Catherine! Un gusto conocerte! This was a phrase I heard over and over again in Ecuador, always with the emphasis on gusto – it was a genuine pleasure to meet me. Contrary to how this might be construed, it says more about the Ecuadorian people than it does about my likeability as a person (although I am charming).
I crossed the border into Ecuador at 5am on a dark, but already warm and sticky morning. Going through immigration was a shock to the system, ejected from the dark morning into the harsh fluorescent lighting, to stand in line for a passport stamp while babies cried and a group of teenagers on a school trip shouted excitedly over one another. It was not a particularly pleasant experience, but it was soon forgotten. Back on the bus, I could not bring myself to doze, overcome as I was by the sensation of being in a new country.