By Juan Sebastian Silva
The tacit and the meticulous are not the main characteristics of Ecuadorians. Phrases such as “more or less” and “approximately” are used every day to justify delays that are common and deeply normalised. Ecuadorian life revolves around less orderly steps, which has shaped its own culture to which we are all accustomed.
Walking through the streets of Riobamba is a daily challenge that we overcome with cunning. Every dawn means a world of unexpected possibilities that make us accumulate experiences in which there has never been a lack of eventful situations, whose catastrophic consequences are avoided by the prayers and blessings of a devoutly religious city.
This disorganised daily life has not prevented the various local communities from developing their practices and organising their various relationships at a more or less slow pace. In the case of water, these same logics dominate long meetings, extensive discussions and debates that end up giving shape to discourses of resistance, mixed with one or another particular interest.
For me personally, this normality has suffered a “shock” when I have jumped over a large body of water (the Atlantic Ocean) to reach distant lands. A KLM flight, which emits less CO2 and whose drink containers promote sustainable environmental practices, would take me to a neo-cultural meeting where this walk is more sequential and the times strictly controlled.
For me, the Dutch movement, its people and even its waters represented the adoption of other logics. Singular marks on the asphalt dominate, without voice, the citizen’s walk, while I get disoriented trying to follow the direction of the sun in northern countries, what a mistake! The winding streets are far from the rectangularity of the spatial distribution of my country. The precision of check-in and check-out coincides with the near-perfect timing of public transport, where I quickly became dependent on the NS app to relearn mobility. Everything seems deeply planned, and the breaking of canons is surely viewed with disbelief in a community that marches at a pace controlled by the accuracy of its daily schedule. But strangely, as I walk between the canals, the autumnal landscape inspires me to reflect on how these distant practices, customs and reasoning can contribute to inspiring ideas and facilitating bridges that connect and travel the Ecuadorian rivers, their communities and their people.