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Saturday, October 9, 2010

Who Was That Ecuadorian Goddess?

BRIEF ENCOUNTER with an AFRO-ECUADORIAN WOMAN

It was 11:00 at night when I had just flown into Quito, Ecuador from Guayaquil after an 18-hour bus ride from Lima, Perú. I checked into a hotel and went out to take a look at the city I was going to be visiting for a few days. The area where I was staying is called La Mariscal, better known as Gringo-Landia (Gringo Land). So named because this is where people from all over the world come to stay and hang out. It is a very congested part of town, and on Friday nights, it's like a parking lot with all the heavy traffic. Fortunately for me, everyone I ran into spoke Spanish. My primary reason for my being in South America in the first place was to be immersed in the Spanish language. The second reason was to get connected with the Afro-Latino experience.




Being hungry, I stopped in the first restaurant I saw. Upon leaving, there was a black Ecuadorian male hanging out. Thinking he might turn me on to Quito's black community, I tried to make conversation. He asked me to get him something to eat, which I did. But when I returned with the food, I saw him down the block throwing a "pitch" at some white tourists. Realizing he was hustling, I left him alone. Meanwhile a black woman appeared, seemingly out of nowhere. I immediately introduced myself. I can tell by the way she spoke that she was local, and figured she might turn me on to some Afro-Ecuadorian action. But I got a little suspicious of her vague conversation coupled with the fact that she was hanging out in Gringolandia (La Mariscal) alone at night, seemingly doing nothing. She seemed overly elated that I even stopped to talk to her.

As I gazed into her eyes, I did not get the impression that there was an attraction other than what's in my wallet. I figured she could be hustling or setting me up for a robbery. Quito has a long-standing reputation for tourists being hustled and/or harmed by locals. This explains why I saw so many heavily armed militia maintaining a visual presence in the area. A local Spanish school encourages their foreign students to never walk around Quito alone. I thought of Gloria, an Afro-Ecuadorian friend whom I met through a FaceBook friend; someone whom I was supposed to meet the next day. It was at that moment I said, adios, and went back to my hotel--- alone!

As of this writing, it's been almost a year since this strange encounter, and I always wonder who she was and what was she really about. Was she working in cahoots with the Afro-Ecuadorian male hustling the white tourists, or was she just an innocent passerby? Who was that Ecuadorian goddess?