An Assortment of Thoughts from September

Graham Collins - Ecuador

November 29, 2012


I could have sworn I heard the “nyan cat” when I was walking down the street today.

I was in the middle of Mindo when Ecuador scored a goal against Chile, and the whole town up and down the street just started yelling. It was pretty awesome.

The recurring mistake I make in Spanish is pronouncing hunger wrong so that I instead say “I have a man.” Laughs follow.

I have managed to avoid saying “excitado.” Whenever the Global Citizen Year Fellows were in the States, we would always use the word “excited” to describe how we felt about going to Ecuador. It was the easy, go-to word. “Excitado” always wants to be said, but it actually means sexually excited. Many of my friends have messed that one up, but I have managed to avoid slipping up.

Most of the people are relatively respectful and understanding of different things. However, there are some people who follow the stereotype of only talking about sex, treating women poorly, making racist remarks, and making fun of gays. It’s hard to know what to do because most of what you say won’t make a difference. Explaining that there are more important things with women than sex is really easy to do in Spanish, so I usually just stick with that statement. I treat women as they should be treated, and I don’t object or step in when they are mistreated. I don’t know what I should do in such times. Most people aren’t very racist. I have only heard people express dislike for Afro Ecuadorians a few times. In these moments, I just get confused and say that there is no problem with being black. I tell that I like people of all skin colors, and I ask them why skin color would make a difference. There is a stigma against the indigenous that I respond to in the same way. However, this is not a common conflict for me because there are only mestizos and hippies from Argentina in Mindo. For making fun of gays, I have so far only acted like I don’t understand. I try to get the conversation to move on. However, sometimes they try to explain. It is hard to pretend you are confused when they say “one man like one man” because they know you understand those basic words in Spanish. Yet, I don’t know how to be constructive in such situations.

I wrote another blog post about my life so far, but I want to add a bit before I submit that one. Here are just a few comments about life.

Also, today is a holiday here. I slept in, chilled a bit in my house, then wandered around Mindo. A guy I work with sometimes is also a chef in a local restaurant, so I helped out there all day. It was a good time. I got some free food as well. It is also flattering that just by being a white man in non-touristy places, chicas giggle and stare at me. When I return to America, I’m going to have an enormous ego.

I’m supposed to get to learn to dance at a party with my family tomorrow. Trying to learn to dance in the first three weeks in Mindo was actually one of my goals for Global Citizen Year, so I’ll probably try to go with the daughter of the owner of the restaurant if tomorrow doesn’t work out. She said she’d teach me. Sometimes it is okay to take advantage of being a white gringo living in Mindo.

Also, getting ripped off is good and bad. Sometimes I just get annoyed that they charge me more for some things. However, this is often how it goes down:

Woman in a panaderia: 40 cents.

Me: Okay, thank you.  [I know it is normally 25 cents for this particular item]

In my head: Ha! Jokes on you! I’m glad to pay 40 cents for a wonderful piece of bread! In the US, this would be three bucks. You think you got me, but really, I got you! Yay! Bread! [The bread is wonderful and fresh here. I can’t get enough.]

Well, cheers for now. I’ll probably post the other thing I wrote the next time I get internet.

I forget we have to post a picture with our post. All I have with me right now in this internet café is a picture of a road with materials for building a road. It is a good project for me to work on because it is very tangible. Plus, I am getting a road that is not covered with dust that will go past my house towards my work. My host dad will not have to use 4 wheel drive mode on his taxi/truck when he drives home.

[Insert] I wrote this in September after only being in Ecuador for a few weeks. It had some problems being posted, but here it is now. Hopefully it will provide insight into what I was thinking at the time.

Graham Collins