I am a native Arkansan, so I’m very familiar with the term “Southern” and all the connotations that stereotypically come to mind. I even like most of them and have a certain amount of “Southern pride.”
Currently, I am a bit more South than I’ve ever been before: in Ecuador. South America. It’s a whole new realm of southern. Thirteen days ago, my husband and I set out on a journey to explore a new adventure. We are living for the next three months in our new home in Puerto Cayo, Manabi, Ecuador. Casa Azul, as it is known to the locals. In fact, when asked what our address is, for rental cars, purchases, etc., that is the only address we have to give: Casa Azul, Pto. Cayo. A non-numbered address is just one of the differences we have noticed while here.
We have only met a few Ecuadorians, but all seem very friendly. Steve, my husband said the other day, if there was one word to describe some of the differences in the people here and what we are used to, it would be festive.
Those who know me well, understand how well that fits my personality. I love to have a reason to celebrate, even the smallest of things. In many of my speech classes I taught back in the states at the local university, on day one I would establish the priority: have fun.
The first official celebration during our stay was New Year’s. We unfortunately missed out on the festivities, including a dinner with friends. Our power went out about an hour before we were to be at our reservation. You may think this was a minor detail, but our water (pressure) and hot water heater were both inoperable during this time (as well as flushing our toilets) and we had been out sweating in the yard all day. Not a good way to meet new faces when your aroma preceeds you. The power had obviously gone out due to the mega speakers that had been playing only 30 minutes earlier as the locals prepared for “celebration.” Our whole town had power out for about an hour and a half and yesterday in Manta, the larger city where we rent our car, I found out they had similar issues later in the evening.
Puerto Cayo is on the Pacific Coast and so the lifestyle here is perhaps different from the mountain Ecuadorians, but I think we can get used to it really quickly. We are early risers and like to get up and get our work done early so we have time to relax and enjoy a large part of the daylight. Each morning as we drive into town on our newly purchased scooter, we see three guys just laid back, one working on their fishing net. They always wave as we give the polite “beep-beep” from the scooter and wave.
Today Steve took me to a newly discovered tienda (store) where we purchased many flavorful ingredients for the pollo y arroz dish he will prepare for dinner. We also saw our first bag of salt for sale. We haven’t seen pepper yet, maybe we just aren’t looking in the right places. From what we have seen, the diet here is healthier and fresher than what we are accustomed to in the states. I told Steve yesterday when we had not yet seen salt, perhaps that is why the people seem so much healthier, they don’t use it.
Just a glimpse out of the South window. Thanks for looking with me.