Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Do the locals welcome Expats?

We met and made friends with several local Ecuadorians &/or Cuencanos during our exploratory trip last April/May. They were warm and welcoming, helping us learn a little Spanish as we became familiar with our now current home.

Since then we've read rumors that expats aren't so welcome here. Well, we don't believe it. We smile and wish those we pass on the street a Buenos Dias or Buenos Tardes as the time of day dictates. We live in a mini-subdivision where we and our downstairs neighbor are the only Norte Americanos. Everyone has been friendly and helpful.

Outside our little compound we have had the following encounters in just the last two weeks!

~ We were on the bus and there was a sweet little girl sitting in the front row facing backwards, no one between her and us sitting in about the middle row. We smiled and waved and she hid down behind the seat, slowly looking back up. We continued smiling and waving and before long she was singing to us and showing us her little pink toy pony.

~ We had taken our friend and translator, Emilio, to Banco del Pichincha to open our savings account. A week later we were to go back and get our debit card and access key for setting up our online access. We looked at the signs, shrugged and got into the first line. We quietly chatted while we waited our turn. A gentleman in front of us turned and introduced himself. He was Ecuadorian but spoke immaculate English. He asked what we were there for and he read the signs and directed us to the line beside ours. We moved over and chatted with him until we were called forward. Thank you to Santiago for taking time to help us!

~ We went to try out a different shopping mall, Monay, and saw a big pharmacy out front. We pulled out our US Rx and went it to see what they had or didn't have. Turned out there was only one that we couldn't get. The clerk understood a little English but spoke almost none. Between what I understood in Spanish, we managed quite well. Without our asking she registered us for a discount card and as she handed it to me, a local gentleman waiting at the register offered us assistance if we needed it. He was concerned that we might not understand what she was saying and he felt it was important that we did. Another huge thank you to him for his help!

~ One thing I've been looking for is witch hazel. While in El Centro we saw a neat little shop with Botica in the name so we stopped in. I had forgotten my note with the translation for witch hazel and tried to communicate what it was to the clerk. Even after writing down the name she was confused. A twenty-something girl came over and asked what I was looking for. She roughly translated the name but still no recognition. Then she asked me what it was used for and translated that. They didn't have it, or anything like it, so we thanked the clerk and our impromptu helper. We told her how good her English was, so much better than our Spanish, and she blushed as she thanked us.

~ Still in El Centro, a stop at another pharmacy. We were looking to find out if they might carry the one prescription medication we were unable to procure. Again, no luck but as Stu was walking away from the pharmacy counter, a woman approached Stu, making sure he had gotten correct information. She appeared to be knowledgeable about medications and agreed that seemed to be unavailable in Cuenca.

~ We stopped in a little shop full of paintings, tiles and other painted ceramics. The woman proprietor spoke no English but did ask if we spoke French. We shook our heads and she continued in Spanish, speaking VERY slowly and carefully. Slowly and carefully enough that I could pick up several words in each sentence and get the gist of what she was saying. We greatly appreciated her effort to be understandable without our asking. We plan to go back and buy some of the tiles her husband had painted.

So, we've seen no signs of an UNWELCOME mat being put out by fact, just the opposite!

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