The past week has been really interesting as it feels like my life is coming full circle.
In 2010 I wrote the post The Difference Ten Years Makes about how much I had changed from my time in the Philippines to Central America.
Now in the Galapagos when things happen I have fond flashbacks to my time in the Philippines as island life has many similarities.
SO much rice
Meals come with two scoops of rice! I can never eat all of it and I don’t know how they do it.
Not enough veggies
You have to go to a tourist restaurant if you want a spinach salad. Otherwise you will get potato and if you’re lucky a bit of carrot.
It is why I have started making green smoothies at home for breakfast and sometimes I bring a baggie of broccoli or spinach to throw in my soup.
It’s more efficient to get other people to do some things (laundry)
It seems that in the Philippines you are either a helper (servant) or you have one. There is no in between.
I really struggled with it in Cebu and only agreed to have one come weekly to clean and do my laundry.
She worked for a ridiculously low wage and when I moved back to Canada I left her a basket of most of my belongings like my walkman knowing that she would either want them or could sell them.
I don’t have a helper here but traveling in Latin America it is far more practical to drop off your laundry than to do it yourself. Here it is $1/pound and I have two pounds of clothes.
The Philippines had fire ants so fierce that for months after leaving I would swipe my arm every time my skin twitched.
Here the ants aren’t so vicious but I do find myself constantly flicking them off me.
If you live in a tropical region you have cockroaches, it’s not a sign of an unsanitary place it is simply part of life.
The first time I saw a cockroach it was the night I arrived to my apartment in Cebu with so much jetlag I wanted to vomit.
I turned on the light in the kitchen and saw two cockroaches scurry away. Then I turned on the light to my bedroom and another gigantic one scurried into my bathroom.
I threw a bathmat on it and stomped on it. I flopped on my bed in the fetal position, prayed they could not climb beds and passed out.
Here in the Galapagos they are much smaller, slower and afraid of me although I have seen one on a wall which really scared me.
I usually see one a day and after killing the first two my sister reminded me about karma and since then I have just let them be.
No hot water
Fortunately here I have an electric heater but that is a luxury. What is unfortunate about it is that it stopped working yesterday.
You may have had banana or passionfruit at home but there is nothing like having it fresh.
Great food in the street
You will never be hungry if you know where to go. Head first to the market for traditional Ecuadorian food and there are always lots of vendors, need an afternoon snack?
So do Ecuadorians so at 3pm you can find meat on a stick or empanadas.
In the Philippines I had tons of people walk by me calling me Americana (I tried to explain I’m Canadian but they didn’t care) and there was such a strong desire for youth to mimic the American culture.
Television and movies warped their vision on what the US is really like and unfortunately how many people perceived me.
In Ecuador it’s not necessarily that they want to be American but American brands are everywhere with knock off Abercrombie and Fitch, music and American television with subtitles.
I’m normal height!
Other than people who have family from the Coast, everyone is around my height.
I am beautiful
This is true for most of Latin America not just Ecuador but it also happened to me in the Philippines. People would just tell me I was beautiful, it wasn’t always young men, occasionally it was old women or children.
There is less stigma with commenting on a person’s looks. Oddly enough people will also freely speak if they think someone is fat.
I’ve heard friends joke about each other here and in the Philippines (when I was 23) a 50 year old man that I was working with told me I was too fat for his liking.
Thankfully that has not happened to me here…yet.
I know the Galapagos and Philippines are different but something feels familiar and I like it.