Sam: Ecuadorganization

November 17, 2010

Overall I haven’t felt too much of a culture shock in Ecuador. I feel comfortable with the language (except when my coworker breaks into Kichwañol), I can confidently navigate the cities, I know how to be safe and, slowly but surely, businesses are noticing that we CIMAS students do indeed live in Otavalo and have started serving us and stopped ripping us off.

The issue I have had being an American abroad is the concept of time. People show up 30 to 60 minutes after the designated time for meeting (on average). I expected this for trying to organize activities; I did not expect this for work. I suppose being a half hour late is fine in stores and restaurants, but heaven forbid I need emergency surgery I can’t say I’d be content to just hang out for an hour until my surgeon decided to show up. I have included a list of my observations regarding what people say and what they mean:

“Ahora” (“Now”) = “Today(ish)”
“Ahorita” (“Right now”) = “Within an hour (possibly)”
“Viene ya mismo” (“He/She is on his/her way”) = “He/she will get around to you when he/she feels like it”
“Apúrate” (“Hurry up”) = “Move at the speed most convenient to you”
“Un ratito” (“A little while”) = “Four hours to a week”

Furthermore, organizational skills are not mandatory, which has been a huge issue for my punctual American conscience. Today we drove to a high school so I could administer a survey. I assumed that all was arranged, mainly because I was assured that it was when I asked. Unsurprisingly, there were no students at all because it is the job of high school students to collect census data all this week. Thankfully, I did get an appointment for Monday, so it remains to be seen if that will come to fruition.

Fortunately, all is not hopeless. My Honors project is approved, the sun came out for a bit today for the first time in a week, and I’m pretty sure I received a job offer for an indigenous agricultural organization if I return within the next two years. I think that’s just the way things are here.

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