By Linda McFarlin
A woman living in Ecuador is not often deferred to in public. For instance, unless she is very old, pregnant or carrying a young child, men rarely give up their seats to women on buses.
Lugging 3 bags of groceries and a new clock for the kitchen onto a bus from Ibarra to Cotacachi, I was pleasantly surprised when a young man helped me juggle my way into a seat next to him. Then he returned to the book he was reading. Even without knowing much Spanish, I figured out that he was reading John Gray’s, “Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus.”
We talked all the way to Cotacachi. I invited him to come to our apartment to meet Gary (and to help me carry my packages up our four flights of stairs!) He shared with us how Gray’s book had altered his views about women and the ways men perceive them.
As you will see when you read his story, Cesar has a passion for Ecuador. That passion sparkles in his eyes as he talks. Like so many young people we have met in Ecuador, Cesar has a special quality. One cannot help but be inspired by his enthusiasm and unique insight as he speaks of Ecuador culture, politics and changes he would like to see. The passion of the young is one of the exciting things about living in Ecuador.
Part I of Cesar’s story covers the influences that have shaped his life and his changing relationships with his brothers, other men and with women.
In Part II, to be published in the next newsletter, Cesar speaks of President Correa, elucidates his views on Ecuador politics, and describes what is happening with indigenous pride. Don’t miss it!
I’m 29, single and living with my parents in our family home in Cotacachi. My bloodline is mestizo, which is part Spanish and part indigenous.
Right now I teach high school math and am also finishing my last semester in college in business administration. My goal used to be strictly business and making money. But I have learned about much more--economics, psychology, Ecuador politics, organizations and finance.
All of this has helped me to see that people can do great things. What is now much more interesting to me is helping my community, much more important than making money.
I fell in love with human beings and they are really great. "Riches is not about money. Riches is about people."
Ecuador is a third-world country. The rest of the world calls us poor. Many of us have very little money, but we are very rich in other ways. Because the people here are now seeing how really rich they are, seeing their own true value, I am able to see many opportunities for the people, for my country. Living in Ecuador is a good thing.
For example: the indigenous don’t really need much money. They have their land and the food they grow on the land. When they need something extra, they can sell some of their crops or sell a cow. They are happy living in Ecuador like this.
The West tries to get us to buy more things—more expensive things, better things, bigger things. I thought about that and I don’t agree. Getting things isn’t the center of life. To be the best person you can be is much better than being the richest you can be.
We get information at college but not a real education. Ecuadorians become workers or live life in a selfish way. They don’t learn about the important things. My father is amazing. He taught me so much. He does things for people only to see them have a better life.
The best reward is not money. It’s to help people be better than they were before you met them.
My father does that. He wants to do that through the Assemblea. First he had to learn how Ecuador politics works and now as the president of the Assemblea Cantonal, to do good things for the people. He teaches the participatory democracy action groups how to create what they want. When they started, they didn’t know how. With my father’s help, they have learned how to be effective.
God made women to love. It’s amazing to find people in this time and age that are all about love. I have had many conversations with women. Men are often selfish, competitive, trying to get the most out of life. I find that many women are loving and happy. I never knew that something like that could exist in the universe.
This new insight has helped me with my brothers. This is a very machisimo society. Men here have some wrong ideas about women. This is sad. They judge a situation only as a man and don’t see it from a woman’s perspective.
I tell my male students, "Shut up, don’t talk to her like that!" when they say inappropriate things to females. "Let her be a woman and let her like what she likes. While you are in my class, you will respect the differences between you and women."
We can’t punish women for being different. They like sweet things, pretty things.
The power is with the men right now. If they don’t change, nothing will change. Living in Ecuador will be better for all of us if we respect each other’s differences.
In our next newsletter read Part II of Cesar’s story—his views on Ecuador politics, presidents and indigenous pride restored.