Sunday, June 11, 2017
The Ecuador Journals #4
I had just hit my toe on a rock while trying to say hello to some kids on the street. Note to Self: Look where you’re going. As I sat at the bus stop trying to stop the bleeding, an older man walked up to me find out if I was okay. “Are you alright?, what happened?” he asked in rapid Spanish. “I’m okay”, I replied, too concerned with the pain to say much else; but he didn’t leave. “Are you sure you don’t need a doctor?”. “No, it’s okay, I’m on my way home now”. He looked down at my toe which was wrapped in my bandana and back up at my face. His eyes seemed to ask again if I was okay. I gave another smile, nodded and said thank you. At this, he said “take care” and turned to walk back down the street.
If no one has done this already, I’m going to take it upon myself to name Ecuador the country of love. I’m not just talking about romantic love -there’s a lot of that here; if only I had a $5 for every couple I saw kissing on the street.- but genuine care and affection.
I feel the love in this country like nowhere else I’ve been before. Most people I’ve met are nice, friendly and always willing to help. There’s a culture of warmth here that completely resonates with me. I can’t help but smile when I walk into a store and the salesperson addresses me as “vecin” meaning neighbor or “hija” meaning child or -my favorite- “amor” which means love.
For some people, this might be strange or uncomfortable, but for me, the endearment almost always elicits a smile. When it comes to greeting, a simple kiss on the cheek is the norm when you meet someone, and when you’re saying goodbye; whether you know them or not. There’s something about the small displays of affection that allow me to relax and feel welcome in a place that’s several hundred miles away from home. Sometimes it’s these little things that make all the difference.
Speaking of little things, one of my favorite things to see here is love notes. They are everywhere from street walls to bus seats. I call them love notes, and I’ve been compiling photos of them from different locations here in Ecuador. I find the one line declarations on the street walls incredibly cute.
In a world where it seems like hurt and hatred are around every bend, it’s easy to feel isolated and disheartened. Living in Ecuador has been a constant reminder to me that love is not lost, and sometimes a little bit of kindness is just what we need.
Highlights of the Week
The hike up to La Cruz del Ilaló. A few of us reached the top of Ilaló mountain, at 10,100 feet above sea level. For an unseasoned climber like myself, it was arduous. At many points, I was sure I would faint, but I was determined to complete it. I reached the summit of a mountain. My future kids had better think I’m cool.
Visiting Fundación Guayasamín. On another trip to Quito, we went on a tour of Oswaldo Guayasamín’s home. The famous Ecuadorian painter asked for his house to be converted to an art museum after his death. His paintings, some of which I included here are some of the most beautiful works I’ve ever seen. I have never been moved by art the way I was by these pieces. Photos were not allowed inside his home, unfortunately.
Boiled wine. It probably sounds strange to you but this drink was delicious. I tasted some at a traditional Ecuadorian restaurant called Chulla Quiteño in Quito. Does anyone know if places in the U.S serve boiled wine?
thank you for reading.
All photos shot on iPhone 6S+
Same footprints, different sands