I have recently been named Director of Hospital Vozandes del Oriente (HVO) in Shell.  Sometimes I find myself thinking that Administration is mundane and not worth writing about.

Here’s an example of Administration making a difference.

Recently, a four-year old boy named Luis arrived in the hospital with his mother.  His two year old brother had accidently stabbed him in the eye with a knife.  We normally only have ophthalmological coverage every three weeks, but Administration has recently made an agreement with a local ophthalmologist to help with emergencies and surgeries.

The local doctor arrived, and after a couple of surgeries, it seems that Luis will be just fine.

The family does not have very much money, so they are not able to pay the bill, which is a bit more than $1,000.  But HVO administers a charity fund to be used for people with limited resources.  Because of the generosity of givers to the charity fund, Luis’ bill is able to be paid.

Luis and his mother

Water and Electricity

I remember when we lived in Maine, we had occasional droughts, and we had to measure the depth of the water in our well regularly.  I thought that water supply was one thing that we would never have to consider here in Shell, Ecuador, “on the edge of the rain forest.”

I was wrong.

Ecuador is experiencing their worst drought in decades.  Since Ecuador is so dependent on hydro-electric power, the government has begun to ration electricity.  We have had the power turned off for 4-6 hours most every day.

A while ago, we had issues with the water supply as well.  We are still keeping an eye on that.

Please join us in praying for rain.


Just the other day we received our certificates for the completion of the Ecuadorian drivers’ education course that we completed on June 11.  When I (Steve) arrived to pick up the certificates, they gave me another list of things that we had to do or have before we can get our licenses.

Here’s the list:

1.  Copy of cédula of identification.  We don’t have a cédula. We have a censo, which is the identity card for foreign nationals.  I am told that this will suffice.  It has so far for all the other things we have had to do.

2.  Copy of your voting papers.  In Ecuador, the law says that everyone must vote.  It’s not just a right, it’s an obligation for Ecuadorians.  You have to produce this paper every time you do any type of other paperwork.  That’s their way of enforcing the voting law.  We have been told that we don’t need this either, because we are not Ecuadorian.

3.  Copy of blood type and group.  We had to provide this once already.  It involved three trips to the Red Cross to find someone available to do it.  Fortunately, we still have our card, so all we have to do is make a copy.

4.  Two color carnet size photos.  I didn’t even know what a carnet size photo was until we got here.  It’s a little bit smaller than a passport photo.  I think we have already printed and supplied enough of those to wallpaper a small bathroom.  But we’ve only got one left for each of us, so we have to get some more made.

5.  Original of the Legalization Form of the Non-Professional Certificate to Drive.  That’s the form, signed by four different people, that says that we passed the exam given in the drivers’ ed course.  That’s one of the forms that I picked up the other day.

6.  Original of the Non-Professional Certificate to Drive.  This is a suitable-for-framing (if anyone would want to) diploma-like certificate that says we finished the course.  I picked those up from the other day too.

7.  Medical Certificate of health.  This is a new one that we are not too sure about.  The lady at the drivers’ ed place said we could get a certificate of health from any hospital, including the HCJB hospital in Shell, but we have heard from one of the other folks here that they would only allow a certificate from an Ecuadorian hospital.  We’ll see.

8.  Pass the Provincial Transit Commission exam.  This is twenty multiple-choice questions, mostly on the traffic laws and the consequences of disobedience.  We’ll need to bring all of the above paperwork in order to be allowed to take this test.  If we pass, we will (supposedly) get our licenses.

So we will proceed through this list.  Hopefully, it’s the last list.  But it wouldn’t surprise me if some things change between now and the time we complete the list.  Maybe we’ll have our driver’s licenses shortly, and maybe not.  All told, it has been a great exercise in patience.

Drinking Water

We can’t drink the water in our house, so every couple of days I go over to the guest house and fill up our two water jugs.


There is a faucet on the back wall that is connected to the ultraviolet filter under the kitchen sink of the guest house upstairs.



Borrowing our neighbor’s little red wagon makes the walk to the house a bit easier.



Pour the red ones to the blue one, and we’re good to go!


Our Year in 100 Words

April 08:             Grandchildren #7 & #8 arrive, apartment, Costa Rica
May 08:              Hellos, Daniel, Lankaster Gardens, Poas
June 08:             Study, El Lugar, Saturday Dominos
July 08:              4th, gathering, 4 days no water
August 08:         1st tri ends, A’s, goodbyes, Evie
September 08:   Hellos, Steve’s appendix out, Friday Pizza
October 08:        Heredia, Baptism, Camp Brittney
November 08:    AMCA house, Thanksgiving, 80 people
December 08:    Atenas, 2nd tri ends, A’s, goodbyes, USA
January 09:        Hellos, grandchild #9, Friday UNO
February 09:      Sledding at Parque de la Paz
March 09:          Manuel Antonio, Parque Charrarra
April 09:             Baby & wedding showers, wedding, goodbyes, Ecuador

Change of Address – and another one soon…

In Costa Rica, there are no street names or numbers to tell where you live.  Our physical address had been something like this:

“200 meters south of the Margarita Laundromat,

San Francisco de Dos Rios,

Southeast corner,

Orange and White house.”


Old Address - Orange and White
Old Address - Orange and White

Well, the trim color was recently painted, so our new physical address is:

“200 meters south of the Margarita Laundromat,

San Francisco de Dos Rios,

Southeast corner,

Tan (café con leche) and White house.”


New Address - Tan and White
New Address - Tan and White

These are not used for mailing addresses, only to tell someone where your house is.

It’s hard to believe that we have been here in language school for a year already.  We have made many new friends, and will miss them when we move to Ecuador on April 15.

When we arrive in Ecuador, our plan is to spend a few days in Quito before traveling to Shell.  Our mailing address there will be:

Steve and Diane Wilson

Hospital Vozandes del Oriente

Shell, Pastaza, Ecuador

Please only send letters, no packages, until we understand the mail system better.

Here is a more recent picture of our new house in Shell.  We’ll be in the left half.  The renovations inside are continuing.  Hopefully, it will be close to ready when we arrive.


Our House in Shell
Our House in Shell

The Last Trimester

We are now a few weeks into our last trimester here at the Spanish Language Institute, preparing to move to Ecuador in April.  For our studies this trimester, we have elected to do things a bit differently than we did the first two trimesters.

We are both taking a Grammar class.  But we have made some changes for our Language portion.

I (Steve) am taking the FARO option.  It’s an acronym for Facilitator, Ayudante (helper), Route, Observe.  Every week, I meet with at least 7 local people to discuss various themes, all in Spanish.  I review these themes with my helper, and discuss them in class with my facilitator.  Here is a picture of me with Henry, one of the people I have been meeting with.




Henry owned a restaurant in a food court about a ten-minute bus ride from here.  I use the past tense because last week when we went to visit him, his restaurant was closed and locked.  I asked the lady in the restaurant next door, and she told me that he had gone out of business.  I called the phone number that he gave me, but it was disconnected.  I miss him already because we had some great conversations, and it was always so positive talking with him.


Diane has chosen to have a private language teacher.  Maritza, who is a teacher at the Institute, comes to our apartment two days per week for an hour and a half.  This has worked out really well because Maritza is tailoring her teaching to language and vocabulary that is relevant to what Diane may be doing in Ecuador.  Here is a picture of Maritza and Diane at our kitchen table.




Only 60 more days in Costa Rica   –   but who’s counting???