Living Here

It’s wonderful to have enough money from week to week!  I can afford it!   Still living simply; only shopping for food.  I am loving having my own place to live, my tile floors and huge windows.  I’m always about the view!  Very sparse furnishings give me plenty of space, which I enjoy.

This little city does have many of the features I remember with fondness from Mazatlan in 1955.   A beautiful plaza in front of the church with benches and jacaranda trees, art on the buildings, steps of the church with food vendors, but no shoe shine boys!   I love watching the trucks come with nothing but flats of eggs or huge bunches of bananas.  parque 004

church stepsThe noise is part of the fun, as I’m often drawn to the windows to see what new thing is happening out there.  Also, one of the skills required is to recognize the noise your vendor makes and be ready to run down the stairs in time to connect.

I’m not blogging much because I’ve settled in to a quiet life of writing my book, painting some primitive village scenes, and scheduling some conversational intercambios to meet Ecuadorians and practice Spanish.  Otherwise I will only learn how to say “Do you have a drying rack for clothes?”  Long walks around town to appreciate small shops, doors, artwork , indigenous dress.

I have now acquired the phone number of the gringo who does laundry for .50 a lb, another gringo who bakes gluten free bread, and a third who runs a writer’s group.  After many days of being alone and wondering how to find someone to talk to in Spanish,I feel a little like those days of long rounding courses where you see the whole world go by from your window while you stay in silence!  I started asking in the shops.  It seems nearly everyone would like to learn some English, know an American and help me learn Spanish.  I’m accumulating appointments and soon think I’ll have an hour of conversational exchange nearly every day.

bicycle vendor

Have met a few gringos.  So far have met no single women of my age.  There are retired couples mostly, and who mostly live in $100,000 houses in gated communities on the outskirts of town.  These people live separately from the town and at a much higher level than the rest of the town. They complain about robberies, and that taxi prices are rising.  (It now costs $1.00 for a ride home from town.  It used to cost .50)

For all that it’s politically incorrect now, I think colonialism is still alive and well; there are still plenty of people around who enjoy feeling more entitled, more civilized than the “natives”, and who are determined to bring their own standards to bear in a very kind and charitable way.  I feel at a loss as to how to make the argument that inefficiency is more fun.  ”no, no! don’t go show them how to run that restaurant like an U.S. church camp!”

Dogs run free here all over town.  I think they belong to merchants and families, because,while not as clean as U.S. dogs, they seem plenty well fed.  I like that they are not aggressive or territorial as U.S. dogs are!  So I walk by dozens of them every day and not one ever pays any attention to me.  Nor do they pick fights with each other, or growl and menace outsiders as U.S. dogs do.  What a peaceful change!  But the gringos have gone to the city and gotten an ordinance approved that they  now all have to wear collars and leashes when outside the house.  Oh no!  Its on the basis that the dogs deserve happy lives.  I don’t see how leashes and collars will make them happier?  They certainly won’t make me happier!  Luckily the laws probably won’t be enforced and that will give the do-gooders plenty to work on for the next 20 years.

street vendor

There are some other gringos who let me know they live in Ecuadorian neighborhoods and that you don’t get robbed if you live with the locals.  My building seems to be in an indigenous neighborhood, has four gringo apartments and two Ecuadorian,  has internet cafe on ground floor and is owned by indigenous family.  No one here has ever had issue with theft.  We are a less prosperous bunch, but quite happy.parque

Then there are men of my age who came here on their own and every single one that I have met, without exception is married to  or is engaged to a young Ecuadorian girl.  They are very happy except that the young ladies definitely want to be taken to the U.S. and the men want to stay here.   There are some gringo businesses here and which charge U.S. style prices for pizza, espresso, bar drinks, gringo foods like peanut butter.  As far as I can tell the gringos have their own culture and gatherings, much as Indian, Chinese or Pakistani immigrants do who settle in their own communities in the U.S.

I’ve decided to enjoy all three cultures!  Last week I had three good conversations in Spanish.  One in the park with an indigenous woman, one at the home of an Ecuadorian single mother who works in the shop where I bought the bed, and one with an Ecuadorian artist who takes photos of the indigenous markets and paints them.

Spanish words just slip right out of my head as fast as I learn them!  But I’m trying, which mostly amounts to cleaning up my creative grammar attempts.

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