Few Facts on Ecuador

We have now been here almost three weeks and one week in our new home. After going here and there, I thought a few facts on life here in Ecuador might be helpful. Now these may or may not be gospel, but they are based on my observations and what we have been told.

  1. Unless you are dealing with a bank, you will find that restaurants, vendors, shops, and taxi’s will not take anything larger than a $20.00. If you need to change a larger bill, then you need to go to a bank. Also, Ecuadorians prefer to use the $1.00 coins instead of bills.
  2.  Ecuadorians love to haggle over price and you can generally get a bargain with a little creative dickering.
  3. In Ecuador, unless an apartment building is a high-rise with a designated freight elevator, it is illegal to use the small elevators to move furniture and such. It is quite impressive to see them deliver furniture up 4 flights of stairs.
  4. Unless you live in an apartment building or house that has septic up to U.S. standards, or a high-class hotel, you do not put toilet paper in the toilet, it is put into a small trash can next to the toilet. Most toilets have two buttons on the toilet, one is for flushing liquid waste and the other is for solid. Saves on water usage.
  5. There are no handicap accessible sidewalks, buildings, or bathrooms so getting around can be a bit tricky.  There is a lot of walking, but the sidewalks can be very narrow and uneven, so if you have difficulty walking or getting around, you need to keep this in mind.
  6. Taxi’s can be very small and their trunks are almost none existent. They are good for groceries, but don’t expect to put a large suitcase in one. If you have need to transport a lot of luggage, you need to arrange for a transport van.
  7. When you board a bus and someone approaches you with their hand out, they are not begging, it means they didn’t have correct change and may have put in a fifty cent piece or a dollar coin and are asking for your change. You just give them your quarter and go take a seat on the bus.
  8. Riding a bus in Ecuador takes a bit of getting use to. You board in the front and exit out the back. You need to make your way to the back of the bus before your stop. There is a buzzer on the pole at the back of the bus to signal the driver you wish to get off at that stop, there are no pull cords. When the door opens, you need to exit as quickly as possible and they don’t always come to a complete stop before opening the doors to exit and don’t always wait until you are totally off before starting to drive off.
  9. While Ecuadorians are very calm and laid back and have a manana attitude, that changes when they get behind the wheel of a vehicle. You will see drivers in the wrong lane trying to jockey for position in the direction they are going, pedestrians do not have the right of way, so be sure nothing is coming before you cross and that no one is making a turn into your bath. They drive fast, slam on brakes and love to blow the horn as soon as the light changes. Car horns and car alarms are often joked about as being the National Music for Ecuador. Also you need to watch out for motorcycles as they will weave in and out of traffic and will come in close to the curb.
  10. It is not unusual to see an entire family on one motorcycle. There will be a child in the front of the driver, the driver, his wife/girlfriend/family member behind him and perhaps a baby in a back or front carrier. I have seen as many as 5 people on one motorcycle. Surprisingly, there are few accidents here.

As we progress in learning about our new country, I will provide that information. It is certainly an adventure living here, but well worth it as the people, the food and the land are fantastico! Today we went exploring and purchase 3-shelves for our home. We were able to arrange to have them delivered, but had to ride with the driver. Unlike U.S. trucks, the cabs of an Ecuadorian truck is not made for a six-foot four frame. Watching my husband fold himself into a truck and then get out again is quite entertaining. With me in the middle, I have to twist my five foot eight inch frame a little sideways so that I’m not leaning on the gear shift. Quite the adventure.

Until next time my friends, stay safe, enjoy life and remember that family is the most important thing in your life. Not money or success as you can’t take that with you. Steve Jobs made a fortune, but before he died, he lamented that in achieving “success” he lost the most important things in his life, his family and his friends.

God bless and will talk with you soon.

Hasta Pronto,

Terri at the Drake’s Nest

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2 Responses to Few Facts on Ecuador

  1. Ned says:

    I notice that many of the sidewalks (at least in the old part of town – El Centro) do have the little ramps from the sidwalk to the street at the intersections. Not sure how that all works since, as you said, the sidewalks are not smooth at all! Also, the streets here are cobblestone. Good luck getting a wheelchair around even if you can make it from the sidewalk, across the street and the cobblestones without being run over, and up to the next sidewalk. Oh well, they’re trying. The traffic here isn’t as bad as what we saw in Panama or my experience in Brazil many years ago – at least in Cuenca and Guayaquil. I’d say the drivers are pretty laid back!

    • You are totally on point about some of the sidewalks in El Centro. Definitely not an easy maneuver if in a wheelchair or on crutches. Also, in some areas of the historic district, the sidewalks barely let one person walk or they disappear all together. In crossing, whether you have the walk signal or not, you need to watch out for vehicles turning as pedestrians do not have the right of way. On the streets with the narrow sidewalks, you also need to watch out for buses as the mirrors can give you a pretty nasty bump if they are too close to the curb. Thank you for your observations on Cuenca. Things are changing, but not rapidly. In Ecuador, you take responsibilities for your actions, i.e., if you step in a hole or drive into a hole, it’s your fault that you did not try to avoid it. There is also no suing anyone for your mistakes. Have a great day and thank’s again for reading my blog. Terri at the Drake’s Nest  

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