communication – ecuadorian style

Yesterday I had the unnerving experience of realising I have been communicating in a very Ecuadorian way – without meaning to at all!

The culture here is that when you have a problem with someone, you go tell a mutual friend, who then passes it on to that person. This is very much in contrast with my “If you have an issue with me, tell me to my face” attitude. I am conscious of staff at El Sendero probably not telling me when they are unhappy about something I do or have done, and I’ve been frustrated by even non-Ecuadorian team members not letting me know directly when they have concerns.


So before moving to Loja, I’d been looking for accommodation. My friend O suggested his friend J, a youth pastor. I met with J, and he said he’d ask his wife to call me and show me the apartment. I never heard back from them, so I assumed they just weren’t interested, and I said so to O. I thought it was a little rude not to even call back to say sorry no, but wasn’t really too bothered about it because I found a place to stay anyway. Later O told me J had said they’d just forgotten to call because they were busy preparing an event.

Then a few weeks ago, I saw J again because I visited his church. I enjoyed the service, and when O asked me how it was, I said as much, that the service was good, and the people the friendliest of any congregation I’ve been to in Loja. O asked if I’d spoken to J, if he’d explained his reason for not getting back to me; I said no, he greeted me but didn’t introduce me to his wife and daughter or chat with me like the others, they were much friendlier than he was. I didn’t intend for him to communicate this to J, but he did, and the next time I saw O he relayed to me J’s apologies and justification.

Yesterday I was looking for a certain church to attend, but I couldn’t find it, and since J’s church was in the vicinity, I went there a second time. When J greeted me extremely warmly (smile and big hug), I knew immediately that O had spoken to him – and I said so. I was even more sure when he introduced his baby daughter, and then presented me to his wife, who made an effort to talk with me properly. They apologised for not getting back to me, giving the same reason O had explained to me; I told them it was fine not to worry about it, that O made a bigger deal out of it that necessary. They said no, it was right for him to bring it to their attention.


I don’t know how to feel about all this.

Any comments, thoughts? I'd love to hear from you :)

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