Onto Ruta del Sol. First stop, Salinas.

Good ceviche...still using prophylactic pepto just in case...

Nasty ceviche, with mayonesa! Thank God for the pepto!

Amazing seafood spread! Lobster, langostinos, shrimp, mussels, squid, octopus and patacones!! I may or may not have needed a refill on that garlic butter too :)

Ruta del Sol finished up in Montanita. What a crazy cool town, and not for anyone over 30! Beautiful beaches, wild horses, and a serious rasta attitude!

Ahh. Soaking up the beach before heading to the Montañas!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010



Milagro! My home for 3 weeks! The city of pineapples and sugar cane. Located about 40 min outside of Guayaquil, Milagro is smaller but much louder, busier and dustier! We stayed in the city center in Hotel Don Juan, recommended by the hospital.

Real Piñas, on the way to the hospital!

The view from our hotel! The night we arrived, sirens sounding and people screaming I ran to this window to see what the commotion was.  A shop below our hotel had somehow started on fire. People gathered and quickly the firefighters arrived and ran in with hoses. Once the area had been calmed, multiple news crews showed up. Quite the excitement for the first night.

Basically a constantly bustling city center. Loud honking taxis, tons of people, street vendors galor, bikes, motorcycles, cars and even horse drawn wagons!

Hotel Don Juan. Really a very nice place. Agua caliente, TV con cable,  air conditioning,  and Desayuno every morning.

Speaking of Desayuno, I needed to stock up at the local store to survive! I thought, I'll buy canned fruit for breakfast! That would be perfect, but...HOLY PEACHES!!! This country loves their Durazno. And no, there wasn't a canned pineapple in sight...or any other fruit for that matter :)

The hotel had a full kitchen right down the hall from our room. They were truly gracious hosts, and allowed us to use a portion of the fridge and dishes at our request. We survived, although it wasn't always 5 star dinning!

But hey. A coast town does have its advantages...  fresh cangrejo!

After breakfast an MMI bus picked us up every weekday morning at 7:40 for the ride to the hospital. The hospital de las Piñas was located on the outskirts of town. The ride in every morning was always entertaining. Chickens, pigs, millions of stray dogs and little food stands peppered your view constantly.

Then we would get to work! Jon, Wislande (my savior-our ophthalmology technician!!) and I, ready to get busy!


In 2001 MMI opened the Centro Cristiano de Servicios Medicos-Milagro, headed by Dr. Rios. This program offers a 12 bed hospital which includes screening patients, operations and a training program which focuses on caring for the poor.

We typically screened patients in the morning. We'd go at a fairly quick pace, and with Wisland's help I could actually conduct and exam and interview. When we finished with patient's for the morning, the hospital provided a home cooked lunch in the guesthouse daily. Often in the afternoon we'd continue seeing patients still waiting. Sometimes we would travel to the local university to do vision screens on incoming freshman.

If we weren't in the clinic we were in the OR. Dr. Rios provides surgical services to patients from all over Ecuador. He also travels to the US to obtain corneas! We were lucky enough to be there for almost an entire week of cornea transplants. We also saw pteriogoid removal, cataract surgery, strabismus repair, and trauma...think injuries at banana plantations!!!

And then we were done, ready to get our travel on! Ecuador finishes with a recap of Cuenca and Ruta Del Sol...