YFU Switzerland

Ecuador, in the middle of the world

Hey everyone,

So I thought I would write some things about the wonderful country I’ve spent more than 7 months in.

It’s some things that surprised me or what I’m not used to. I hope through this post you will know Ecuador a little bit more, or at least the culture and everyday life here.

  • In the streets you can buy stuff everywhere. Mainly fruits and juices. But there are people selling phone accessoires, movies (pirated ones 😉 ), sunglasses and much more.
  • People like to say, Ecuador is where there’s a “tienda” (shop) in every corner. And that is soooo true. Those tiendas are everywhere  and they sell everything important you need for the household and cooking. Plus sweets and often ice cream. I like going to the tienda close to my housewith my sisters to buy an ice cream for 1$. Also the shops here are always open. I think there are just about 2 days in the year when everything’s closed.
  • Food in general is really cheap here. Especially street food
  • When I got here I thought most people live in the countryside, but actually the biggest part of the population lives in cities. People living in the countryside usually are poor farmers and workers living in tiny houses.
  • In general there are quite some differences between poor and rich. Even though there’s a lot middle – class families, I notice the differences quite often. It’s not rare seeing people in damaged clothes trying to sell Lotto-tickets or other things to people with big cars and leather handbags.
  • The country is less advanced than for example Switzerland and people don’t know about the importance to keep the environment clean. Meaning, they let the car run for 10 minutes even though they don’t even sit in it, they throw plastic and other things out of the window and in general don’t really care.
  • Also there are a lot animals living in the street. It is very sad seeing all these dogs and cats looking for food in the garbage bags.
  • There actually are seasons here even though the country is placed on the Equator circle. There’s the rain period and the dry period. Right now (January – May) it’s rain time. That means the weather is even hotter and often more humid. It also means that everything gets green. When I arrived here it was brown and dry everywhere, now the nature looks a lot more beautiful.
  • The temperature depends a lot on the altitude. In the coast it’s always hot, no matter what month. In the Sierra it’s cooler and the temperatures between day and night time vary.
  • There actually are quite big shopping malls that look much more U.S. like than the rest of the country. But stuff there is also more expensive
  • In the supermarkets there are people packing your stuff and carrying it to your car. Also at the gas station you never have to do anything by yourself, there’s people that do the work for you.
  • Family life is quite different too. For example the parents – children relationship. The kids have a lot of respect for their parents. If they want to go anywhere they always ask for permission and if the parents won’t let them, they accept it without even thinking about protesting. Another example is food. If there’s not enough food left for everyone, the parents get the last bit and it’s totally normal. That surprised me a lot, because in Europe it’s exactly the opposite.
  • In general men have a higher position. Machismo is very strong in Ecuador, as much as I’ve heard more in the coastal region than in the mountains. A man would never help in the household, always gets served first and is the king in the house. Often sons are favoured over daughters. Of course there are many families where things are different, but it’s something I’ve noticed, what I find hard to accept. Through this men feel superior and don’t have any inhibitions calling women in the street names or doing other inapproriate stuff.
  • They are very patriotic here. You see Ecuador flags often and in school we always sing the national anthem. Also Football is life, so whenever the national team plays everyone walks around with their Ecuador – shirts. Taxistas, Busdrivers, people working in the shops.
  • Also people are very religious. “Que dios te bendiga” (God be with you) is a very common sentence to say. In nearly every house there’s a photo of Maria or Jesus and you often see people do the sign of the cross after a long car ride, when they pass a church or when something special happens
  • People are Facebook addicted here. They share everything and take photos everywhere they go to put them on facebook. Sometimes that can be really annoying.
  • Also, if you have an appointment with someone don’t expect too much. Either they cancel it right before or come too late. It’s something you have to get used to because honestly nearly everyone here is like that. So often when the family is planning to go somewhere at 9 o’clock, I find myself being ready and waiting for the others, and they are still sleeping or getting ready and finally we leave at 11.
  • But still people here are so friendly and generous even though they often don’t have much either. The majority of the Ecuadorians are very open – minded. In the beginning I found it weird, that people sometimes just started talking to me, but now I get happy about it (Well most of the times at least).
  • Also body contact is a totally different thing here. Already on my first day of school, some girls held my hand like it was the most normal thing ever (I guess for them it is). Also to greet someone you usually give a kiss on the cheeks. No matter if it’s the first time you see that person. Although sometimes you just greet with a handshake. I’m still not sure when to do what so I wait what the other person does.
  • In Ecuador the people selling stuff often call you “amiga” (friend), so don’t get surprised. Other names are Mija (my daughter), mi amor (my love), mi corazon (my heart). My grandma here for example always calls me “corazon / mi amor” and that since the first week I was there. Also teachers call their students that way sometimes and “Mija” (originally mi hija) is often used between friends too.

 

This is a long list I know, but I hope I could teach you some interesting things about the ecuadorian culture.

There are some things I don’t like about it (of course), but still I think it’s very nice how people interact with each other and seeing those cultural differences is very interesting.

Besitos y hasta la proxima,

Annette