Life in Ecuador
The lifestyle on the coast of Ecuador is both relaxing and healthy. The perfect weather and natural beauty encourage early morning walks along the beach and evening strolls along the boardwalk. The friendliness of the people encourages socialization and the plentiful fresh food encourages healthy eating. Before you know it, your mind is clear, you are able to walk further without as much effort, and you have slimmed down!
You will find information on:· Food · Health · Weather · Culture · Etiquette · Meeting and Greeting · Politeness · Punctuality · Business · Dining and Entertainment · Gifts
You will find Ecuadorian culture very social. Nowhere will this be more evident than at mealtime. Mealtime is not only to savor the food, but also to enjoy the company of your meal companions. So if your waiter doesn’t rush to your table, you are not being ignored; rather you are being given the gift of an unhurried meal!
A leisurely stroll to the market reveals an abundance of fresh fruits, vegetables, meats, and fish. Food shopping is commonly a daily occurrence as much for the freshness of the food and to have the chance to socialize! Freshly picked strawberries, juicy, ripe mangoes, bananas still warm on the vine and the tastiest tomatoes are all available for pocket change!
In the evening, the streets come alive with the tempting smells of BBQ chicken and ribs, grilled seafood and fish made with fresh garlic and local spices. Street vendors are skilled at combining just the right amount of spices to coax maximum flavor, while sealing in the juices.
We all strive to be healthier. Here in Ecuador you will be healthier naturally! You see, the towns are designed to be efficient without a vehicle. Everything is within walking distance. Miles of uncrowded beaches also encourage exploration and happy wandering.
Another health benefit, and one which is often overlooked, is being social. Our conscious mind may not be aware of it, but people are better equipped to handle the stresses of everyday life if we are social. What is perhaps more interesting is that science supports this. A recent study concluded that socializing can even conquer and overcome the threat of bad health! In fact, a 2010 landmark study showed that social connection doesn’t just help us survive health problems: the lack of it causes them.
When was the last time that you were truly satisfied with the taste of store-bought produce? You are in for a tasty treat! Because there is an abundance of fresh food daily, you will naturally eat healthier. An added benefit is that because of the climate, virtually everything is grown year round! Because the food is naturally grown, it is packed with nutritional value simply unattainable in North America. It has been proven that fresh fruits and vegetables are much more nutritious compared to those that have been transported for a long time. Foods that are not grown locally and have to travel for days or even a week before it reaches the market lose valuable nutrients in the process. For instance, spinach loses 50-90% of its Vitamin C content within 24 hours after it is picked. Fresh peas lose 50% of their nutrients after a week from harvest. In fact, most vegetables and fruits lose a substantial amount of their nutritional value when they travel for days or are not consumed within a day, you are actually investing in your health in Ecuador. Long-term health is optimized by consuming fresh fruits and vegetables rich in antioxidants and other disease fighting nutrients that the body needs. Eating nutrient-rich foods will help you age healthier, stronger, and makes you more resistant to diseases. Investing now in healthy foods could help prevent investing in health issues tomorrow. All without a big investment from your pocketbook!
For those interested in natural health, medicinal herbs are grown throughout Ecuador. Just walking at the water’s edge in bare feet detoxifies the body and provides “grounding – connecting to the earth’s electronic energy. The most immediately noticeable effect people report from being grounded is that they ‘feel better’. This has been described as a feeling of greater peace, feeling calmer, or simply less stressed. If there is pain present, then often this is reduced.
It doesn’t get better than this. The days start off comfortable and, just as you are finishing your walk or bike ride, warm up nicely for a dip in the ocean, outdoor lunch or siesta in a hammock accompanied by the ocean breeze. Evenings are in the low 70’s and most evenings don’t require even require a sweater.
There are many things that will have an effect on your experience in another country. For me, it is the culture that makes or breaks this experience. From my first visit to Ecuador, it was evident that the people are warm and friendly. They will go out of their way to help in any way they can. What I have also noticed is that family and community are valued over all else. Basic necessities of life are abundant. The land is fertile and the weather mild all year round. Food and shelter is readily available. The less fortunate are treated with kindness and respect. If someone is in need of food at a restaurant, they are given a seat and a meal.
Ecuadorians are hospitable and warmly welcoming of visitors. They respect the elderly and honor experience and authority. Superiors, parents and teachers are greatly respected.
Meeting and Greeting
People shake hands when meeting for the first time. Men may embrace each other with a hug, if they are good friends. Women receive a kiss on the cheek once when they are greeted.
It is considered polite to exchange niceties in social situations. For example, when checking into a hotel, as opposed to starting a conversation with “Do you have a room available?” or “I’m here to check in.” It is common to take a minute to say “Good Morning, how are you?” Use their name and say my name is … and I am interested in staying at this hotel. Can you tell me if there is a room available and what the room will cost”?
Ecuadorians are generally not punctual by North American standards. Arriving 15 to 20 minutes late is considered “on time.” It is also common for “tomorrow” to mean “sometime in the future”.
Meetings start with small talk before business discussions begin. Ecuadorians like to negotiate with one person or team representing your company. Once business has started, your transaction stands a greater chance of success if your team remains the same throughout negotiations. Be prepared to be patient. There are often lengthy delays!
Note: Men will expect to pay the bill at a restaurant. It is polite for a woman to offer, but she will be refused. Arrange to pay ahead of time if it is important for you to pay.
Remember, it will be common that English will not be spoken.
Dining and Entertainment
Entertaining is also an area where customs differ. Guests are not expected to arrive on time for a social event. Arrive half an hour to an hour late for a party. Be prepared for a very late night. Drinks and appetizers may start at 8:00 p.m. and dinner after 10:00 or 11:00p.m. Music and dance will be part of any entertaining!
Being invited to someone’s home is a sign of friendship and should be viewed as a great honor. Ecuadorians enjoy meal times, and the conversation is lively. Dinners are considered social events, and business should not be discussed. Stay for conversation after the meal is finished. It is considered impolite to leave right away.
When guests are invited to a restaurant, the host pays for the meal.
Be very demonstrative in your gratitude when you are given a gift. After dinner, hosts may give the guests a small gift.
If you are invited to someone’s home for a meal, send or bring flowers. Do not give lilies or marigolds, which are considered funeral flowers. Suggestions: pastries, chocolates, wine, liquors or items for the home. A gift for the children is appreciated. American candy bars are popular!
Business gifts are exchanged after negotiations are over. Suggestion: desk accessories or pictures and books, especially those related to your region or country.