Today, it is more about what we feel versus what we did. As we enter into our eighth day in Quito's Colonial District, we have slowly began to embrace this city and understand her. While it is typical for Latin American People to live in the streets and focus on themselves not you, the people we have met are very warm and understanding. They do their best to help even though there is a major language barrier. We are at fault for that, no one else.
We clearly stand out. Americans are rare in this city and even tourists are not the norm. The streets and stores are full of locals who are figuring out a way to earn a living and enjoy living. The many faces of people here range from the leather faced seniors to the small children who are carried on the backs of their working mothers. It is the seniors who are the backbone for work and religion. You see them extremely reverent in the many churches paying deep respect crossing themselves when the walk in front of a church or in deep prayer in front of a side alter dedicated to the Virgin Mary after lighting candles to pay homage.
We have often seen areas of the world where it seemed many of the natives worked very slow, slow service, and seemed disconnected from work. That is not the case here. The people seem to work hard. We observed a new construction project on a square that was completed while we were here. We see numerous people picking up trash, cleaning the streets, sweeping, and washing the sidewalks in front of their shops.
Many young couple who carry their children through the streets wrapped in blankets that serve as a baby carrier. Many couples who seem far too young to have a baby are very common. Entire families sit for dinner with grandparents from both sides helping watch the children. The children are clearly a part of everyday life here and included in their work as day care is not common.
There is also a large teenage crowd and young people who are trying to find their place in life. Graffiti is common. We never saw sports being played but perhaps that was more to the area we made our home as here there is a considerable amount of traffic. While we never felt threatened, we were on high alert when we entered purely native areas such as 6 blocks east of Venezuela and South of La Romba. We did not go into these areas at night. I often carried a large camera and my wife enjoys being well dressed both of which drew attention.
We seldom see anyone wearing shorts even though temperatures often near 80. I notice the common man being well dress as in clean, neat, proper - no tee shirts, sweatshirts but sweaters and slacks. The women commonly wear pants and tights that are far too tight to be comfortable. While most are not obese, they are healthy as their diet is so tied to corn, potatoes, and rice.
We continue to have great interactions with people here. People go out of their way to help. While we stood out, we never felt like people were looking at us in a bad way but more of a look of interest. We sat with two sisters at lunch in Mercado Central and they guided us through how to use the condiments of limes, popcorn, salsa, and plantains with our fried sea bass and ceviche. Huge language barrier but we worked our way through, they smiled and did their best to communicate and hug us before the left. It felt great.
One morning we entered a cafe in La Romba that was clearly servicing natives and the grandmother cook spoke English and came out to talk to us, help us with the meal, and take a picture before bidding us farewell. Each restaurant waiter or waitress has worked with us to get what we want, in most cases, successfully. People watch but smile. I made a point of saying hello to as many people as possible. One of our interactions was with four older gentlemen with one saying “Welcome to Quito” as we walked by. Another street guy approached us, pointed to a devil stature and said "Mr. Obama".
There is a heavy police presence here but it is not in any way threatening. They are there to help and keep a watchful eye on things. The first couple days of our trip, we felt like outsiders but as we progressed through the week, we both feel we could live here. This is an amazing place.