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In Quito, Ecuador Stephen learns about The Smile Train, an organization that helps children born with Cleft Palate.

Daily food & travel inspiration in your inbox

Daily food & travel inspiration in your inbox

Transcript

- [Stephen] If you had a choice to pack up all your things and paint a picture of the world we live in, what would you do? You ask yourself, what do I have to lose? ♪ Baby let me follow you down ♪ ♪ Follow you down ♪ ♪ I'm all in pieces just waiting for you to come 'round ♪ ♪ Round ♪ ♪ To sing you this song ♪ ♪ Baby let me sing you this song ♪ ♪ And cigarettes and hard fingertips ♪ ♪ Are what I've sacrificed to lend you this ♪ ♪ Song ♪ - [Stephen] We find ourselves living on this planet we call home, yet we are so disconnected from it all, we feel like complete strangers. The pursuit of happiness, the pursuit of love, the pursuit of adventure and the pursuit of freedom. My name is Stephen Friedman and this is the story of Chasing the Sun. - [Laszlo] Tourism is paramount to Ecuador. I mean the economy, the overall theme, the overall model of a dollarized economy depends on fresh income of currency and where can we find U.S. dollars? We can't print them, right? So tourism by the fact of travelers coming and spending their money here, brings into the economy a fresh flow, a healthy fresh flow of currency that makes the economy to work and that is why tourism is the number one thing for the government right now. - We're in the capital of Ecuador, the city of Quito. It's beautiful actually, like if you just look how it's developed. This is old town and it's very, very old and just on the outskirts, as far as the eye can see, it just the development that's just grown from like old school to like, modern. - Well, Quito, firstly has the oldest and best preserved and bigger historic center in America, from Alaska to Patagonia. My name is Laszlo Karolyi and we are in Quito, Ecuador and my boutique hotel is Cafe Cultura. - So I'm staying at this awesome place called Cafe Cultura and it's also very simple in the sense that technology isn't really present, like there's no TVs, there's just books everywhere and wherever you look, there's just so many cool things to see visually, and at the same time, there's so many guests staying there that you actually communicate, you talk, you share stories and yeah, it's actually a really unique place to stay, and it's awesome. The best part about staying at a place like Cafe Cultura is that you get to meet people like Laszlo. It feels like you're staying at a friend's house, a friend with a very cool house. - I met my wife here in Cafe Cultura. She came on a Sunday for breakfast and it was love at first sight and we were married for 12 years. Cafe and Culture, Coffee Culture, or Cafe Cultura, the two words are the most international of the words. They are the same in every language and you know, in the industrial revolution, people began to drink more coffee and then the revolution happened, so sociologists say today we sit around the coffee table, we talk, we fall in love, we talk about politics and so on, so that's what it is, Cafe Cultura. We have people from all over the world coming around this place of us, and then they do that, they talk about their life, they fall in love, in and out of love, and so on, and it's the perfect place for travelers, and the perfect place to experience Ecuador really. We were searching for a person to do the art and walls, so to blend with the Quito School of Art into the daily life of the traveler, the people that stay with us, so we search and we brief several people and then we found this young guy in the school of arts in Cuenca, and we pretty much sponsor his career and he became now among the 16 best painters in Ecuador, big names including Guayasamin, Tabara, and Endara Crow, and others, of course. He's number 12 now. So then that tells a lot of how long relationships can go in Cafe Cultura. He's been working with us for more than 20 years doing these murals and so on. You know, they are collecting metal. They go around, recycle, metal recycling. No one works here for a short time. My chef has been here 20 years, the drivers more than 25 years, the receptionist that works here 10, 15 years ago, now they are managers and like this, so it's a family, really. We work and function as a family, and the concept is that every personal problems are equal, so they are equally important, you see, so then everybody has to do their job equally including myself. I can clean a room or make this interview and they can do the same. That's the concept of Cafe Cultura. Everybody's equally important, it's a flat company, yes. Tiny little place, but very unique. ♪ It's been so long since you come my way ♪ - [Laszlo] You can see the city, how beautiful it is, I mean, geographically speaking, it's breathtaking. And the weather, second to none. You see, we have 25 Celsius across, the year across, and then, I don't know, blue skies every day. I mean, this is the weather we have. ♪ This is just the start ♪ ♪ Walk anywhere but don't be late ♪ - I heard about Smile Train, and it's this organization that basically helps families that can't afford cleft palate surgery for their children. I heard about it that they have it in Quito. Yeah, I just wanted to kind of get involved as just to see how the people are living, how the families cope with their children and the whole procedure, really, and it was very eye opening. It was humbling, it was sad, it was happy, like, every single emotion that you can go through, I went through. ♪ Day you called the sun was big and low to the ground ♪ ♪ The cold had froze my fingers tight ♪ ♪ Time was still and I was lost from sight ♪ ♪ For a while ♪ - So I went up with a Smile Train crew to a little area called Cayambe. It's a very, very small town. It's primary focus in that area is to grow flowers and what I found quite fascinating in that area, one out of five kids are born with cleft palates. That's a very large number of children born with cleft palates, especially just for one area so that was kind of, I was blown away by that fact. ♪ Every picture made ♪ ♪ And every song I played is tattooed on my skin forever ♪ ♪ You ain't ever gonna feel love ♪ ♪ You'll never feel the way this hurts ♪ ♪ 'Cause all the memories that we dreamed of ♪ ♪ All the memories that we dreamed of now ♪ ♪ Have all been washed away ♪ ♪ Now it's me that walks alone ♪ ♪ On shiny ice that breaks to the core ♪ ♪ You had my soul felt it taking hold ♪ ♪ You had my soul God only knows ♪ ♪ Now have all been washed away ♪ - This idea just began about 14 years ago when I was president of the plastic surgeon's society and we think that we have to help all the poor people that has this problems of this kind of problems and the idea was a big group of plastic surgeons from Quito just we found this little hospital and the idea principally is just to help the poor people. That's it. ♪ Now have all been washed away ♪ ♪ Do you ever want to feel love ♪ - My name is Doctor Pablo Davistos. I'm from Quito, Ecuador. These patients that being seen in this hospital don't pay nothing. They are just free in everything. That's one of the important ways that all the populations of these patients has, they know that he is not any kind of fee, anything. There's a camp, they have a lot of love, they have love warm hearts, and that's the way they're going to just live very happy. - It's better to breed it filled first with the milk of the mother. The mother takes out his milk, that's the best milk they have. If Doctor Maldonado sees they then that need some more another kind of milk just to get use any kind of milk, so it's okay. They feed them like that. - The important way is that the kid is going to have his weight normal. It goes growing, and the nipple, we no use a normal nipple, because if you use a normal nipple, the cleft of the palate's going to be open. We just want that the tongue just make the pressure, normal pressure in the palate, and that's it. We have left breast with that nipple just a little tiny nipple, like to be like a little cat that's going feeding with his tongue, and that's better. The kid is not going to be tired and the mother feed. It's just eat very fast, that's make he's not tired, eat faster and his bones with his weight is going to be upper until the age is normally his age. That elastic makes that the bones of the face are very softened as childs, and usual, they born just like that. The pressure of the elastic of this hat just pull the bones very fast, just about one month, and just make it like this, and that will be more easy and best results of the surgery in the first step. You cannot do that if you no see the patients one month before and that's why is our interest is that we bring to the patient here at a short age is better and then you will make this elastic adjust with bulge goes down, be in the place that you make the surgery of the soft tissue is the lip, and then the muscles that you have right here, you make it all like around the way all this kind of muscles and that will push down and that will be a better result and his face will be many years later. - It is an obligation of the persons that we can do something or the poor people is very important to just give if we have the ability. We have the place, we have the reserves for just make a surgery. We cannot poor people cannot pay this, it is very important. This kind of surgeries in the whole, whole world has to be free. - We came from the capital, Quito, and now we're in Montanita. It's literally two contrasts, black and white from city life, old school, to literally, Never-land, paradise, it's no man's land, and people are like oblivious to what's actually happening outside of this little town. - Montanita is a really crazy town. And I think you've gotta be kind of focused because it's really, really easy to get lost in here. It's a very good point to backpackers like me, make easy money and keep traveling, but I see you have a lot of easy pleasures so you can get lost so fast and quickly. I'm Barbra, and I'm from Argentina. I don't really care about parties. I'm just in here trying to discover places, meeting great people, having a good time, but in my way. I think that I want that all this year for me, ocean, beach, all this year. I don't want to get cold in any place. So I'm just keeping on the coast, because I really, really like ocean. I don't have ocean really near my home, so I need it, because I really, really like it. - [Stephen] There is no right or wrong with things like this, it's just like what do you want to do with your life? Where do you want to be? What do you want to be? I think it's almost time for me to leave Never-land, and kind of like, grow up in a way that I want to do it. I don't want to be dictated by certain people, certain elements. It's more like what I want to be when I grow up and if I can make a difference, if I can make a change, how will I do that? Well, I guess that I'm still trying to figure out, but at least I know the direction I want to go in and yeah, just take it from there. If I can make one person smile every single day, that's great.