I decided to talk about some of the cultural differences on this post because honestly these are starting to become very apparent- and some are annoying. To start, I should mention that I do absolutely love Ecuador and have never regretted choosing to live here. The weather is perfect, I’m surrounded by mountains, and I can get to either the beach or the jungle within 4 1/2 hours. I know, I know, I shouldn’t ever complain since I’m able to live in such an amazing place and have the opportunity to travel to more countries on this incredible continent.
…but after living here for almost 5 months now, some of the cultural differences aren’t so “cute” anymore. For example, us Americans LOVE our personal space. I’m pretty sure no one in Ecuador understands what personal space is, and my “bubble” is constantly being invaded. Last weekend, I was standing in line at the grocery store and the place was absolutely packed. Like a normal American, I stood maybe 1 1/2-2 feet behind the lady in front of me. A girl came up and started talking to the lady in front of me, so I thought “ok, she is with that lady, no problem.” Then, a few minutes later after they had stopped talking another lady with a completely full cart walked up and joined the girl in front of me. I should probably mention that I was buying 4 things, not a cart full of groceries. Right then I realized that they completely cut in front of me, only because I respected the lady in front of me’s personal space. UGH I was so frustrated and got even more frustrated that they had a cart full of groceries. Now, American’s aren’t always known as the friendliest people, but if you have a cart full of groceries and someone only has 3 or 4 things, you usually let them go ahead, and you certainly don’t cut in front of them. To make things better, the lady behind me was so close to me that I just about felt violated by her cart. I never thought it would be a bad thing to actually respect someone’s personal space, but apparently you will never make it to the front of the line if you do.
This is how you are supposed to stand in line
However, after I finally made it out of there, I went to the mercado, which is one of my favorite places- there is an abundance of fruit, veggies, and flowers for only a fraction of the price as in the US.
Isn’t this place amazing?!
I usually go to the same vendors and this time after I paid for my produce, 2 different vendors gave me a tangerine for free. Maybe they could see that I was mad or having a bad day (yeah I know being cut in front of shouldn’t make me so mad, but it did that day), so they felt that was the least they could do. Whatever the reason, this very simple and unexpected act of kindness completely changed my mood.
As Americans (or maybe just Southerners), we are only passionate about one thing. I’m pretty sure you all know what this one thing is, but in case you don’t it’s FOOTBALL! I will admit that UGA football is, more than likely, the biggest thing that I am passionate about…and if you’re being honest, I’m sure you will agree. Don’t get me wrong, Ecuadorians love their football (soccer) and the city did shut down these past 2 weeks when Ecuador played in the Copa America. Unfortunately, Ecuador just isn’t that good, and I do feel bad for them because they do love the sport so much but the sport just doesn’t love them back- must be the Ecuadorian equivalent of being an Cubs fan? As much as they love their football/soccer, they love their politics even more. I have never seen a culture that cared and was as passionate about politics. And I must admit, I really like that about this Latin American culture. Everyone has an interest in what is going on in the country and when they aren’t happy, they make sure the government notices. In the previous years, the people have literally run at least 3 presidents out of the country. I can’t imagine Americans actually forcing a president out of the country fearing for his own life. Yeah I’m sure there are people that would love to do that, but physically doing it is a whole ‘nother thing. Just last week I was walking to one of my classes and I noticed a school bus stopped in the right lane of a busy road during rush hour, causing a huge traffic jam. Then, I could hear what sounded like the marching band from a college football game. As I got closer, I could see that a group of about 15 people had somehow gotten ahold of a school bus, tied down a giant stuffed turtle and jaguar onto the top of the bus, and were playing instruments in the street.
This entire protest was peaceful; the people just wanted to be heard not create violence. This is something I think Americans can learn a thing or 2 from. I love how passionate Latin Americans are about all aspects of their lives, and they aren’t afraid to show any emotion.
I do feel so lucky to live here and truly experience this different culture, which lately has shown to be very different from the American culture!