25 August 2012

Ecuadorian Skill

What the Ecuadorian lacks in other areas he makes up for with one significant and impressive skill. Whistling. Ecuadorians are the most skillful whistlers I have yet experienced. Both men and women whistle with equal facility, a noisy and piercing whistle that brings one instantly to attention. I believe they must start the whistling training very early because I have heard small children, both little boys and little girls, whistle brilliantly. It is a skill distributed widely throughout the country, practiced with equal proficiency by the people of the mountains as the people of the coast.

For the Ecuadorian whistling takes the place of other methods of communication. Instead of approaching and asking a customer in a restaurant if he is prepared to order, the Ecuadorian server whistles at him from the bar. A shopkeeper instead of beckoning you into his shop with a smile and a bienvenidos will whistle repeatedly for your attention. The ticket tout at the bus terminal brings the customers to him with his forceful whistle. The boy selling bootleg DVDs on the malecon need not ever speak. He needs only to whistle at the gringos sitting at the outdoor tables and hold his DVDs out at them.

But often it is not clear what the whistler is whistling about. I have seen fat men drive by on motorcycles whistling for no reason at all. Perhaps in such cases it was only for practice, or to show off a particularly powerful and penetrating whistle.


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