There are so many things to write about as someone who has just moved to a beautiful third world country. The official language is Spanish. The most common language is a smile.
I struggle so much to be understood. I know what a lot of things are called and "a lot" is subjective. Being patient has never been a really good virtue of mine and when they smile at me, I always slow down the arm flinging and gestures as well as the facial expressions. It is disarming. A flood of good will breaks loose and I smile back.
Today, while waiting on the bus to Loja, I decided to do a calculated human experiment. I noticed a little older Ecuadorian lady walking rather slowly and stooped who didn't seem to know where the ticket office was. I said "boletas" and pointed to the office. Then I smiled as big as I knew how. She stopped moving and returned the smile. Maybe it was a surprise to her but every time she looked my way I would give her a huge toothy grin and it would be returned.
She was on my bus and seated several rows behind me. After a short time, I was distracted by an adorable 3 year old in front of me who was getting quite a kick out of my goofy faces I was giving him. Needless to say, goofy faces are the same in every language as well. After about 10 kilometers, the bus stopped and I could tell a lot of people were standing to get off. I felt a hand on my shoulder and as I turned around to see who it was, I saw it was the same little woman. She wanted to squeeze my hand. As she was squeezing, I felt as if she had reached inside me and was squeezing my heart. And it was at that moment I realized I had made her day with my calculated little experiment. I could barely hold in the tears as I also realized she had returned the favor and made mine as well. It was a fair trade.
I am trying hard to improve my spanish and have signed on with a tutor for a couple of hours a week. Until and after I become much more proficient, I will always rely on smiling. It really is a common language with all people whether they know your words or not.
Keep smiling like Maria, Otavalo merchant:
Keep smiling like Raquel, Vilcabamba restaurant owner:
Keep smiling like Ramon, genuine cookie monster:
The worse thing that could happen is someone just might wonder what you are up to: