Posts Tagged ‘Peru’


Hola Amigas ! After more than a month in Ecuador we finally broke loose of Ecuador and are now in Peru. While we truly enjoyed, explored, toured, celebrated Christmas and New Years in Ecuador, it was time to get on down the road. We’ll certainly miss the cheap gas prices (making exploring the country on the cheap), the great food, the diversity of the landscapes and the wonderful people. So much to see and do in such a small country, the Galapagos, the Andeas, the Pacific coast and the Amazonian.

Driving through southern Ecuador towards Peru was very scenic. Coming down out of the high Andes and into the coast provided some spectacular scenery but was also very dangerous as we encountered many areas with rock slides, animals on the road, blind curves and very steep climbs and dips. Just taking it slow and paying full attention to the road and it’s conditions was the mantra.

Seemingly after hours of this type of driving we hit the coastal plain of Ecuador and knew the border of Peru was not far ahead. Not wanting to drive later into the dark we found a campground less than 30 minutes to the border and stayed the night. Awaking early the next morning we made it to the border before 8 am. We had heard from other overlanders that the borders of Peru were now overwhelmed with Venezuelans, leaving their home country for a better life because of the turmoil in their homeland.

Surprisingly we got there early enough to beat several bus loads of people processing and were in and out in a little over an hour. Now on our way to our first camping spot in Peru, things were looking good. We arrived at Swiss Wassi and were graciously welcomed by the host and other overlanders. A great way to end the day in Peru, right on the ocean and a fantastic place to stay for a while. Stay tuned, we’ll be moving on down the coast and more adventures to follow. Peru, we’re looking forward to discovering you.

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Our Perspective

We knew before we moved to Ecuador that we were Gringos. And we have been called Gringos frequently – by store clerks, friends and even strangers on the street. I’ve gotten so used to it, I describe myself to Ecuadorians as “el Gringo” because its the easiest way to describe who I am. In a community of Ecuadorians, the term Gringo identifies me as the 6ft tall pale-faced guy.

What is a Gringo?

The term Gringo comes in a few variations

  • Gringo – for the man
  • Gringa – for the woman
  • Gringita / Gringito – for the child or the “dear little gringo”. This is a term of endearment.
  • los Gringos – the group of gringos

Online forums and blog comments are full of Americans and Canadians who are insulted at the thought of being marginalized, by being reduced to a word.

Here in Ecuador, a Gringo is anyone foreign – from any country. However, the taller and blonder you are increases the odds of being called a gringo. But the telltale give-away is when you open your mouth. Once you speak, either exclusively in English or with the distinctive English accent, you become a “Gringo”.

Something to remember: in Latin American culture, it is common, accepted and even a kindness to give people nicknames based on their physical appearance. For example:

  • Flaco (thin or skinny)
  • Gordo (fatty)
  • Gordito (little fatty)
  • Suco (fair skinned)
  • Negrita (little black)

Two years ago, while visiting Margarita Island, I was driving with a Venezuelan friend. He referred to a friend of his as “negrita” – I was shocked. I thought that it was out of bounds – that it was an international insult. But no . . . in Spanish its common term of endearment. A professional friend, a Cuencano, calls his wife “flaca”. When translated literally means “skinny woman”. In English, it doesn’t sound so nice, but in Spanish it is a sweet expression from a husband.

In Ecuador, people are often identified by where there are from:

  • Cuencano (a person from Cuenca)
  • Guayaquileño (a person from Guayaquil)
  • Quiteño (a person from Quito)

For us, being called Gringos is equivalent to being called Canadian. It simply identifies our origins. It isn’t uncommon to be walking downtown and hear two older Cuencanas say: “Mira – la gringita”, referring to our daughter. They say it with all the love and interest that her own grandmother would. To us, it is a very kind.

 

What Are the Alternatives to “Gringo”?

While most people from the United States consider themselves “Americans”, this doesn’t have the same meaning here. America isn’t a country: it includes everything from Alaska to Argentina. After all, Ecuador is part of Latin America, located in South America. Technically speaking, everyone from Canada south to Patagonia is an “American”.

If you are from Canada or the United States, you may be called norteamericano (North American). At a glance, it is impossible to tell Canadians, Britians, Australians and New Zealanders apart. So just as the the diverse nationalities of Latin America have been grouped (right or wrong) under the term “Latino”, it seems that “Gringo” have come to define foreigners as a group in Latin America. Have you noticed a Gringo Superiority Complex?

What do you say? Are you offended by the term? If you are Ecuadorian, what do you say about it?

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