Drunken Psychiatrists in Ecuador

I return home from my Quilatoa trek to a very quiet hostel. The boys are still at the beach, there is nothing on television and I soon get bored. Answer; wander down to the local pub to have a few beers and to see what the night will bring. Within one hour I am in a very loud pub comparing our respective governments and healthcare systems my new friend Dr Ricardo alberto hidalgo Molina. Dr Ric is a very intelligent and currently very drunk psychiatrist from Chile. It would seem that he owns a never ending bottle of whiskey. Many people come and join our table, this man knows everyone despite being a long way from home. I do not dwell on this fact. Dr Ric is very short of stature, has a big beard, big heart and is everything a good psychiatrist should be…..crazy and smart and with zero inhibitions. His lack of inhibitions is beautifully displayed when, despite my protests, he forces me onto a stage to salsa dance with some friends of his.

The night and whiskey flows by, at around 2 am I decide it is time to go. Whilst waiting for a taxi Dr Ric decides to analyze two rastifarian drug dealers to find out what “makes them tick”. Thankfully just as he is hitting some raw nerves a taxi arrives to our rescue. The two mean looking men realizing a sale is not going to happen look about ready to really loose patience with their impromptu psychoanalsis. We bundle into a taxi and head for home. So I thought.

Dr Ric joins me and two new friends of ours in a taxi. Ric downed a few quick whiskeys just prior to leaving. The effect of which is that he has no idea where he is staying and is confusing his french, spanish and english. After about an hour of dead ends and last minute U-turns we see Dr Ric safely to his hotel and out of our care. He leaves telling me I must come and stay with him for christmas in Chile. I thought this was an empty promise.

My two new friends, both students keen to practice their english, invite me to their home for a night cap. “It is not far away” they assure me. Soon I am in a student apartment 45 minutes out of town in a very shady looking neighbourhood. We share two beers between the three of us, tell a few stories and soon we are ready for bed. It is 3am and not one car is on the road, I have no intentions of walking anywhere apart from to the bathroom. My student friends kindly offer me their guest room for the night. The guest room is a closet sized room about one meter high, under their stairs with just enough room for a single mattress. I crawl in and fall asleep clutching my money and jacket. I am slightly concerned that I will be robbed. Last week I had my wallet stolen along with $300, my credit, bank cards and my drivers license. Needless to say I am hesitant to trust anyone at this stage. My new friends seem ok though…..

I wake in the morning, promptly bash my head on the very low ceiling and emerge from my hobbit hole somewhere in Quito. I am slightly disorientated and thankfully still clutching my money and jacket. I wake my friends, thank them for a great night, share empty promises to catch up again and bid them farewell. They still do not believe that we eat kangaroo in Australia.

Back at the hostel I have two days of spanish classes. My classes involve walking around the beautiful town of Quito with my teacher, hanging out in parks and asking strangers for directions and the time. If only pharmacy classes were as pleasant.

In these two days I manage to find an orphanage to deliver some donations for two friends in Tasmania. A very rewarding and sobering experience. Despite help from Ecuador’s postal employee I also manage to send a package of presents home to my beloved niece and nephew to fill their christmas stockings. The postal lady seemed more interested in opening all the presents to find out what is in them. Hopefully she decides that my family need the presents more than hers!

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