We arrive in Houston at close to midnight and Dr. Manuel Avila greets us at the Quito airport. He is the director of Santa Ines Hospital in Cuenca and has been the True North Missions Society contact for this mission since the charity’s first trip to Ecuador (and previously as well, for two missions when Dr. Powell and a core team visited Cuenca before the formation of this charity).
Just as we are imagining the comfort of a bed at a nearby hotel, Quito customs officers become inquisitive about our 32 hockey bags and 13 totes…thank goodness for our lovely Dr. Aspe Ayer as she fluently explains our purpose (in Spanish) and produces documentation supporting the mission. Thankfully, we are given the go ahead to continue on! It would have been a lengthy task searching through those bags. Then, after some concern over a potentially lost tote, we realize it is in our collection after all – we are all very impressed with Gail Evans’ superior organization of the carefully weighed, labelled and ‘assigned’ cargo. She supplied us each with a laminated list of the contents of ‘our’ hockey bag/tote, as well as labelling each bag with our name and a corresponding number. This is extremely helpful each time we collect and move our bags through customs. Gail keeps us all in the know and is a really good ‘mom’.
Dr. Avila has arranged for truck transport of all the medical equipment/supplies to Cuenca by road throughout the night and he stays the night with the team at a nearby hotel in order to escort us to Cuenca by airplane in the morning.