A Guide to Surviving Ecuador

A field guide to surviving Ecuador:

These skills are essential for a good trip to Ecuador:

  • Learning to like rice—or how to survive without eating
  • Understanding the Ecuadorian honk:
    • -I’m bored let’s make some music
    • -I am not stopping, move outta my way
    • GO the light is green
    • -Hey let’s GO already (light is red)
    • honk honk honk; taxi taxi taxi
    • -hmm bad traffic… I bet honking will make the traffic get better!
    • *Keep your ears out for power outages. A crescendoing honk ensemble is a sure sign of traffic light woes and another power outage
    • pretty girl! beep beep, beep beep, beep beep
    • -Just making sure my horn still works—it hasn’t been tested since a minute ago
    • -hi
  • Learning the local slang:
    • -chevere (great, awesome),
    • -achachay (brrr)
    • -taita (dad)
    • -guagua (baby)
    • -que bestia (yikes! wow!)
    • -chuta (dang!)…
    • -etc.
  • Figuring out the bus system
  • Learning to bargain—or forever pay the “gringo price”
  • Practicing your pushing –or forever wait for the mythical empty bus. Once aboard, prepare to shove some more if you ever wanna get off
  • Accepting the dearth of good chocolate chip cookies
  • Dealing with that person sprawled across acres of real estate while everyone else is squeezing you to the back of the ecovía
  • Bringing lots of sunscreen. Bug spray might be unnecessary, though—I have not worn it once
  • Staying alert for pickpockets, thieves or worse. Though to be honest, it is not bad—I have been careful and have not run into any trouble. Most people are very friendly
  • Once I walked into the police station asking for directions to the best pizza place. Learn the way of the locals. Let us be honest, the locals know more than you will ever know about where to eat out, how to get somewhere, which beach is the best—you name it. The pizza was very good
  • Understanding Ecuadorian Time. Being uptight will only frustrate you. Talking to your neighbor or stopping to watch a futbol match is more important than hurrying somewhere to be exactly on time. Carrying everything on my back, never making reservations, and deciding last-minute where to eat or stay has helped me deal with that. Learn to be patient. You catch a bus, and if you realize it is taking you to the wrong place, make that an opportunity to head somewhere else. The culture is different here. Learn to embrace that.
  • Understanding Ecuadorian directions:
    • One day I was hiking to a tree house with a swing that sways over a canyon, overlooking an erupting volcano. It is spectacular though few people hike it—most drive. Along the way, we pass some kids herding llamas who tell us “three kilometers”. After a few hours and a “4 km” sign, we pass a “3 km” sign and I know there are only a few miles left. Your destination will always be “dos cuadras mas” (two blocks) and “aqúisito no mas”—a vague local term meaning right over there. After everyone waves vaguely, “aqúisito no mas, dos cuadras”, you will have walked two blocks for every person in town
    • -They will not admit to not knowing. It is rude not to give your best guess, even if that amounts to a random guess
    • -The directions will not include landmarks. The hostel you are seeking may be next to the only plaza in town, but instead of saying so, your direction-giver will wave in that direction—”aquisito no mas!”
    • -You should survive such inconveniences by using triangulation. Cobble together a mental diagram of the average suggested direction, and determine which way is most probably correct
  • Learning Spanish. Seems obvious, but the number of gringos frantically waving their hands trying to explain themselves to the taxi driver or waitress is unfortunate
  • Learning how to have fun! Ecuador will be miserable if you are the only person unwilling to put yourself out there and enjoy it!

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

Advertisements

2 thoughts on “A Guide to Surviving Ecuador

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s