à propos el guagua

So here I am in Quito, busy adjusting to the altitude and walking my feet off around the historic Old Town. I’m not going to write a lot about that here—this isn’t a travel blog (just in case you were wondering).

Instead, I wanted to tell you about un refrán (a saying) I learned today from Juan Pablo, a guy I met in a shop near the basilica. (Rule #1 of traveling: Pretend you are not an introvert and talk to everyone.) Here’s the saying:

Guagua que no llora, no mama.

The baby that doesn’t cry, doesn’t nurse.

Or in other words, if you need something, you have to ask for it. I just wanted to share this refrán because it speaks to one of the lessons I have gradually learned this summer and fall: that I can speak up for myself. In fact speaking up for myself is a way of caring for myself and healing from the years of not having my needs met.

And for all you Spanish speakers who would have chosen the word “bebe” instead of guagua, just know that this is the Spanish version of the Kichwa word wawa and is now commonly used by all Ecuadorians to mean baby. I learned this from a taxi driver.

Abrazos de Quito, Q.

*** * *** * *** * *** * *** * ***

P.S. Guagua es también el nombre de un futbolista ecuatoriano.



  1. I really like that saying. I had a lesson in that in therapy the other day. I did not say what I needed and waited for MT to figure it out. Eventually, I got really irritable and snapped at MT. She is tough, does not let me get away with expecting mind reading, and called me on my behavior which led to lots of tears on my part. It all turned out well, but it did not feel so good.


    • I know, there’s this part of us that DOES want our therapists, lovers and family to know what we need and give it to us. But it’s a lot more efficient just to come out and say it. I’m sorry though about the pain in your session!

      Liked by 2 people

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