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Published: January 12th 2020
Last night after a very late lunch (because the dogs ran away and they had a faucet leak! A bit crazy), Fernando took us to the more historical part of the city. During the drive, he talked pretty much the whole time about the city's history and about the different historical sites we drove by. We got to see El Panecillo, which has fantastic lighting at night and offers fantastic views of Quito. The base of the statue is a museum also, which shows the largest churches in the historical district and also the construction process of the statue. Matt and I had a great time taking photos and listening to Fernando, who always seems to have something to say.
It was very interesting to relate with Fernando during this outing. While he was talking, I didn't pick up on everything he said, but I understood a few general themes that were interesting socially. The first theme I noticed, was that as he talked about the history of Ecuador, he often identified with the indigenous people, especially on topics of religion. In the old town, the Spaniards built catholic churches over top of the indigenous temples of the sun and
moon, and when Fernando would talk events like this one, he would identify with the native people and not with the Spanish people. I think this might be more likely because he identifies with an independent Ecuador, and Spain symbolizes the opposite of this. I don't know if this is a common sentiment, but it's certainly an interesting result of their history.
Secondly, Fernando pointed out that a lot of money has moved to the more northern, commercialized side of the industry, and away from some of the more southern areas we were driving through. He wasn't super sad about this move, and I think he recognized that the movement of money is inevitable. From conversation today, I can tell that he's grateful when the government looks after the lower class, but I think that he doesn't feel like he can make an impact on issues like this, especially being an older, retired man. The poverty in the city is definitely accepted and there aren't necessarily negative opinions of the lower economic class from what I have observed. Based on the recent history he has mentioned along with the readings we did before the trip, there has probably been a lot of change in the last 20 years or so because of the new president and the introduction of the US dollar into their economy.
The other big theme that I picked up on during the conversation is that Fernando has a lot of national pride. This isn't surprising based on his military background, but the way he talks about the culture and natural richness of the environment here, he's just so filled with pride about the country as a whole. He's not prideful in the same way that I see Americans being. I think it's just a strong reverence for Ecuadorian culture and a gratefulness that he gets to enjoy such a beautiful slice of the world.
Because Quito is changing so much so quickly, I think that the people don't feel like they have a lot of impact on the direction of the economy and other political matters. They definitely care, and have a lot of national pride (or at least Fernando does) and I'm glad that this is true, but I think they would feel better about their country if they had a little more control and a little bit more sure in their future. I guess that Ecuador's culture is a bit more flexible, so maybe it's absolutely fine. It will be interesting to hear more about these things throughout the trip.
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