Deep in the Andes mountains of Ecuador sits a thriving metropolis sprawling throughout the valley. Pink, teal, yellow, blue homes dot the landscape. By law, nothing reaches the height of the tallest cathedrals, allowing the last of the days sunshine to highlight these ornate buildings. The poor live high in the mountains with the best views, while the rich live in the midst of the city for its convenience. Welcome to Quito, the capital of Ecuador.
Amidst the compact backstreets and bustling traffic, you will find an even less settling market. The little stalls go up and down, selling mostly the same keychains, blankets, postcards, clothing and jewelry. Finding what you want isn’t hard, but finding the right price may take some work. Bartering is the name of the game if you don’t want to pay a hefty ‘white tax’. Competition amongst the vendors is tough. Since they all sell the same things, it is important that you grab your potential customer with the best price, or they can just move on to the next guy.
Meet Doris. Amongst the craziness of this tourist market, Doris caught my eye. With her toothy, contagious smile, ornate cultural clothing, and colorful garments, and her less than intrusive demeanor, she had already won my attention. My little Spanish and her little English caused a delightfully amusing conversation of ‘what?!?’ and ‘que?!?’ but led to many laughs and a fun cross cultural conversation. Sometimes the simplicity of these awkward conversations is very refreshing as we only have our humanity in common. We see each others facial expressions and use our hands to convey messages and barter prices. We shake our heads for yes or no and we release our emotion with our smile and our eyes. Sometimes that limitation can be frustrating as well as you try to learn deeper things about a person or convey more complex messages. But through it all I appreciate the fact that we can relate to each other and understand each other despite how different our upbringings have been and the way our futures appear to be. At the end of our 30 minute interaction I left with some awesome Ecuadorian pants and this infectious photo, and she made $8 to help support her family.
These cross cultural interactions are why I love traveling and what keeps me going back for more!
Meet her and 163 other people from all over the world in my book! http://www.facesofplacesproject.com
Buy her portrait here https://www.zamphoto.smugmug.com/Faces/i-nZF9MRL/A