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Published: January 12th 2020
Hello from Ecuador! This is my 2nd full day here. While it has only been a few days, I have observed and learned so much about this culture and its norms. So far, I have been able to communicate fairly well with my host mama. She is very kind and patient with the language barrier, and I am very blessed to be staying in a wonderful home. This area of Ecuador has a very collectivist culture, where they place much emphasis on group goals, spending quality time, and caring for each relationship that is present in one's life (Livermore, 102). As I have spent time with my mama, I have gotten to know more about the social issues within this country, and they were quite surprising to me.
My mama explained to me that she had to sell her car about 5 years ago, as she felt she was no longer safe to drive it. This is because Ecuador has become heavily populated over the last few years. Therefore, with more people, there is more of a need for transportation. All one has to do is glance outside the window to see how busy streets in Quito are. There is
a wide array of cars, buses, taxis, and vans just about all times of the day. While this is normal for a large city in the US, Quito is small compared to the number of transportation vehicles on the streets. My mama felt like she could not drive without hitting someone, or being hit. She explained that the over-transportation within the city has been a fairly recent development. This has made the streets enormously busy. I am still not completely comfortable walking the streets, as i am quite hesitant to cross the road, and am worried that I will be hit. However, as we have learned, confidence is key to navigating my way through the city. Even if I am not confident, I can look as if I am so that I do not attract any unwanted attention on the streets. In the cultural intelligence book, there is a section that explains that we ought to adapt to cultures, however, not adapt too much or in times that are inappropriate (Livermore, 178). We also learned about this in an orientation session. It is important to be aware and confident so that you do not become too "comfortable" with the culture, and end up being robbed, hurt, or getting lost. On the streets, I come across confident, however, inside, I am being very aware of my surroundings and being careful of those around me when navigating the city.
Along with the social issue of heavy transportation problems in the city, there have been quite a few recent protests. Transportation was cut off from Quito to Baños, and individuals were forced to stay in the airport for a time. My mama explained to me that the president recently reduced fuel subsidies. This has caused grief for the individuals providing transportation, as they pay for gas out of pocket. Gas prices are expected to increase, and the union of transportation drivers have been very upset with this. They have started protests that have caused disruption in many areas. My mama is upset over this transportation issue that is growing with population. I can see why she feels it is not safe to drive. Coming from America, the streets do look chaotic. However, this is normal here, at least for the most part. It is obvious that this heavy transportation and fuel subsidy problem is beginning to affect Ecuador. It will be interesting to see how Ecuador evolves over the next few years- maybe it will continue to increase in population, which will inevitably increase frustration with the heavy transportation system. As a collectivist country, Ecuador strives to be unified in their culture, however, with this recent development, it seems as though some individuals may choose to take a more individualistic perspective in regards to choosing how they navigate the city and stand up to the government (Livermore, 178). Attached are a few pictures of the city, and also some random shots of a local park! It has been a beautiful first few days with fruitful conversation and exploration. I am looking forward to the weeks to come! Thanks for reading!
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