The composting toilet is adorable; all cheery plastic curves in a bright Smurf blue. It seems to belong in a playhouse. Outside, roosters strut and crow, pigs snort and snuffle in their cinderblock pens, and a gaggle of children race around the countryside east of Guayaquil, Ecuador’s biggest city. The late afternoon is swollen with heat, but the outhouse itself is shady and cool, miraculously free of any stink — the stench of a Honey Bucket at a construction site, of a grotty urinal at a dive bar, or even the flush toilet frequented by my four-year-old twin boys. Read more>>
As the sky lightens from pink to blue in this gritty oil boomtown on the border with Colombia, vendors at the local campesino market set up baskets of pan de wawa, platters of fresh cheese, and heaps of mangos and bananas.
The waste-pickers are close behind, pedaling squeaky metal carts through the rutted streets. They’re among Ecuador’s poorest and most vulnerable: refugees from Colombia, victims of domestic violence, the illiterate, those suffering from mental illness. Read more>>
The waiting room in Ecuador’s Enrique Sotomayor hospital has the feel of a Department of Motor Vehicles: chimes going off every minute to summon the next patient in line, benches crammed with pregnant women and their families, and peeling paint under fluorescent lights.
The noisy hallways in the largest maternity hospital in South America lead past a courtyard where a Virgin Mary statue presides, past a nursery with wall-to-wall bassinets, past a room the size of a gymnasium outfitted with beds for new mothers, and to a dingy pharmacy that offers a simple yet innovative treatment: a single-serving dose of antiretroviral medication for newborns. Read more>>