Partly because one of Grace Chapel's missionaries - Stateside for the moment - asked me to, and partly for my - and your benefit, here's a rundown on what I've observed about the Ecuadorian people.
Mexicans are well known for their machismo - macho ways - and have an intense amount of pride. Ecuadorians too have their pride. . . they just don't make as big a show of it. My friend Oscar put it this way: "The Ecuadorians usually say that they're pretty good. They're respectful and humble, and don't say crazy things like 'oh, that was fantastic!' like people in the United States might say. They're content with 'pretty good.'"
Ecuadorians are generally honest to a fault. . . we've witnessed that enough to know and appreciate that quality. That said, behind your back, if they can get away with it, they will steal from you. . . petty theft. We lost a large thick tan bath towel from the clothesline - a feature of life seen all through Ecuador - at the Hotel Pichincha that way. I told Carolyn Anne it's a lesson learned. . . better lose a bath towel than some electronic gear we have, like our laptop or camera. By the way, the new camera we got from Fry's Electronics in Burbank is all set up and working well. We're taking photos now, and hope to load them into the blog when we get home to California.
94 per cent of the people are (nominally) Roman Catholic. When I discuss with a chofer in my taxi or a stroller in Parque Calderon what church they attend, they often shrug it off with "I have God in my heart." My Spanish is not yet that practiced to discuss further this kind of sensitive and very important issue. I'll have to get better at it in the very near future. However, I can give from memory John 14:6 - translated into Spanish, of course! Here in the El Centro district of Cuenca, there's literally a Roman Catholic Church on every block or two. We hear the bells ring in the morning at 5:40, 6:00, 6:45, and 7:30 for their prayer times. Every morning without fail. Attendance is not great, but they are faithful in the bell ringing sin embargo. . . nevertheless.
Time is not a big thing with the Ecuadorians. They are generally on time for meetings and business matters, but when it comes to almuerzo - lunch - all bets are off. No signs to let you know of closed business generally, and when an employee wants to take a popsicle break, you just have to have patience and wait for them to be done with their break. This happened with the autobus compania - bus company - representative at Terminal Terrestial - the bus terminal yesterday. We waited about 20 minutes while she had her break, then got our questions answered. The Manana syndrome is alive and well in Latin America.
Latin Americans can be a noisy bunch, and Ecuadorians are no exception. We're finishing up our longest stay at one address in the very nice custom vacation studio loft condo, and moving on to the very heart of El Centro and Parque Calderon by moving to the Hotel Milan later on today after worship services at Iglesia Verbo. Here on Calle Honorato Vasquez in the heart of the Antigua district of El Centro, there's restaurants and some bars aplenty just on our street alone, with much more surrounding us. We often get the sound of either a car alarm or a burglar alarm - same sounds you hear in the USA - going off in the middle of the night. You can hear the rowdier kind of crowds here at the condo in the street, and the noise continues 'til about 2:00 AM, when the bars thankfully close. We had someone throw either a bottle or a rock at the entrance door, which is framed in a soothing varnished wood with a one way see through glass which is opaque to outsiders with wrought iron bars to reinforce the glass, and part of it was broken the previous night, about 2:00 AM according to one of us staying here at the condos. First time we ever witnessed that sort of thing, but not totally unexpected, based on what we already knew of Latin American culture while living in California.
Ecuadorians don't typically challenge the status quo. If they have something to say socially, politically, or spiritually, they will graffiti the side of a building to express themselves. On the side of the New Cathedral by Parque Calderon, atheists scrawled in black paint, "Dios no existen" - God does not exist. No one covers it up or does graffiti abatement here in Ecuador. . . really different than in the States. Their real feelings are thus said anonymously. . . without fear of retribution. Newspapers here don't have writer's bylines except for editorials, which are signed. . . the exact opposite of US practice. That said, when you as a North American challenge an Ecuadorian on a matter of contention, they back off, say nothing, and offer no defense or resistance to you. . . you have the upper hand. . . but don't rub it in. I was talking to a pastor at Iglesia Verbo about the dirty little secret that is the orphan crisis in Ecuador, and he visibly cringed at my remark. We will by the way be visiting one of Verbo's orphanages Tuesday afternoon to see for ourselves these forgotten, forlorn children who evidently need much time with loving adults for camaraderie, affection, and guidance. Stay tuned for more on this in a future post.
Carolyn Anne has been complimented by the owners of our favorite Mexican restaurant across the street, Mexico Lindo Querido, as "everybody's mother." What a compliment on today, Mother's Day! Her love for their children is evident, and the second youngest, Juliana Violeta, just age 2, will come to our table while we are waiting for the food and play games and visit us. ?Preciosa, no? (wide grin)