Thursday, April 02, 2015

And Now the Last Musings on People in Otavalo

In addition to things that really impressed us, I have to speak to the people that inspired us. On our first evening, we went to see if the tourism office was open. Right outside the office was this young boy stacking things in a box. At first, I did not pay much attention, but when taking a second look, I realized he was packing away the unsold stock of the day. There were other boxes on the ground that he completed already. Shortly after, a car pulled up where the boxes were placed in the trunk. It made me aware once again how early the children here become working members of the family.

I had read an article in some US newspaper regarding Ecuadorian immigrants to the US. It mentioned there was a
large group in the Minneapolis – St. Paul area. What was interesting was the fact that the reporter claimed that it is well known Ecuadorians have excellent work ethics; they can find a job the day after they arrive. The article continued to mention that employers have come to know that they will get more than a day’s pay from a day’s work with an Ecuadorian employee, hence making them sought after. Here in Ecuador, it seems they will do anything possible to succeed, regardless of how menial the task. I cannot speak to their success or failure, but the point is they try.

People of all ages are continually carrying packages around.
In Otavalo in particular, the average person is short. They are to short that if they were to kiss me on the lips, I would have to get on my knees first, while they still reached up on their tippy toes. This makes me wonder how their backs survive the weight of carrying things all the time. I question whether being short has been an advantage for some reason. Some backpacks are larger than the height of the person carrying it. This is similar to the ratio with
an ant that is carting off food. It is also apparent that the women in particular carry their babies on their backs for a number of years. Is this back strength development?

Being a culture junkie, I am acutely aware of how the indigenous people maintain their culture in a fast changing world. What warmed my heart was to see small girls wearing the same traditional blouse and skirt as their female relatives. There is a concession though. 
 A number of young people have smartphones. This seemed incongruent with the customs, until I read this article based in the US. It could be similar circumstances in Otavalo and other parts of South America in general. 

Loja wants to claim the title of Music and Art Capital of Ecuador, but personally, I believe this is a marketing ploy. We have discovered more art galleries, artist venues, and musical events in other cities and towns then we did in Loja. Our first night, we went to the central square where there was a concert and dance entertaining the masses. A few days later, when I needed my
Daily Grind coffee fix, we discovered a band playing on the plaza of the central park. The man at the tourism office told us there was a daily music event in front of the cathedral, but the times varied. We were especially pleased to see the female members of the band; this was an equal opportunity career.

This brings me to an observation I have made, though I do not know if stats will support it. From my looking around, I would guess that the baby population is 7:1 girls to boys. 

Finally, the artistic talent is ubiquitous. Not only is it evident in the crafts, art galleries, museums, but more blatant is the street art. We have discovered some fabulous murals on walls that could qualify as a gallery if not museum piece, yet it is
covering a concrete wall. There are two ways to think about this. In one respect, being public art gives the mural a wider audience who can see and appreciate it. Alternatively, it is exposed to the elements, in some cases severely limiting its value as the paint becomes faded, chipped or the wall demolished all together. Overall, I feel privileged to have had the opportunity to appreciate them at this time. 

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