Random Acts of Kindness
Ecuador can be very confusing, aside from the road signs.
What we (in the UK) call the Ground Floor they sometimes call the Piso Bajo (or PB) and sometimes the 1st floor. When there's a PB the 1st floor is the 1st floor, and if not it's the 2nd floor. So if you're on what you think is the 1st floor but are directed to the 1st floor you may have to go up one floor or down one floor or stay where you are, depending on the kind of building you're in. Alles klar?
When I rode into Guayaquil yesterday afternoon I made the usual stop at the side of the street where I could see (hurrah) street signs so as to orient myself. A man emerged from a workshop and thrust a small glass of cold beer into my hand, showed me where I was on my map and sent me off in the right direction. The valet parking regime at the hotel was a bit flummoxed, but they compromised by sending me off to follow the hotel minibus to the parking garage from where it brought me back again. The bike appears to have a man with a machine pistol all to itself.
Most people don't wear helmets on bikes here (even the police, and especially the lady cops on the big Suzuki fours). So instead of signs on bank doors requesting helmet removal they request that you leave your firearm with the security guard. Sounds fair to me.
Still, walking around is very pleasant, and I had a lovely morning wandering through the little park by the hotel, where you can wish the iguanas and turtles good day, and then along the waterfront. Very civilized.
Eric the Equatorian Iguana
Posted by Cynthia Milton at August 15, 2005 06:25 PM GMT