I needed to get a Yellow Fever vaccination during my first week in Ecuador. While Yellow Fever is not present in the Andes, where I live, it is present in parts of Ecuador I plan on visiting. Also, some countries (like Costa Rica, where I went for a conference in late January) will not let people enter from Yellow Fever-infected countries unless they show proof of having been vaccinated. So, an Ecuadorian assistant from the Embassy (Luis) took me to a public clinic in Quito to get vaccinated.
At the clinic there were patients milling around the entryway, with no real receptionist or information desk in sight. Luis asked someone where the vaccinations were and we were directed around the corner to a room with 2 nurses. One of the nurses instructed me to expose my shoulder, dabbed what I presume to be disinfectant on my upper arm, and gave me an injection. I showed them my international vaccine card, they stamped it, and we were done. The whole thing took maaaaybe 2 minutes, and I never even sat down. No line. No wait. No extraneous paperwork. And NO COST. WHAT?!?!
Because it was complicated for me as a U.S. citizen to get an Ecuadorian visa in Turkey, I entered Ecuador as a tourist and then applied at the Ministry of Exterior Relations for the appropriate exchange visa. This involved 3 trips.
The first trip was to apply for my visa and pay half the visa fee, which took nearly 2 hours, most of which was spent waiting my turn.
On the second trip I waited a little over an hour to pay the other half of the visa fee (why I couldn’t just pay it all at once I do not know).
The third trip I arrived just before the office opened for visa pick up. I then sat and waited for 1 hour and 45 minutes because none of the officials were back from lunch yet. WHAT?!?! It was certainly annoying, but I have to say the other people waiting with me expressed their annoyance and frustration much faster and more strongly than I did. That’s what happens when you spend 10 months cultivating patience in Indonesia.
The bad news: this is the one visa I’ve ever had that actually has my photo printed on it, and it’s possibly one of the most unflattering pictures of me ever. The good news: I now have an Ecuadorian visa (unbecoming though it may be).
My first weekend here I was invited to a wine tasting by a friend at the Embassy. It was informative and tasty and a good way to meet some Ecuadorians, plus it morphed into a night out at a dance club. Wins on all counts! My second weekend here some friends helped me celebrate my birthday at a wine and tapas place, which also morphed into a night out at a dance club. And while we’re on the topic of wine, I am still a little bit surprised every time I go to a restaurant and see alcohol on a menu, which pretty much every restaurant has. I suppose that’s what happens when you live in Muslim countries for a year and a half. PS – Despite how this paragraph may sound, I am not a lush. Although I do enjoy dancing.
Quito rests in a valley, nestled at 9,300 feet in the Andes. It’s breathtaking, both literally (cuz there isn’t a whole lotta oxygen at 9,300 feet) and figuratively. Here is the view from my apartment building’s rooftop terrace. Am I lucky or what?!