August 27, 2010

On the Street


I remembered to take my camera today on my way to lunch. Here are a few images that caught my eye. The one above is of road repair workers on their lunch break. There's been quite a bit of work done on the streets recently and I've noticed that the guys (no female construction workers ever) take a proper break. First they unpack the lunches they've brought from home. Then once they've finished eating, they either play cards (the two groups on the right and left of the picture), have amiable chats with lots of smiling and laughing (guys in the middle) or take a nap (on the far left).

I know the work is physically very hard as they do not use power tools, not even to break stones! And yet, it looks to me like there's a certain kind of everyday pride and civility in making a living. I have the impression, and I may be wrong, that people here tend to work to live, they do not live to work, as sometimes seems the case in the US. This is a topic which interests me tremendously.

Here is another example of the absolutely wacky mannequins one sees posing in front of stores. Where on earth do they find them?

And here are a couple of chicas taking a stroll through the park. The one on the left is actually a transvestite. I was curious about the reaction of passerby so I followed them for a bit. Once they passed them, people would glance back at them and a few men, including a policeman, appeared very amused and sort of snickered once they had walked by. However, it was more of a curious and/or amused reaction, not an aggressive one. No one stared or said anything to them--they waited until they had walked by to react. It's definitely not a common sight and I was a bit surprised but heartened that they were not harassed.

5 comments:

Idea said...

Lovely pictures and interesting notes. Thank you.

RE: //I have the impression, and I may be wrong, that people here tend to work to live, they do not live to work, as sometimes seems the case in the US. This is a topic which interests me tremendously//

Have you read "Overworked American: The Unexpected Decline of Leisure" by Juliet B. Schor ?
It was published perhaps around 15 years ago, when she still was teaching at Harvard Business School. She was duly noticed :-) Wrote another book and moved to real professorship, in sociology, cannot recall where

Nor can I recall whether she took her thesis from "Americans live to work" to "Americans live to consume". But, I think, that the extension is totally warranted. Surely, one could continue talking about the Puritan morals and the love of work stemming from it. However, this would yield no connection to the unyielding consumerism.

BTW, I am that slightly wacky correspondent of yours :-)

looloo said...

Hey wacky correspondent! The subject is definitely a complex one and I've done quite a bit of research on it--I pretty much had to read everything even tangentially connected to it for the review of literature for the doctoral dissertation, including Schor's work!

It's amazing, perhaps mostly from an intellectual perspective, to be living in a culture where I can see first-hand an alternative experience of what it means to work for a living. (However, in no way am I romanticizing the alternative, just noting it.)

Sapa Ynca said...

Yea Loo, the proble with the Rat Race here is even if you win...you are still a Rat! Reading the History of the Inca as told by "Inca" Garcilasso de la Vega explained a whole lot about the wonderful peoples there! Thanks for blogging "deep"!

Idea Merchant said...

Looloo, hi again, from the wakiness on the run :-)

So, you read Schor and so on, and on, and on ;) And you say now that you see
//what it means to work for a living. (However, in no way am I romanticizing the alternative, just noting it.)//

I shall bypass, at least for now, the romanticizing bit (so why not romanticize LIFE? ), and, in fact, just make a note for a, hopefully, long discussion to come, in Cuenca. And the note is on something that ran through my head, while I was running around as a chicken with the head cut off :-)

Have got no idea ( the right sort of an expat to be :-))) of what social services there are in Ecuador. Do they have pensions? When do they go on retirement?

But, if to think of European countries, well of the old Europe, excluding the former Eastern block, folks might have a great reason to work for living - they know that their old age is taken care of.

Here (for you, expats, already "there" :-), living to work is not only to consume, but also, until recently :-( , to build up the after-life, after-work-life of happy retirement.

The rest, TBD (to be discussed), I hope, with a glass of wine or, at least, tea o juice :-)

PS left a comment/questions on your previous post. Hope to hear answers sometimes. somewhere

Mike and Johnie said...

I read hat the American worker puts in more hours than any other more advanced nation, all the while with increasingly less earning power.

Maybe those guys are on to something. The street will get fixed eventually, But meanwhile, it"s lunch time and the exact moment to enjoy life.

Gotta think about that. Its foreign to my way of thinking...