If I had to choose my favorite part about Ecuador, it would have to be Ecuador people.
Even with all the natural wonders found in Ecuador, it is the people that make an Ecuadorian experience truly memorable and rewarding.
Although close to half live beneath the poverty level, most people you meet are happy and generous. The people of Ecuador seem happy that others appreciate the beauty of their country as much as they do.
One thing that may seem incredibly foreign to many is the way greetings are exchanged.
Everywhere you go people say "hi", whether they know you or not. Although some of the younger generation are losing their good manners, the majority of the people think it impolite to pass a person without saying a greeting of some sort. (The number of greetings you will see depends on the size of the city or town you are in. The larger the place the less people take the time to say hello.)
When greeting a friend or meeting with any official a good handshake is in order. Women often greet each other with a kiss on the cheek; men will also kiss women on the cheek, especially if they are good friends or family.
Ecuador people are incredibly patient. Nothing moves quickly in Ecuador and they don't seem to mind. Whether it be standing in line for over an hour at the bank or dealing with a Gringo who can't speak their language, they are polite and patient with very few exceptions.
A few months after we moved to Ecuador, one of my brothers got sick. My parents went down to the pharmacy with their phrase book. (I don't think that book ever left my dad's side for the first year or two we were here.)
The people working in the pharmacy patiently listened as my parents tried to get across the problem with my brother. I know there had to be some laughs, because my parents weren't able to find some of the words for the specific ailment affecting my brother's bodily functions. So they improvised.
After lots of guess-tures, piecing together of words, and a hand drawn picture, they came home with the medicine he needed. The ladies in the pharmacy never complained and probably rushed home to tell about their crazy experience with the Gringos.
It doesn't do any good to try to make things move along faster while in Ecuador; you'll just slow things down even more. Patience is an asset.
Lunch time in Ecuador has no set time limit. Many businesses reopen when they're good and ready. (Government offices and places like banks usually have stricter schedules that you can depend on, especially now.)
Or a bus that is coming 'ya mismo' (which we would probably translate as 'any minute now') could be half an hour or more away.
This can be annoying to those of us who have lived where keeping appointments is a must and not optional. But after a while it becomes expected and forces you to slow down with the rest of the Ecuadorian people. The slower pace makes you appreciate the good things in life...take advantage of nap time!
I've found the Ecuadorian culture one of very hard working people. Men and women work hard to provide for their families. Many have moved abroad to care for their families. In fact, "many" may be an understatement. In years past, visas were readily available to go to Spain. So a great number of Ecuador's people took advantage of that opportunity; many still live there decades later.
A lot of everyday chores are still done without the use of technology. Clothes are hand washed. Food is prepared from scratch EVERYDAY.
That said, Ecuador's people party as hard as they work. Fiesta days are taken very seriously. A party usually involves plenty of Pilsener, loud music and lots of dancing. Such parties can easily go into the early morning hours, which can make sleep difficult for the rest of us.
Ecuadorian culture includes a deep religious attitude. Most people are Catholic. All have high regard for the Bible and enjoy religious discussions. For more on religion in Ecuador click here.
Ecuador people also are very religious when it comes to sports. Especially futbol. A soccer game during the World Cup can completely shut down a whole town - more like the whole country! Everything goes quiet and then erupts all at once when a goal is scored. A win is celebrated as hard as any holiday.
A quarter of the people are part of indigenous groups. They speak a variety of languages and dress in distinctive clothing depending on their ancestry. The Quichua (Kichwa) have made Otavalo famous with their beautiful handiwork. Other groups include the Shuar, Huaorani and the Chachi.
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