On a beautiful and sunny day off the coast of Ecuador lies a quite and tony fishing town of San Antonio. Janis and I met Ecuadorians that just open their hearts and home to total strangers that needed help. It was actually me that needed the help.
Yes, we had tourist look written all over our faces and even though Janis is Ecuadorian they sill consider her as an outsider because of her looks. And for me, I’m just another chino passing trough. The friendliness, the natural and genuine smile of Ecuadorians living on the coast shows. This is one of the many reasons why I adore, admire and embraced the Ecuadorian culture and people.
Janis and I started our slow bike ride through the back streets of Cadeate. A small town that is bustling with small bakeries. The aroma of the sweetest smelling breads for miles around replaced the smell of the salt from the near by sea. Even the back dirt roads had the aroma of bakeries with its doors left wide open pumping out the freshest and tastiest breads 24 hours a day. It reminds me of Walt Disney World, in the Magic Kingdom where they would purposely pump and fill the air with the smell of freshly popped popcorn corn, cotton candy and other tasty sweets. The delightful aroma in the air attracted and hypnotized you as you followed your nose to the source. In that moment it felt like you went to heaven and was floating in mid air.
As we always do, we explored off the beaten path, meaning that we go where most gringos or tourist do not. We blaze our own trails by venturing into the back streets and alleys. When I see something unique or interesting we veer off and check it out. We believe that if you live in a neighborhood, then one must get out and learn about it. I ask myself, what makes this town tick? Where do everyone live and socialize. I agree this is not for most people, especially gringos to go and venture into no mans land, but its their land, and we love their openness and transparency.
Janis and I are not the typical gringos, we love to explore. It would be unwise not to know your surroundings. As a former cop, I am always aware of my surroundings. I use my so called spidey senses from years of experience as a Detective from New York City Police Department to warn me of potential trouble. Its the survival instincts that I have mastered after working the streets of some of the most violent and drug infested parts of NYC. I do not have that feelings of insecurity or safety and security issues while living on the coast of Ecuador. If I did I would correct it. I am very mindful and apply common sense all the time. We speak to the locals very frequently and their genuine friendless is evident. They told us that when we walk the street they watch our backs. That my friends is a community that looks after EACH OTHER.
Even though we are living in paradise, never let your guard down. Be very vigilant and think security all the time. Guess this would be another blog post I can talk about later.
Big city cops take on personal security and safety in Ecuador?
While we explored off the beaten path, I happened to venture into a dried out water inlet that channeled into the ocean. The dried and cracked up dirt looked hard enough to ride over but nope, my bike started sinking into the thick tar like mud substance. As you can guess, my bicycle wheels got stuck and I was forced to slowly get off and walk my bike out. Janis who rode behind me saw me getting stuck so she never even tried to follow me. Smart move Janis! Soon after, I gingerly got off my bike and lifted my sneakers out of the mud and pushed my bike out. The thick black and heavy mud adhered to the tires and chain. Well, it wasn’t long after riding with all that goo and nastiness that the chain broke in half in the middle of the off the beaten path.
Luckily, Janis speaks fluent Spanish. We saw some locals sitting near the road and asked if there was a bicycle repair shop. No such place in town, however the locals huddled like a football team and talked amongst themselves, looked at the chain and before we knew we were following a stranger that had a solution. His name was Santos, a local handy man. A jack of all trades and knew exactly what to do. He invited us to follow him to his house just a few blocks away. So without further ado, we walked, pushing my bike to his house. A simple removing of a chain link and reattaching a new link is what was needed. Santos went into his house and came back out with another bicycle chain and removed one of his own bike links. For someone to do such a thing was an act of true kindness, friendship and of giving. While he was repairing my chain, Janis and I talked about how humble and simple the Ecuadorians live. Not 10 feet away was a house with a few windows without screens and cracks on the walls. Inside was dark so the mother and 2 of her girls were sitting on a wooden table doing homework in front the doorway where there was light. The Ecuadorians do so much with so little. I am deeply humbled for what I have.
The repair was completed in no time after assisting Santos with the complex gears. Never once did Santos hint at asking for money for helping us. We thanked Santos for his help and gave him a tip. Santos did what he did to help a stranded person without hesitation. I am so proud that I live in a country thats so welcoming and helpful. I can say that Ecuadorians are always there when you need help. All you have to do is ask.
To give when one has so little to offer is kindness that comes from the heart. I will return and this time to give back big time.