I’m finally back from the U.S. I must admit that it has taken me awhile to digest my trip so that I can even write about it.
My basic overall impression of the U.S. vs Ecuador was an Abundance vs Scarcity mentality and experience. The clash of life between here and there was astounding. Everywhere I went in the U.S. people were talking about scarcity – what they wanted and didn’t have, what they needed and didn’t have enough money for, how they wanted to feel and didn’t.
When I first arrived here in Ecuador I asked someone – as delicately and politely as I could – if Ecuadorians were a depressed people. Before answering, this hotel owner first asked me in return, “Why would you ever think that?” I replied, “Well I see a lot of Ecuadorians at all different times of day laying in their hammocks. I’m wondering if they lie there in the hammock because they are depressed, out of work or -forgive me for saying so, but I really want to understand this – lazy. What is it?”
This man named Felix, laughed and said, “Lazy? No. Depressed? No. Out of work? No. Ecuadorians earn that time in their hammocks. They work to earn it. You Americans really have a poor quality of life. You have a lot of stuff and a lot of money but you are never satisfied with what you have so it means nothing to you. You never have enough. And I know because I lived and worked there in the US until I couldn’t take it anymore and saved enough money to return here to my Home Country. So no. Ecuadorians are pursuing a very different life than you Americans. A full and tranquil life, full of an abundance of family time, hammock time and fun time is what we aspire to. We have worked hard to earn that time and we truly enjoy every single second of it.”
I was, frankly astounded and honestly didn’t fully believe him when he said what he said back last October. But now that I have lived here for ten months and have taken a trip back to the US in the middle of it, I see that what Felix said is true.
Here in Ecuador, people don’t have a lot but they are happy with what they have. They talk about the tranquil and abundant life. Ecuadorians work only as much as they wish to actually attain what it is they want. If what they want costs 30 hours of work at $2.00 per hour and that work will buy their family – gas enough to get their truck to a day trip to the beach, where they can sit in the water all day together and talk, take a long walk, have a lovely lunch and beers a plenty in a restaurant and simply enjoy each others company – then OK: 30 hours of work at $2.00 per hour it is. Ecuadorians are glad to work those hours. Why? 30 hours of work buys something tangible and meaningful here, even if it is a few hours of rest in their hammock.
When I was in the U.S., people couldn’t make time to visit, they were too busy and stressed out at work. People in the U.S. couldn’t go to a restaurant because it was too expensive and they couldn’t afford it. People were so over extended financially, everywhere I turned, they were losing their homes, their savings and their self respect. People in the U.S. were incredibly distracted with stress and fatigue and their “To Do List.” Some of these people had even become very ill trying to keep up the illusion and fascade of success, buying their lifestyle at the expense of their health and well-being. I could feel it everywhere I travelled, whether it was the West Coast or the East Coast.
When I got back to Ecuador, everyone I knew here wanted to spend hours and hours sitting around over a beer or wine and a meal and wanted to know EVERYthing I had done and seen on my trip. And they weren’t just asking to be polite like I thought at first. They really wanted to know. And they listened and laughed and asked a lot of questions.
That’s when I put my finger on something that had been bothering me. I realized that with very few exceptions, most of my family, friends, colleagues and others in the U.S. had not asked many questions about my new life here in Ecuador. In hindsight, it felt like they really didn’t want to know much about my day to day life here or simply couldn’t relate to what I was doing. Rather, I found myself doing a lot of listening.
My overall observation was that many people I spoke with were so focused on just trying to keep up, they didn’t have any more space within to hear about anything else. Many people were in such a place of personal or professional struggle, they seemed like they couldn’t even consider another alternative to what they were working so hard to maintain.
In fact, one woman who I had thought of as a good friend in the U.S. actually told me that “our friendship has now reached a logical conclusion” as “she was not ever going to travel to Ecuador and I clearly wasn’t coming back to the U.S.” I wasn’t aware that true friendships had geographical boundaries.
So I would have to say that returning back to Ecuador was an enormous relief. Now that we have received our shipping container with all our familiar furniture, rugs, art and kitchen utensils, the place we live really feels more like a Home instead of a rental property.
So if you ask me to choose between a life of scarcity and one of abundance, I’d choose abundance. That life of abundance is here in Ecuador for me.
PS: Would you like more ACCURATE, AUTHENTIC and UP TO DATE INFORMATION about ECUADOR?
WORDS TO THRIVE BY FOR WORLD TRAVELERS: FOOTPRINTS IN ECUADOR by Mary Anne Dorward