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Feb '12

To “know” a place

ALFONSO MORALESAt the end of our hike last weekend, we stopped to have a quick drink at a Soda Bar that was on the road home. While there, Abby and I met one of the the neatest and most inspiring people, who unknowingly helped put into words exactly how Abby and I are hoping to approach our time during this trip.  While talking to him, (in Spanish of course) he asked where we were from, then asked what state.  When we told him Texas, his response caught my attention.  He said “no conozco Tejas”.  Literally translated, he said “I don’t know Texas”, which could seem like a valid response from someone who has grown up in Ecuador, but that couldn’t have been further from his meaning.  He proceeded to tell us that a few years ago he spent two nights in Houston due to airport delays – and we quickly realized he clearly not only knew of Texas, but had been there! You see, there are two verbs in spanish that both translate to “to know” in English.  “Saber” is to know a fact, while “conocer” is to be familiar with a person or place. He did not “know” Texas because he had not spent enough time there to be familiar with it.

The subtle difference really struck me, and very succinctly helped put into words our intentions for this trip.  We aren’t interested in seeing how many countries we can check off or how many cities we can hit – we’re interested in exploring a few places, understanding the culture (and the language), and meeting, learning from, and where possible, using our gifts to serve the people.  We want to “know” the places we visit and build a community with the people there. This extended trip allows us the opportunity to do so, unlike any regular vacation ever could.

After 2 weeks in Banos, we’re already starting to see those communities develop.  The other volunteers that we met at the BBQ are fantastic people and we’ve enjoyed hanging out with them and are looking forward to getting to know them more.  We have also met a lovely old lady at the local farmers market who we buy our fruit and veggies from, as well as a new friend who turns out to be the brewmaster at the local brewery here. I’ve even been able to help two local business owners get their businesses better represented online, hopefully driving more business to them in the long term. As we continue to spend time here and connect with the people, we’re sure even more opportunities will arise for us to grow from their knowledge and gifts, while sharing our own.

As we start our volunteering next week we’re excited “conocer” Banos and Ecuador more, as well as the wonderful people here.


1 Comment »

1 Comment » to “To “know” a place”

  1. John Says:

    That distinction is one of my favorites in the Spanish language! I am so glad you are starting “to know” and feel at home in Ecuador.

    Espero que puedes conocerte mas tambien durante del este viaje.

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