A few nights ago, my friend Tom went out to catch a taxi to go to dinner. The new tram line that is under construction runs along his street and he was aware of the narrow and deep concrete ditch but as he turned his head to hail a taxi he took another step and….oops!, into the ditch he went, with his right foot, striking his shin on the concrete, halfway between the ankle and knee. Then, he was unable to get himself out of the ditch.
But, as happens so often in Cuenca, a man appeared to help but his best efforts were not enough to get Tom out of the ditch. A city bus stopped, the driver got out and the two men were able to get Tom out of the ditch and then into the bus for a ride to a medical clinic.
He was bleeding pretty heavily and a woman got down on her knees, rolled up his pant leg to reveal a large hole in his leg. Another woman had a roll of toilet paper and the two women made a compression bandage. Then, the first woman made a tourniquet from his handkerchief to try to stop the bleeding.
The Latino Clinica was only a few blocks away but it was 6 p.m. and there is heavy traffic from three converging streets so it is slow going. The driver stopped the bus in the traffic lane directly in front of the clinic (blocking traffic, of course) and with the help of the bandage lady they walked Tom into the clinic. They made sure he would would be attended to before they left.
Some stitches, a bandage, a taxi ride home and Tom felt overwhelming gratitude for the Cuencanos who helped him. He also felt lucky to be living in Cuenca.
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In my Spanish class recently, Maria Elena and I were discussing punishment of very young children. I said that in my experience parents often used the words “bad boy!” and “bad girl!” in chastising a child and she reacted in horror.
“We never do that! The child is not a bad person. The action in pulling the ornament off the Christmas tree, for example, is completely natural and innocent.” You may want to correct the action, and many parents will use harsh methods to do so, but always make it clear the child is loved and accepted – it is the behavior that is the issue. This way of seeing people continues on throughout life in the Latino culture.
I would think that this attitude would be followed by less physical punishment, but no. The vast majority of Ecuadorian children are physically punished for their misdeeds, some very harshly. But they know they are loved and their sense of self worth and being “ok” is not taken away. Is this one of the reasons why Cuencanos are so friendly and helpful?
Don’t take this too seriously, my conclusions are not the result of serious study but an off-the-top-of-my-head reaction, but for me it has initiated some thoughts about my own behavior.
Cuidense. And my love. Dave