Tuesday, January 10, 2012

The Great Comparison: Peru vs. Ecuador

The first thing I noticed as I entered Ecuador was housing estates. Just like in developed countries. It was truly bizarre, we passed slums and normal middle class south american housing and then we´d pass estate after estate! High walled with security but from what you could see of the houses they were north-american style. That was new for me, because in Cajamarca there aren´t any estates. In Baños lots of rich people live in nice houses but not in Cajamarca itself and those houses are all different and mostly in a Spanish architecture style so it is not the same. César says there are housing estates in Lima but whenever you talk of a city the size of London you are talking about a bit of everything. Anyway you can definetly see the difference the United States has made in Ecuador. That is not necesarily a positive thing. While it is clear that the upper class is more prominent there (I guess Cajamarca is more middle class) there are many more people on the street. I would guess that 10 x more people tried to sell me stuff or begged for money there. So what does becoming a buddy with the U.S. mean in the developing world from what I have seen? Simply a wider gap between the rich and the poor. Now, I am not saying that the housing estates didn´t look like lovely safe places to live, but that beside such poverty they seem perverse.
One more difference: Although I spoke of poverty they are slightly better off than Peruvian slums- we passed a few with satellite dishes all over the place! Is that the solution they have found for poverty? Give them satellite dishes? Because the housing was deplorable and the garbage solution was throw it down the sides of the mountain and into ditches. I also saw a 9 ? year old boy who risked his life running into the road to grab a piece of rubber.
Next: the roads! What beautiful pieces of architecture! The roads and the green trees and rain made me feel as if I were in England while passing through the countryside! Minus the bananas and coco plants! Ecuador beats Peru in roads and bus system! While classy Peruvian busses have more security - finger prints, film, baggage tickets etc. Ecuadorian busses don´t have that but they do have 1 thing, efficiency. In Guayaquil you go to the bus terminal which is like an airport, buy your ticket on the first level and run to find your bus before it leaves on the second or third level. You hope that nobody steals your luggage because it doesn´t have a ticket (to be fair, some agencies put tickets on). The bus leaves quickly. The problem is that a direct bus will stop in EVERY SINGLE VILLAGE AND TOWN to pick up and drop off passengers your 3 hour trip turns into a 5 hour trip. However many busses have air conditioning which is more than can be said for many Peruvian busses in which you get heatstroke in the day and freeze your butt off at night.
In both countries it is rare to find a bus with seatbelts unless you pay big bucks to take a first class top bus like Cruz del Sur (which I don´t).
In the picture I am eating humita, its like mushed up corn (not sweetcorn). That´s the best explanation I can give. People come on the bus at EVERY STOP and try to sell you just about anything, coconut milk, ice-cream, drinks, fruit whatever. It is actually quite convenient because you don´t have to move!
Happily, César is finally recovering. His lips are better and now his tongue is the main problem. At least now he can talk somewhat more clearly and seems to be in less pain unless he tries to eat something that isn´t a non-acidic soup. Yesterday while I was at work he went out to buy water since we didn´t have water for 2 days in the house and forgot his key so he had to walk to his mother´s room to wait for me to finish since he lost his cell phone. Excellent right! Hopefully he will be back to work next week.
Well I am going to go and take advantage of the fact that we have water and stop being cochina (dirty) as César says!
More to come, stay tuned xx

1 comment:

  1. Hey Gem,
    I noticed the same sort of thing (a huge mansion a midst the sheet metal shacks) in South Africa and asked myself the same question. The response I got from a friend, made me consider things a tad bit differently. If the fact that that huge house is in the midst of the shacks means that that area now has running water and electricity, perhaps it's a good thing.
    Just a thought to chew on :)