January 17, 2011

Parque El Paraiso

The weather has been warming up lately and yesterday was the perfect day for spending some time at the park. Parque El Paraiso is the largest green space within walking distance of downtown and a very popular family destination on Sundays.

There are ducks and paddle boats on the lake and all kinds of ways for families to amuse themselves.

I particularly like the way this little girl surrenders herself to the moment.

It also appears to be a favorite with couples, for both overt

and covert displays of affection.

Lots of grass for people to lay on as well some unusual benches created out of tree trunks, good for seating as well as for sleeping in a pinch.

I loved this simple and efficient design.

The design of this world clock was also quite fetching but not surprisingly, the clocks did not actually work.

There were quite a few signs posted, with rules ranging from "Please throw garbage in cans" to this one "For your safety, please don't climb the trees". I have never seen so many rules posted in a public place in Ecuador.

I believe dogs are supposed to be on leashes and I wonder if the diaper on this dog is so that the owners feel safe letting it off the leash in case of an accident? I didn't think it was a very good idea but it was hard to tell what the dog thought about it. Maybe it's piece of performance art?


Sapa Ynca said...

Hey looloo!
I really enjoy your perspectives on things. I read your blog because, among other reasons, my wife is Ecuadorian and we were married in Quito in 1982. While young when we married, she still has spent more years here than in Ecuador. I often call her "Gringa", which she detests..grin. But she never really got to know the country. Being an only girl with 6 brothers her life was pretty sheltered.
I have always wanted to ask you and I realize its just been a short while...are you glad you went back? Is it what you remember and expected? Or is it as new to you as I am sure it will be to her? Any advise for her?
I fell in love with the people and the family there. I felt pretty alone when I went there and for years I have felt closer to them than my own. After I went to a small village and got to see the warmth of the "Campesinos" I fell in love with their character. I need them to teach me life again. But I worry sometimes her perspectives are different. Any advice would be very appreciated.

looloo said...

Hi Sapa Ynca,

I actually didn't have too many expectations based on memory since I was just turning 5 when we left Ecuador. I think the culture in which I grew up is what shaped my world view so my experience so far is closer to that of an expat than to that of a "returning" Ecuadorian. I think the age at which you leave your birth place and how long you are away are the most important factors.

I know someone who left when she was 20 and was initially very comfortable returning to a culture she was familiar with, but within a few months felt increasingly out of sync. Someone who leaves when they are older will probably have a different experience. My father was in his thirties when we left and he always felt like an exile in the US and very much missed Ecuador.

I think, in the end, as with many things, it really depends on the individual. It will most likely be a surprise to your wife what she finds wonderful and what she finds difficult.

One thing that has surprised me is other people's interpretation of my experience. Some expats seem to assume that because I was born here, I have some sort of "Ecuadorian gene", which somehow defines me! No, there is no such thing as a gene for cultural knowledge or identity! And, of course, Ecuadorians assume that as an "Ecuadorian"I share their belief system but when they find out I have spent 9/10 of my life in the US they quickly understand why I am so "different".

So there you are--place of birth is becoming less and less important in the list of factors which shape identity. It has become increasingly common to be born in one place and end up living in others and may very well be the standard in the future. A shared culture (belief system)is much more relevant in identifying with others. I see it as a positive development--I think it creates easier access to a richer and more layered life experience but again, each individual experience is different.

Obviously, an open and flexible mind is your best asset when you participate in another culture! It is also quite possible to find a culture that is more congruent with your personal preferences, which may not be those of your country or culture of birth. It might feel like "home" and that would be the happiest of accidents!

Sapa Ynca said...

Very well said Loo. I knew you were young when you moved. She has not known the country but the traditions she has maintained. A certain refinement in a social environment not seen here too often that is common there. She will offer a guest a drink and something to eat. I, on the other hand, ask did they bring beer...grin. Thanks and Chao!