Sunday, June 22, 2008

And Off to Ecuador! Random Thoughts..

These are just random thoughts I had during my flight. I will update with actual blogs in the near future :) the photos below may or may not match the writing... the picture of the cars/mountains is of Quito! quite developed.

Friday, June 20, 2008


Flight 931, American Airlines, Seat 11A

Travel Companion, Jess Lee, Seat 11B

Itinerary: Boston (Logan) > NYC (La Guardia) > Miami, FL (MIA) > Quito, Ecuador

Time of departure from Boston: 11am, Thursday, June 19, 2008

Missed connecting flight to Miami by about 5 minutes

Standby flight delayed

Missed connecting flight to Quito from Miami

Given free voucher to stay at Dadeland Courtyard Hotel 30 minutes south of MIA + $10 dinner, $10 lunch, $5 breakfast vouchers

Flying has never scared me because I started when I was so little. It was always very natural and I didn’t think anything of it. Choosing a seat is an interesting process. Noone usually wants to sit in the middle because you have nothing to rest your head against as you do on the window seat nor do you have extra leg room or ease of not having to bother other people to go to the bathroom as you do in the aisle seat. The window seat has another benefit of a great view, but then you have to bother two people to do your business. Growing up, I always wanted the window seat. I slept pretty much the whole flight, even when it was a long one to Korea (my mom says I used to sleep through meals so she’d try to wake me up because she thought I needed food). I loved looking out the window, especially during takeoff and landing. As I got older, I decided that the aisle seat was the best seat because I hated inconveniencing people, especially when they were sleeping or had drinks/food trays on their tray table. The worst is when you really have to go but everyone has trays and there is no good place to put your tray to fold up the tray table to get out! Granted, the best situation is when you get 1-2 seats in addition to your own. With an entire half row to yourself, I can curl up into a ball and sleep lying down. With 2 seats, you can share the middle seat with the other person, giving more elbow room and perhaps a place to rest your feet.

On this trip, I’ve had the pleasure of sitting at the window seat from NYC to Miami and Miami to Quito (dear Jess suffered the middle seat, though we will switch on the way back). I feel like I have been on a plane forever, as Monday morning I flew to DC and then back on Tuesday to fly out on Thursday and get delay after delay and then missed flight and then delay to still be flying on Friday! I’ve discovered the difficulty of taking photographs from an airplane window. Many of them are dirty, but beyond that, I seem to have extreme difficulty getting the photographs to not appear washed out. Of course there is always photoshop, but is there a trick? Perhaps I should use a smaller aperature… I’ve taken a liking to taking photographs of clouds from the ground, so naturally, I started taking pictures of clouds from the sky. Clouds are like snowflakes, none seem to be exactly the same. My favorites are those big fluffy clouds that seem like big comfortable down quilts or pillows. I just want to jump into them and be enveloped into heavenly goodness. Too bad that if I were actually to jump, I would end up permanently enveloped by wood and dirt. Right now, there is a full moon right outside my window which shines down on the clouds, slightly illuminating them. You can barely discern the clouds, it is like a sea of waves or whipped cream. The contours create shadows that make them more visible. Lightening strikes in the distance occasionally lighting up the entire sky. Seeing the lightening from above is brilliant. It is like seeing heaven when you see the lightening from the level at which it originates. The contrast between the part of the sky with lightening and the part that does not is striking. You are seeing two worlds at once. As the clouds change, it turns into a mountain of snow. When you see the wispier clouds, you can see the land below it. Right now we must be above water or jungle because there are no lights. Occasionalyl you see a small strip of light or even just one dot of light below. Such a contrast between flying over America. We must be flying over Central America right now. It has been about 2.5 hours in our 3.5 hour flight, so we are probably flying near Costa Rica at the moment.

Whenever I try to photograph the moon, it comes out extremely small, like a dot in the sky. I wonder about the moon. It lights up because of the reflection of the sunlight not because the moon itself shines… but if the sun is hitting the moon, wouldn’t the entire sky light up? For example, if you took a flashlight and shined it on a ball in a dark room, not only would the ball light up, but so too would the path of the light itself… I probably learned about this at one point… but I completely forget.

Behind us in line getting on the plane, Jess and I saw a few people wearing collared shirts that said something about global health. I asked what they were, and apparently they are part of a mission trip with about 25 doctors, dentists, and pharmacists to Ecuador to work with the Quichua community! They are going for one week and it is a mission trip by the Christian Association for Medical Professionals or something like that. The woman I was talking to also had her daughter with her who is in her 4th year at dental school. The woman, however, did not seem to know anything about the Quichua and wasn’t sure how to pronounce the name. I suppose if you are going to a community for one week and just treating them as quickly as you can and doing routine things you don’t really need to know too much about the community. However, I think it is almost a sign of respect. Besides being fun to learn about other cultures, it makes you think of the group more at your level. It is so dangerous to think of the developing world as a group of people that we need to help and save. I had a job interview recently and as my resume is filled with international development interest, they wanted to clarify that I would not get to do international development work. I was a little confused because a lot fo the work they were doing was international and looking at global collaboration. I mentioned that international development to me was not foreign charity and blind aid, but rather cocreation and co-development. My interviewer then agreed that I would be doing some international development work. We talked about how the term and topic “international development” has turned so much to the idea of charity and giving. It sounds so great, but when a group does not have to work for something, they end up taking it more for granted and can end up relying on it. This becomes dangerous especially with political instability where it is not unheard of for political tension to cause a ngo to withdraw from a country. In addition, lack of co-creation means lack of culturally-appropriate development. What works in the US may not work well in a different country. In fact, it most probably will not. With medicine, it is a little different as for many diseases, the treatment is the same. However, you do have to consider the community’s own medical practices as well as any stigmas or beliefs against western medicine. In addition, it s great that medical professionals donate their time to go to developing countries for a week or for maybe even a month, but without a healthcare system developing within the country, they will always rely on foreign aid. There are so many different issues and problems tied around each other. You can’t solve one problem without working on another.

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