Relfections on Ecuador

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South America » Ecuador
July 8th 2006
Published: July 8th 2006
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Market dayMarket dayMarket day

chickens are thrown in the back of the truck with the rest of the good bought
Well since i´ve been here almost 3 weeks, i thought i´d share some of my reflections on South America, namely Ecuador. Quite a different world down here, so i thought i´d give everyone back home a little taste of it:

-TP and hot showers are like gold here. They have one dispenser for toilet paper for all the stalls, or none at all. Showers are mostly electric with no controls for the water. Hot water is a luxury, not a usual occurance.

-They have super cool keys on the computer keyboard like, ñ, ¿, Ç , and all the punctuation marks are in different places (took me a week to find the ?)
To make the @, you have to type alt and 64

-No one has heard of wheat products or vegetables here. We tried to ask a guide about brown rice, and he didn´t even know the word for it!!! All they eat are carbs- white rice, potatoes, plantains and white bread- every meal. Street vendors sell hoards of bread, soda and chips. Try finding non-meat based protein here, i dare ya!

-Buses and shops don´t like any currency over a $5 bill (Ecuador uses
Street vendor at the bus stopStreet vendor at the bus stopStreet vendor at the bus stop

selling various forms of SUGAR
the US dollar)
but they do have super cool coins- a 50 cent pice twice the size of our quarter, and a gold colored dollar coin. (The cents are called Centavos.) So you are constantly carrying a heavy pocket full of change.

-Airlines feed you a full meal even on an hour flight, and everyone cheers when the plane lands.

-No one works when soccer is on. I mean no one. Not even airline personel checking bags! You can walk down the street and hear the game in stereo. Businesses are either closed, or have a tv with the game on . on days that Ecuador plays, about 50 % of the people wear soccer jerseys

-Shops close everyday from 12 pm to 3 pm for siesta

-Ecuador time is ´Mas o Menos´ (more or less)

-Sea lions are totally playful

-Ecuadorians seem friendly, honest and eager to help

-A little Spanish goes a very long way

-A screaming baby is annoying in any language

-Indegenous people have missing teeth and leathery, wrinkly skin

-Taxis in the galapagos are white pick up trucks, and you ride in the back

-Animals are treated like equipment in Ecuador. the atrocities i´ve seen being perpetrated on animals in this country is obscene. Chickens carried in fistfuls, dangling upside down, alive and writhing, kittens, dogs and chickens carried in burlap sacks with their heads poked through, or not , pigs´skin blow torched off by the side of the road, horses whipped, llama, horses, sheep, cattle and pigs tied up all day with only 4 feet of rope, no shade and no water (EVERYone does this) or stuffed together in a very small pen, and the worst- a family waiting to catch the bus with their sheep. The bus operator grabbed the sheep by the rope around their neck, and hoisted them up a ladder to the roof of the bus where they rode until the family got off (i couldn´t watch that- made me cry).

-People throw their trash out the car or bus window or on the street

-Buses... man, this one could easily be a whole blog. Buses are stick shifts and range from really nice greyhound ish buses with cushy seats and a wide screen movie screen, to really old half broken down buses. There are tons of
Bus operator hanging out the doorBus operator hanging out the doorBus operator hanging out the door

downtown oldtown quito
buses in the cities, and often in the rural areas, buses are the only means of transportation for the people an their goods and animals. (no, i´m not kidding- llamas, goats, sheep, ride on top of the bus). Unfortunately, they conk out huge bursts of ugly thick black smoke as they run through town.

Every bus has a driver and an operator guy who dangles out the door while the bus is moving, shouting the name of where the bus is going to everyone as the bus goes by. Often he shouts the city and then Émbarco, embarco, embarco.´, which i think means something akin to “aboard” , sounding like an auctioneer. He´ll jump out when the bus is moving slowly through a crowded area or a bus stop and try to hustle up business. I haven´t figured this one out yet. I mean, if you know where you´re going, what is someone yelling the name of another city going to do. ´hmm.. let´s see, i was going to quito, but oh, that place sounds so much better. I think i´ll go there.´ honestly, they must get paid on commission.

And then there are the vendors- anytime the bus stops, several people get on selling things. And often, it´s kids. Sometimes they are selling candy, cds, homemade food, ice cream, etc. often someone will get on and start handing a slip of paper, a CD or advertisement to everyone on the bus. Then the person will stand up at the front, give some kindof sales pitch, and then go and collect all the stuff they handed out. Ecuadorians just humor them but taking the token and holding onto it until the person wants it back. Sometimes up to 10 people will get on the bus, trying to sell stuff. Sometimes they´ll jump off when the bus starts moving. Often they will ride until the next stop. Crazy!!! And oh yeah, buses rarely ´stop´ unless the operator has to help with bags. Often they just slow down and people jump on or off.

Rarely do you buy a bus ticket at a terminal, altho sometimes. When you do leave from a terminal, the bus is often mostly empty. And the reason is that buses will pick up anyone, anywhere. So as you are trying to leave town, the bus stops every 500 ft to pick up or drop off other people. Money is paid to the operator after you´re on the bus a bit or right as you get off. When people want to get off, they say ´gracias´(thank you), and then the bus driver stops- anywhere. The operator guy is the hardest working one on the bus. Not only does he hustle people on, he collects the money and also loads bags, or farm animals on the bus (as the case may be) as people get on or off. If the bus has mechanical problems, him and the driver get out and fix it. On one bus ride, the driver and operator guys got out and crawled under the bus to get to the root of a problem!

Stay tuned for my jungle blog- Attack of the Creepy Crawlies!!!


8th July 2006

Wow, public trans!!
You could be describing public transit here in the 'hood. They stop every 500 feet, fart out black smoke, vary from really nice to really broke-down, and depending on where you are, kids or adults try to sell you stuff. So apparently, all we need are some operators yelling destinations (which in some cases would be welcome!) and/or some llamas. (Do you remember the letter I sent you a looooong time ago, when I discovered the Dingbats font and sent you an entire letter full of cats and squiggles? That was what your keyboard comment made me think of.) So are you a soccer fan yet?
8th July 2006

Book in progress-
Tan- If you keep up this good work you will have written an interesting book by the time you get back to the USA. Start looking for a publisher that will pay you a deposit for the rights to your book! Stay safe-- Love, Dad
10th July 2006

Tan...thanks for sharing your AMAZING trip! Look forward to the next account. Take care and stay safe! Above all, have FUN!!
13th July 2006

really happy for you
I don't get much time on the computer but I'm glad I had some to catch up with you! It sounds like your trip has been quite an experience (much different from everyday life of a mom of 2 in Staunton, IL) No wonder you hated teaching! This is what life is all about-following your dreams. Mia reminds me of KK and Jezzabell. Even though I would never have the guts to take on such an adventure, we still sure have a lot in common. It must be the Virgo thing. Enjoy and be safe! Jen

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