(WARNING: I wrote this post after being in Ecuador for one week and am posting it late)
Welcome to Ecuador where everything is “Que bonita” and it is more than acceptable to add “ito” to the end of every word in a sentence. I’ve officially been in Ecuador for a week and I am starting to get used to many of the cultural differences I’ve been experiencing here.
A few of the things I’ve noticed about Ecuador:
- Shaking someone’s hand is not a thing here. No matter who it is, you go in for the hug and kiss on the cheek. Complete strangers on the street, the boss, or all twenty of the ladies in your salsa class. It doesn’t matter. Assume you need to hug them before any conversation can begin. And this is not one of those one and done type of situations, it is every time you see them. Every morning when I arrive school I get a hug and kiss on the cheek from each and every teacher. That is about twenty hugs before 7 a.m.
- There are stray dogs everywhere. I was warned about this one and it still hit me hard. It seems like there would be enough dogs for every single person in this country to take in as a pet. They are always around. Even at my school. We have three stray dogs that live inside of my school. I’m still not sure how they got there and who feeds them, but I do know that it is very distracting when an 80 pound dog walks into my classroom when I am trying to teach the difference between comparative and superlative phrases.
I’m also shocked that it is completely normal for these stray dogs like to lay in the street. Cars do not slow down for them to move. The animals are expects to get up and out of the way before they are hit. This really freaked me out my first day in Quito. I swear, the buses get within inches of them before flying by.
- Talking about buses and driving. Holy cow, is driving different here. While in the U.S. the speed limit can seem more like a suggestion rather than a regulation, here any type of driving rule has the same authority as a mall cop. Just a buddy in a uniform to remind them that if something bad were to actually happen there could possibly be some consequences.
Personally, I am a firm believer in lanes on the street. Fast lanes, slow lanes. Really any lanes. Here in Ecuador lanes are just determine how many cars can fit on one street at the same time. It’s a simple equation. Count how many lanes are painted on the ground and add three. There you have it, that is how many cars will fit!
- Street food. This is another one of those things that I was told about before I arrived. I told myself that street food probably wasn’t the best option and I’d rather be safe than sorry, but the moment I got here I found out that in some places you can roll down your window and people will bring you an entire bowl of dessert type food for a dollar!!!! For me, it is really hard to say no to that. So now, seven days into my trip I’ve decided that street food isn’t so bad and that I doubt I will get the opportunity to eat a piece of a pig from a indigenous street vender any time after I leave. I’m just going for it.
Most of these things are pretty simple and haven’t been hard to adjust to. I have no problem with hugging strangers, seeing a puppy when I walk to school every day is pretty cool, and who doesn’t love buying delicious and inexpensive food! I could probably deal without getting a little nauseous every time I’m in a car here, but I’ve got to take what I can get, right?
I was warmed about different signs of culture shock before arriving and I am lucky to say I haven’t experienced anything too drastic since I’ve been here. My host family is wonderful and is constantly trying to make me feel welcomed. I’ve been introduced as “mi hija” to multiple people and I really do feel like another daughter to the family I’m living with. It has been wonderful and I am excited for the next 12 weeks.