Life is Good

Daniel Schwarz - Ecuador

November 14, 2012

A smile swept across my face while riding in the back of on old pickup truck. To be specific,  a rickety but sturdy and faded green Chevy with lots of miles on the odometer and lots of life left in it. The wind whipped at my face causing a rucous in my overgrown hair. I didn’t have a care in the world, not one. Bliss. ‘Life is good’ I thought. Yes, life is good!

Life is different in Ecuador. Whether you’re talking about Ecuatime, or the priorities of Ecuadorians.

Ecuatime:  Let me define Ecuatime. It is how time is viewed in Ecuador and it’s very laid back. Below is an example…

I awoke on a Saturday morning to the blazing sun through my window with my cousins, nieces, and nephews running around and making a lot of noise outside my bedroom. Martina, my niece, screamed loudly and knocked enthusiastically on my bedroom door. Very politely she asked to use to my iPad. I gave it to her, got out of bed, and entered the kitchen and proceeded to ask my mom what the plans were for the day. She gave me an antsy look and told me I needed to shower and get ready because we were going to her parent’s house in 30 minutes. Surprised by this I hurried into the bathroom, took a quick, cold shower (because there is no hot water), and got dressed with ten minutes to spare. Impressed with myself, I took the extra ten minutes, sat down on the roof deck and had a cup of tea. I waited on the deck for 20, 30, 50 minutes, an hour and a half. I then went to my mom and asked her when we were going. She told me that it ended up that we weren’t actually going to go. I laughed, I wasn’t angry – it was funny! It actually occurred to me that something like this could happen…because IT ALWAYS HAPPENS. Time in Ecuador isn’t very important. Showing up late is normal. In some cases, not showing up at all is acceptable. If you are lucky you will be informed that someone will be showing up late, or that plans have changed. It is a cultural difference from the Unites States and in fact, I kind of like it. It is nice not having to rush or be on a strict schedule. Ecuatime might seem like people are unreliable, or it can make things sort of stressful, but overall I find it relaxing.

Way of Life:  I walk home from work every day and it is hot – the sun is extremely strong. In reality, unless the sun is down or it is raining, which tends to happen every day, it is really hot and really humid. I’ve never felt the sun stronger. In the Amazon sweating is a way of life and it is seriously unrelenting.

On a more serious note, to Ecuadorians nothing is more important than family. Life revolves around family. Families tend to live within the same proximity. I have lived with two host families since arriving in Ecuador. The respective family units live very close to some or all of their extended family. When I mean close I mean neighbors, living in the same house or within fifteen minutes of each other. They value their family over their work, and they love to spend lots of time with each other. It is a beautiful thing. In the U.S. there is more of a push for kids to leave their home, be independent and “break away” from family. I do not necessarily think one is better than the other it is merely different. It’s interesting to witness the differences.

The more time I spend here the less I notice that things are strange to me. I am adapting and learning and I’m not rejecting. Everyday is fun and different. I am not feeling homesick. I am happy, and I am rolling with the punches as they come…Yes!! Life here is good!!

Daniel Schwarz