Tuesday, March 9, 2010


1. The palm-down hand wave:
This is, by far, the most common thing that Ecuadorians do. There are a couple ways in which they use this:
a) To call someone over. This wave is with your hand near your face, fingers loose facing down. You kind of just wave your fingers back and forth. It really looks like you're trying to shoo someone away. In the US, I would always joke about this wave with my friend Sterling who was in Spanish with me. Someone would do the wave, then the other would stagger back and forth abruptly, stuttering "wait, uh, you want me to, uh, do I go there, uh, you want me to, uh, leave, er, uh," ending with laughter from the both of us.
b) To hail a bus or a taxi. This wave is down by your waist with your whole hand loose (still palm-down). What you do is when the bus/taxi gets close you stick your arm straight out and wag your hand up and down. The trick is to do this for as little time as possible because of how ridiculous it looks. It's a bummer when the bus/taxi just passes and you have to do it again. One time I was trying to get a taxi for like five minutes but they were all occupied. Maybe ten passed. I finally saw one without anyone in it and just got in, not even using the hand wave.

2. The hand flip-flop:
This is made with the hand flat and fingers spread apart. You hold out your hand and flip-flop it (palm facing up, then palm facing down) until the point is made. The purpose of this is to convey to someone that there is no more of something. Two hands may be used for more emphasis. This actually is quite a useful action. The first time I saw it was when I was with Johnny and his family. Johnny and I went across the street to look for phone cards but had no luck. To tell his father across the street, he did the hand flip-flop. What a great move.

3. The whistle:
It seems that every guy can do either a loud whistle with just their mouth or a little whistle that sounds really airy like a bird. They use the bird whistle whenever something is embarassing or has to do with a guy and a girl. Ex: A guy has to pick a partner for something in class, and he chooses a girl. Response: The class erupts in little bird whistles that are surprisingly loud. That's really all it takes. When I went to the soccer game last Saturday, I was rooting for Liga. The other team is Quito Deportivo. Whenever the Quito fans were singing cheers, the stadium was filled with the little bird whistles from all the Liga fans. The loud whistle is just used to get someone's attention. I'm just amazed how many people can do it.

4. Lip point:
Instead of using fingers for pointing, Ecuadorians just use their lips. They just pucker them in the direction of the thing they're pointing at. I remember one night when my old host-dad was driving me home. We were at a stop light, and there were a couple of girls standing outside a restaurant, when he puckered his lips at them and raised his eyebrows, meaning "Check out these girls." I haven't adopted the use of this gesture, yet.

5. Cheek kiss:
When a man greets a woman or a woman greets a woman, they touch cheeks and give a little kiss. The exception for this is during business matters, where you just shake their hand. Sometimes also for really old people you just shake their hand. For everyone, it's normally their right cheek. If someone is seated, and it's really awkward for them to do a 180 degree turn, then you just touch your cheek to their head. Sometimes with women who wear a lot of makeup, you touch your cheek with their ear. I don't know if that's proper, but it seems that sometimes they turn their head a little more than normal so that you don't put your cheek in their makeup. I could be completely wrong.

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