La Zona

Having grown up in the concrete jungle of Yangon, I am usually adverse to nature.  But I endured a brisk 30 minute hike down the hill to see the wonderful view of Pilon waterfall.  There, you can crawl into an earthy dark tunnel to reach behind the rocks and touch the falling water.  Without my friends pushing me, I would have never done this.  The sound of water and the feel of rushing water was worth the journey I made in the end.

In Quito, my favorite part of the city maybe La Zona.  Short for “The Red Zone”, La Zona used to be unsafe. Today, it’s a district for people to hang out, smoke shisha, drink and dance, with clubs and cafes in every direction.  I fell in love with La Zona the first night I went.  Here is why.

What is the first culture shock for a Burmese girl in South America?

This freedom.  The social freedom Ecuadorian youths enjoy in a real life setting, outside of a campus.  Witnessing young people going out for clubbing alone is a wow moment to me.  No one judges you for this over here.  Clubbing has a bad rep in Myanmar.  Clubs in Myanmar are often seedy venues for picking up (often, paid) sexual partners or fights.  At least this is what I have always been told but I am prohibited to wander into a club myself since “proper” Burmese young ladies are not supposed to go clubbing in Myanmar.

Away from those restrictions, I feel relaxed here in Ecuador.  The salsa dance show tonight was absolutely breathtaking.  La Zona seems like a cultural hub, where both young and old men and women come together for dances and accompany.  The fact that salsa-dancing is very much weaved into the social fabric here in Ecuador seems incredible to me.  Although I have never been to any clubs in Burma, I don´t think anyone would go to Theingyi Zay or Sofitel Hotel for traditional Burmese dances, the way Quitenas gathered at whatever club I was at for salsa.

I guess what I am trying to say is that my Ecuadorian friends seem to be better assimilating the modern and traditional while many of my Burmese friends and I sometimes get terribly confused with the perceived and real lack of continuity and evolution in Burmese traditional culture.

Thoughts to ponder during my stay in Ecuador.

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