No One Wants Your Pity

We were all sitting around the table, enjoying our drinks and appetizers, waiting for our food to arrive; a group of Europeans and North Americans, and one Ecuadorian.

“These are delicious! What are they?”

“Patacones. They’re green plantain bananas, sliced, fried twice, and salted.”

“Do you think I can find plantains back in Switzerland?”

“Not sure how common they are in Europe, but I know you can find them in the States if you know where to look.”

This is when the patronizing began. A nice girl decides to put in her 2 cents.

“Well you should really think twice about that. You know Ecuador produces the most banana exports in the world, and the poor farmers are out there working all day and maybe only earn a couple dollars. I mean, think about it! So you can eat this plantain, there is a poor man working so hard out in the fields and earning a few dollars. A few dollars! That’s, like, nothing! Imagine working all day for nothing! Think about his kids! So you really should feel sorry for these people and when you’re eating those bananas. I mean, just think about those poor poor people…”

The Ecuadorian at the dinner table sat there silently with a brittle looking smile on her mouth, and fire in her eyes.

If you don’t understand why this is so offensive, let me try and put it in perspective for you. The cast of Real Housewives of New York have invited themselves to your neighborhood for vacation, and you decide to take them out to dinner since they’re new in town. Ramona turns to LuAnn and says:

“Wow, I don’t know if you know this, but these people here are like, sooooooo poor. Did you know that they make so little that sometimes they have to like, only buy one car! And I heard that some of these poor poor people are only getting their kids, like, a few gifts for Christmas this year. Can you imagine! Ugh, that is so so sad. This Christmas you all should be thinking about the poor poor people in this town and their pathetic little kids, some of whom might actually be wearing their older siblings’ hand-me-downs to school this year.”

Luckily for you the Housewives aren’t going to come visit your house too often. But now imagine now that they did. Imagine if Continue reading

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New Words

My Guide to Coastal Ecuadorian Spanish has been updated! Check out the new definitions of abril, cachudo, cagar, chilajarse, gringuero, lanzar and much more. Also more examples for expressions using verga and mun:

Handy-Dandy Glossary

This list is meant to give you a laugh. I also find examining colloquialisms to be an interesting way to learn about the culture that produced them, and the interplay between English and Spanish words can be really fun.  And finally, if you’re planning on a visit to Ecuador, knowing a little Ecuadorian Spanish and street Spanish could come in handy. ¡Disfrutalo!

I Love the *Blah* you *Blah*, and Other Inappropriateness

The party was beautiful. All the little girls were in frilly little dresses with ruffled little white socks and white dress shoes. The food was delicious and the cake was lovely. It was everything that a 2 year old’s birthday party should be… apart from “Love the Way You Lie” by Eminem and Rhiana blasting from the speakers. If you are unfamiliar with this song, do a YouTube search, otherwise here are some select lyrics for you:

“If she ever tries to f***in’ leave again,
Imma tie her to the bed and set this house on fire.”

The kids and moms were all running around, playing games, enjoying themselves, while I sat by the wall, glancing around nervously, and wringing my hands. It was as though some profane pop-up that I couldn’t get rid off had jumped onto my laptop screen while I was sitting in a public place. Oh god, oh god, go away, stop! Is anyone else noticing this? I didn’t do it, it’s not mine! Please, no one else notice this!

So why is a graphic song about a guy who beats the crap out of his girlfriend playing at a 2 year old girl’s birthday party in the first place? Not many people speak English in this part of Ecuador, so they are just listening to the catchy loop and picking out a few words. It probably sounds like:

Blah blah blah blah there and blah me cry,
Blah blah blah blah because I love the blah you blah

Nothing wrong with that! Perfect for the natal festivities of any little tot! The real issue is Continue reading

Sí, Yo Entiendo

To whom it may concern,

It is true that my grasp of your language is still rudimentary. My fluency has far outstripped my grasp of grammar and the range of my vocabulary, lending my ability to communicate an extremely bizarre but enthusiastic style. I know this. But please, Sir or Madam, do not for a moment mistake my infantile sentence structures and awkward pronunciations as an indication of my general intelligence. Continue reading