By Pierre Volter
What an amazing country Ecuador is! Tucked on the west coast of the Latin American continent, it is tiny and indeed highly underrated. Nevertheless, it offers a stunning diversity of breathtaking landscapes with its 4 regions: the coast, the sierra, the amazon or “orient” as they call it and of course the world famous Galapagos.
Not only does it offer such a diversity of landscapes and climates in such a small area but the diversity of people is no less amazing from the typical and expected Latino (brown dark hair Spanish looking) to almost white with green eyes to completely black. The country has many tribes of indigenous people from the mountain, the coast or the amazon. They all have different looks, different cultures and traditions, speak different dialects. Traveling through Ecuador is a never ending experience of discovery.
Artists abound in Ecuador and I never ceased being amazed by their creativity and in the case of painting, the vibrant colors of their art.
Ecuadorian people are not aggressive. Of course there is the so called “Latin blood”, they can be hot and impulsive and yes there is violence and one will read in the newspapers about the latest passionate crime where the husband killed his wife with a knife because she cheated on him. Or if you are so inclined you will find on the internet the story of this lovely Canadian couple who was brutally assaulted in Vilcabamba.
Newspapers are newspapers though and they publish what people want to read. I have lived 15 years in New Zealand, one of the most pristine country in the world, barely populated, a place where violence really should be unknown. However, however … One has to watch the NZ movie “Once were warriors” to get a grasp of the “other New Zealand”, the one that is not presented in the tourist brochures. There are gangs, skinheads and a range of petty delinquents roaming the place, burning tires, getting drunk and causing trouble. Ecuador is by no mean worse than New Zealand and in several ways I would say better in terms of safety.
I am privileged to share my life with an Ecuadorian woman. We often talk about the topic of the Ecuadorian people. We both came to the conclusion that it must be the mix between the Spanish and the Indians that produced this unique blend that we see here. People can be very handsome, women stunningly beautiful.
Not only are they handsome but they are easygoing and like I said before not conflictual. Actually they can be too tranquil at times, letting the government or the multinationals like in the case of of the famous Chevron case abuse them over and over. Some times they should revolt and they don’t. They can be too placid. This must be due to the strong influence of religion that tells them day after day that one should deserve his place in paradise through suffering and/or abnegation.
What was my first impression when I discovered Ecuador in 2008? This is what I wrote in those days:
“Here, you will find smiles, you will be welcome, you will feel that you can relax and be yourself.
Don’t come to Ecuador (only) for rational reasons such as making money, cheap living or having a big house on the beach (although you can make money here and you can have a big house if you want)
Come to Ecuador because your heart, your soul, whatever word you want to use, drives you here”
Look at kids in the many villages of Ecuador. Kids say a lot about a society.
They play, they laugh. although they have very little.
Here is a photo taken on the main square of Cotocachi, north of Quito
Feels like the clock has been wound back 50 years.
The joy is contagious. Here is our own little 5 year old treasure Emily, having fun chasing the pigeons on a square in the center of Loja
There is a strong sense of community, people help each other, care for each other.
Here is a scene from a humble place in the country, the little girl hugs the puppy and the adults show signs of friendship and support in the background
The old people have their problems like everywhere else.
Here the homeless is giving bread to those which have less than himself
Here the lady who has obviously lost her marbles (has she? or is it us who are missing something?) laughing her head off and hugging me in the streets of San Antonio
People still wash their clothes in the cold water of the river. Photo taken in Cuenca.
And roadwork is still done by hand
Animals are not always treated in the best possible way to say the least.
Here is “rooster street” in Vilcabamba. These roosters are used for fights and they are tied up so that they don’t fight when they are not supposed to.
And yes, they do eat guinea pigs
Driving can be quite an experience when you find yourself approaching a blind corner in a taxi passing a car which is passing a car which is passing another car:
Somehow, accidents don’t seem to occur more than anywhere else though.
We have chosen Vilcabamba to live because of its climate, its beauty and its energy.
It is located in the South of Ecuador, near the Peru border in the province of Loja.
I have now completed my 6th year of life in Ecuador and I am not disappointed. I have so much to write about that it is hard to know where to start.
In the next articles of this “Ecuador Diverse” series I will try to cover as much as I can. I will also focus on the southern part of the country, the Loja province which borders with Peru, because this is where I live and also because I believe that it is the most underrated.
For those of yo who can understand a little bit of Spanish, don’t miss the Gringo al SUR TV series showing slices of real life in southern Ecuador.
Hasta la vista and talk to you later.
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Tags: #gringoalsur #todoloja #ecuadordiverse #seekvilcabamba