While Joe and I were sitting at the bank in Portoviejo on Friday we saw an article about the growing number of deaths attributed to AH 1 N1 (swine flu virus) in some Central and South American countries.
As of Friday, Officials had confirmed six deaths so far in Ecuador and believe that one local death may have been from the virus spread through a local Catholic Church. The Church has changed their procedure in giving communion and even with shaking hands so as not to spread this disease further. It has hit Columbia, Peru, Costa Rica and now Ecuador. Peru is cancelling some of their Festivals and some other areas of Ecuador are requiring face masks to enter health facilities.
An Update: From Today’s Portoviejo Newspaper, El Diario: On Monday afternoon, the website of the Ministry of Health (MOH) reported that, until Monday July 29, there have been 137 hit by the H1N1 flu virus, “of which 11 died.” As reported by the newspaper El Universo, the deaths are in seven provinces in the country: Pichincha, Tungurahua, Azuay, Manabi, Napo and Pastaza Rivers. One death is in Portoviejo, near us and another in Guayaquil to the south. In some of the areas, notably around Quito, visits to hospitals is being restricted and face masks are being worn.
Friday morning Joe and I needed to go to Charapoto to the CNEL office. Seems that our electric meter has not been registering the power usage for the past few months. I did not think anything of the first bill I paid which was $5.79 but then the next was $5 and this past month it was $5.02….We don’t use a great deal of electricity but $5 is way too low. So I put together a letter. Here, everything you do, every place you go requires a letter so I made the letter including the meter number, our electric bill number, my cedula number, name, address and gave copies of the first three pages of our deed, copy of the electric bill when we closed on the house, copy of my cedula and censo and a photo of the meter itself. Everything seems to be okay and they will be sending someone out to check the meter. When I don’t know, but I would assume within the next week. We will see. But that is not why I am writing this.
While in Charapoto walking away from the CNEL office I looked up the street but did not know what I was looking at. So I stopped a few women and asked them. It was a gruta or grotto in English where the patron saint of Charapoto, Santa Gema is displayed. Joe and I walked up the hill and took these pictures. Maria Gemma Umberta Pia Galgani was an Italian mystic, venerated as a saint in the Roman Catholic Church since 1940. She has been called the “Daughter of Passion” because of her profound imitation of the Passion of Christ. Wikipedia
Then we continued our walk towards the church that is on the street that holds the public mercado on Saturday and Sundays. Very seldom do we find a church open during the week. Our experience is that the church doors are closed and locked until Sunday and only open for Mass times. Patricia told me that the priest who has his residence in Charapoto, next to the church is the one priest for this entire area. This answers the question of why church doors are not open, there is no one their to open and close the doors each day. Sad when we were kids each church had it own priest sometimes two, today they are closing Catholic Churches all the time for lack of priest and lack of parishioners. It was special to be able to visit this beautiful church.
This is a beautiful church, very well maintained and I was so happy to find it open for our visit. What a great day!