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We survived Quito! Bus rides, ziplines, bug bites, altitude sickness, questionable food, long days. We tried new fruits, hiked volcanoes, danced salsa, trekked through waterfalls, swam in the Pacific, and fell in love (again, in my case) with Ecuador.

Work was challenging but also rewarding. My group led a series diabetes management workshops for patients in the south of the city, where the poorest and most medically disenfranchised populations live. Plans were honored only loosely as improvisation reigned when patients showed up late (or not at all), workshop dates were delayed or deleted, and research goals went unattained despite our hard work. Yet simply spending time with patients who deeply appreciated our presence made everything worth it. Dancing cumbia with the 60+ group, listening to the difficulties of living with diabetes, building “health plates” in our workshops. The final lesson stands clear: global health will never be an easy practice, but it will always be meaningful and necessary because it focuses medical practice on the patients who are in greatest need of our assistance.

Hundreds of different experiences packed into one small country, just like the hundreds of little seeds packed into delicious (and diabetes-fighting) granadillas and maracuya.