Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Oh, Ecuador

I don't know why, but right now, I feel compelled to write a bit about this beautiful place in which I've chosen to live. It's raining now as I write this, as we go into our seventh month of rain this year, the rainiest since I arrived here in mid-2001. (I'm glad I can say it's the rainiest year; gad, I'd hate to think what a rainier year would be like.)

This place (Ecuador) is about the size of Nevada, if you live in the States. While Nevada isn't the largest State by far, it's a fair sized chunk of territory, and so is Ecuador.

For a relatively small country though (and it's a lot, lot smaller than its neighbors, Colombia and Peru) it's got just about every kind of geographic setting and climate you'd want. Deserts, beaches, jungles, booming white water rivers, 20,000+ foot mountains, volcanoes, big world class surf, and of course, the unique (really) Galapagos - it's all here, plus Quito which is a cool city.

OK, it's not France, or some other nifty place that I'm sure you've seen, but the place meets my middle class needs, that's for sure, and I'm having a good time, so what the hell, who needs France?

What makes Ecuador more interesting though, are its people, whose personalities run the usual gamut, saints to sinners, and blah, blah. The thing is, if you look at this country at a macro level, at what I call its national psyche, you (or at least I) see a massive case of national low self esteem. Ecuadorians simply don't believe in/don't trust their social/governmental institutions, be it the Congress, justice system, the military, cops, media, or whatever. Ecuadorians expect their institutions to be weak, ineffective, corrupt and failed - and their expectations are met, just about every day they wake up and read the papers.

There's a standing joke (used in other countries too) that everything's cool in Ecuador; the only problem is that there are Ecuadorians here... I don't know, I've lived in seven different countries in Latin America (and by "lived", I mean three years or more in each and every country), and aside from, maybe, Honduras, I've never seen a more severe case of national inferiority.

Oh, well, I like to think that's something that outsiders who choose to live here, like me, can help change. These guys need a more positive attitude about their country and its ability to change/improve, and maybe people like me, who've adopted the place can lead the way. Let's hope so, anyway.....

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