Monday, July 4, 2016

How circumstances paint a picture of Ecuador

The water is off here in Cuenca this early Monday morning, but no dogs are barking outside and it´s not cold inside the apartment. It´s a good time to write a story.
I´ve become a known entity around here in the San Sebastian neighborhood in which I live. The female owner at the market I frequent most often recognizes me also when passing by out on the street. I´m acquainted with two neighbors across the street who wave and greet me when we see each other outside. The fellow who owns the local CD movie sales shop is selling his business, but it´s pleasant to buy movies from him because he tries hard to accommodate with suggestions and he´ll readily order a movie I want he doesn´t have in stock.       

Last night I walked to the river to get a break from a lot of thought clamboring about my head. I watched the water rushing within its banks and listened to sound created by its washing over the rocks. I was alone, feeling a certain comfort that could be represented by the river passing below in its travel to an unknown destination.
The seed of myself I planted in Ecuador nine months ago has grown roots that now tie me to the ground, and shallow though they maybe---I´m not going anywhere else soon.
I am discovering South America and its land and people and it´s turning out to be the greatest lesson of discovery I´ve ever had in my life. I´m learning there are other ways to look at the world. I´m learning that other societies can be different not just in superficial ways but in fundamental ways. And that´s turning out to be okay with me. I´m game. I´m also learning what it means to be from the United States and that´s okay too. It isn´t learning by reading a text book, it´s experiential learning and it´s slowly changing the way I am.

The other day I was kneeling on Simon Bolivar Street to tie the loose shoelaces on one of my shoes. As I struggled to get up a woman offered to me her hand. I refused the help. I have a mentality that values self-reliance, while she exhibited a trait home to a mentality that values mutual assistance.     

While I´m not here to complain, that doesn´t mean I have no complaints. When I find an Ecuadorian shop or an Ecuadorian worker who takes pride in their quality of work, I make note of it. I don´t assume everybody does good work anymore because I´ve lived here long enough to know better than that by now.

But last month I also attended a concert performed by the orchestra of the University of Cuenca and attest the quality of its presentation of classical music was on a par equal to the best I´ve enjoyed anywhere, anytime.