The Spanish Experience in Peru and Ecuador

A couple days ago I mentioned how, in my experience, Peruvians are far more likely to identify with their Incan ancestry than their Spanish heritage.  Oddly enough, I had several people comment and say that hadn’t been their experience.

As with anything on the internet, you have to take those comments (and mine) with a grain of salt.  It’s amazing how people will take a two or three day trip to Peru and suddenly think they’re the world’s greatest expert.
For my part, I lived in Peru for nearly 10 years, and am married to a Peruvian woman, and I’ve never met a single Peruvian who doesn’t spit on the floor when you mention Spain.  This is usually followed by how “Spain took all their gold.”
Still, one of the things I love about Peruvians is that they tend to speak emotionally about things and then change their position dramatically. Just because they might be instantly critical of Spain, doesn’t mean they harbor any resentment to Spanish people.  It’s more like a friendly historical rivalry, sort of the way people from Wisconsin claim they hate people from Minnesota because of the Packer/ViQueen NFL rivalry.  We don’t really hate them, we just like to boast loudly about how much we dislike them in bars while we’re having a couple beers (plus we don’t really want them buying land in our state or marrying our daughters…but it’s all in good fun).
I haven’t had as much a chance as I’d like to experience Spain.  In fact, now that I’m a married father getting older and heavier with every year, I think my days of “experiencing” distant places are starting to ebb.  Oh, you can still go and see things, it’s just that I believe I’ve more or less decided on the person I’m going to be, so there’s no longer a need to drink in exotic new locals in pursuit of self-discovery.  It was a good run, it’s just that I’m far more delighted by playing with my daughter now than I am interested in getting dirt on my hiking boots (although I am doing the Inca trail again this summer, so there you go).  
Anyway, the above picture is a building in Ecuador.  I was trotting around a small town and I was just flabbergasted by this building.  I’m not a huge architecture guy, but sometimes places just jump out at you.
It reminded me of the time I spent wandering in Madrid.  The city is a bastion of magnificent old buildings.  Believe me folks, wandering around in Europe isn’t like strolling through a North American suburb filled with paper thin mobile homes and Wal-marts that were built less than three months ago.  When you’re in a city like Madrid, you are in the presence of buildings that go back centuries.  In fact, if you know anything about architecture, you can see entire ages of architectural design played out before you in just a simple three block walk from your house.
Perhaps it’s one of the real problems in America that we don’t have such a wealth of old buildings like this.  Sure, you get a sense of history in Washington DC, but even that’s a relatively young history compared to a typical place in Europe.  I got that sense from the above building in Ecuador (for all I know, the darn place is only 15 years old…but it had a certain grandeur).  If you don’t know what I’m talking about, I think you still have some traveling to do (and a need for it).

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