The Big Lebowski and the Art of Travelling.

The Big Lebowski inspires me… Evidently it has the same effect on others as anytime I quote a line from the movie in the bar I get at least three people chiming in and giving me their favourite quotes and scenes. Tonight we are showing the movie at Uncle Ho’s in Quito for Monday night movie night and it got me thinking about the movie as related to travelling.

Besides me right now is a book called “I’m a Lebowski, you’re a Lebowski”! In it the main characters are interviewed and asked about the Dudes philosophy towards life. It’s pretty good, just so you know, Jeff Bridges drinks Black Russians.. Go figure.

After reading it I came up with a few of my own experiences about living in Ecuador as an expat that I can relate to lines from the movie and the underlying attitude that they represent. Check them out, add your own, and if you’re in Quito tonight, come to Uncle Ho’s on Calama y Diego de Almagro for a white Russian and a good time!

Look, let me explain something to you. I’m not Mr. Lebowski. You’re Mr. Lebowski. I’m the Dude. So that’s what you call me. That or His Dudeness… Duder… or El Duderino, if, you know, you’re not into the whole brevity thing.

Whenever I hear this quote I always think about speaking Spanish here. It just fits for me in the sense that Spanish has a million ins and outs that I’m constantly trying to master. There is the formal, Usted, which is used in situations where you are addressing someone in a manner of respect, such as an elder or in a restaurant that you just met.
There also is, Tu, which is used in a familiar way with friends, someone that is of a similar age, or as I often find myself doing, as a way to break the ice by offering a friendly opening toward further conversation. You know, in case you like the brevity thing.

Donny, you’re out of your element!

Everyone that travels here is out of their element. That’s why they are here… A funny example of how this my job at an Ecuadorian hangout where most of the clients and the majority of the staff speak Spanish. My job is to bartend and fill the orders as they come from the tables. This involves a simple exchange of the order being called out in Spanish and then the drinks being made.
I still hear words that aren’t being said, run to the kitchen to get a needed ingredient for a drink that wasn’t ordered, or start pouring a beer when a juice is required. It’s funny but tiring… The days that I finish work and find myself going to the local travellers’ bar where they speak English are frequent and I think lessons are on the list in the near future!
Although I get frustrated with the process of trying to understand and function in a country that speaks a language other than my native tongue, I love moments like these as I am challenged by the minute to pay attention and comprehend what is being said around me. As things become clearer I start to realize how much I have in common with those around me. This is like discovering a friend that has been there all along and makes life here more comfortable in the long run.

This is a very complicated case, Maude. You know, a lotta ins, lotta outs, lotta what-have-yous. And, uh, lotta strands to keep in my head, man. Lotta strands in old Duder’s head. Luckily I’m adhering to a pretty strict, uh, drug regiment to keep my mind limber.


I travelled to Ecuador initially with a friend who was almost fluent in Spanish who showed me the ropes when it came to travelling. From this experience I gained the confidence to move here. I’ve found that this has had many, many aspects to it that has made life interesting to say the least.
Just figuring out the neighbourhoods here in order to take the bus is still an adventure. Buses here have neighbourhoods listed on the front instead of streets. This was mindboggling to me as I often would have an address without the benefit of the neighbourhood. The best solution I have found so far is to jump on and see where it takes me…
The same goes for food markets, ordering food at local Ecuadorian restaurants, or just sending someone a letter. If I don’t recognize a food, I just buy it… If I can’t figure out what the menu of the day is, I just order, and when I address a letter, I usually hope that somehow the three line format I put on the front will somehow end up getting the post to the right spot.
As I mentioned earlier, the language has a lot of ins and outs that I am still trying to untangle. There are tenses that I’m not sure of, masculine, and femine forms to words, and of course exceptions to the rules that keep things interesting. Most of the time when I finish responding to someone in Spanish the second I stop talking and turn away, I realize how many mistakes I just have made and think about how funny I must of sounded to the person I was talking to.. Makes for a lot of funny expressions that I frequently wonder what the reasons are or how I prompted them.
The Dude Abides.


This has become my mantra for living in Ecuador and I think is probably the best advice I have for people who are travelling here or decide to move here. Live it, love it, learn it.
As a friendly Ecuadorian said to me when I was sitting at a new friend’s bar while contemplating life of late and not having a clue how to come to terms with it at its recent juncture, nothing’s perfect.
Things in Ecuador seem to operate on this principal. One day someone forgets to turn up, doesn’t understand what you thought was clear, and things go in an entirely different direction than anticipated or even required. These days seem to happen out of the blue and there isn’t any way that I have found to sense them coming or even keep on top of the events except to role with things as they happen.
Working here has taught me that you work on the things that you can when you can and then the next day you’re presented with complications that make continuing the progress you’ve made previously painstaking or just not realistic. The process starts over at this point when working from another angle gets more done until it’s halted by another unforeseen set of circumstances that lead back to the original approach or an entirely new idea all together.
The Dude Abides, take things in your stride and make a little room for that beer at the bar or in this case, a White Russian and a movie with good friends at your favourite local restaurant. We will all live longer and probably have more fun while we’re doing it! See you at Ho’s!

2 Responses to “The Big Lebowski and the Art of Travelling.”
  1. ursula says:

    Spring rolls and a AK47 for me, lovin this article

  2. Marie Chelle says:

    Thank you very much my friend, you are very kind in sharing this useful information with? others…. The details were such a blessing, thanks.

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