Ecuador Culture

| May 31, 2015 | 113 Replies


Ecuador Culture

Can I Have Bubbles Please



Someone asked me a few days ago to write a little something about Ecuador culture, behaviors, and basic living practices.

Actually, he insisted that I do it before I do anything else.

He was not very happy with some of the expats that come here and try to show the locals a better way to do things.


“This is how we do it back home, and we know what we are doing.”

“Let me show you, we know better.”  

“Don’t you speak English?”


A smarter and wiser person might know that sometimes you just need to leave it alone.

Let it be, try to blend in, be quiet, let it go.

Close your eyes and just breath.


You just got here. Unpack before you start trying to change the landscape.


Ignorance is what causes many expats to display this type of bad behavior.

They don’t know any better.

Good intention is often the culprit.

They actually think they are going to help make things better for this entire country by suggesting that someone fix the sidewalks, or that more people at immigration should speak English, or that toilet paper should be relocated to each stall instead of at the entrance to the bathroom…


I get a kick out of watching the faces of people who think they are at the front of the line. In Ecuador, the front of the line is any open space between you and the door that hasn’t been opened yet.


I love this culture.


Have you ever seen the expression on someones face when every open space around them gets filled up with people.

“But I don’t understand… I was here first.”

It doesn’t work that way in Ecuador.


I saw someone today at the Super-Maxi trying to explain to a couple of shoppers how they should keep their carts to one side of the aisle so people could get by. I just stood there and watched. It was pretty funny.

Shopping does not happen in 5 minutes here. There is reading of labels involved, and looking at all the new stuff that wasn’t here yesterday. Parking carts to the right or left is the last thing anyone is thinking about.


ecuador culture

Put the Coconut Picture Here


Relax, you’re retired. Where are you going after Super-Maxi anyway?

It’s not like you have a car or any friends yet… (sorry, I couldn’t help myself)


Missy is Very Popular in Ecuador Culture

Keep Distracting Them


And don’t forget to be polite. That is a real big deal here.

Don’t ask “how much”, before you ask how their day has been. Always a greeting first, then ask anything you want.


I mentioned the waiting in line thing above, but cutting into a line is another little subtle cultural thing. Just push your way in. Don’t be shy. That is the way it is done around here. If you wait to be invited into a line, you will be there for an hour.


Tranquillo trumps everything.


If you want efficient, this place is going to send you over the edge.

But if you want to laugh, and smile, and visit, and relax, you have come to the right place.

Stop thinking minutes and start thinking hours.

Two hour lunches are not uncommon.

It takes a bit of time to get used to this, but after a while, you will like it.


And I am just as guilty.


I remember my first six months here. I had a plan that I was going to take a battery powered, hand held, steel cutting grinder, and go from street to street, cutting off all the rebar that was sticking up out of the sidewalks.

Then when I was done with that I was going to invent a portable paint spraying machine that would mix and match any color paint, on location, so that I could help control the graffiti problem in El Centro.

Like El Centro couldn’t get along without my sorry ass.

Grandiose thoughts from this overly processed, ego driven, American (USA) made, good intentioned, brain surgeon.


ecuador culture

Distract Them With Dog Pictures


Now, after living here for more than a year, I don’t see any of those things.

I notice the weather.

I say hello to people I meet on the street. (In their native language)

I bring things to the guards in my building.

I stand at the window of my apartment and just look out at the Cajas.

And I smell the coffee as I scoop it into the coffee maker every morning.

I sit on the floor while the coffee is brewing and I hug and play with the dog.

I close my eyes and just breath.

I listen to my own breath now.          (Yes, I am Yoda)


Does this sound good to you?


So you need to stop before you even start.

Just relax. Slow down.

Give it a few months.


And if you can’t help yourself….

Help at the existing animal shelters. Build upon what is here.

If you want Ecuadorians to speak English, then volunteer to teach them.

There is a lot to do around here. Keep it simple.

You might start with at least making a small effort to learn the language.

Even if you just learn to say please and thank you. (por favor y gracias)

That would be a great start. Adjusting to the Ecuador culture can be pretty easy.



Time is up for me this month.

No time to show you my Hawaii trip.

No time to talk about how difficult times often make for incredible growth opportunities.

And there is this one secret I just need to share…next time.


If you are curious about any of this you should subscribe to this blog.


Don’t you want to be a subscriber….


Leave a comment. I will answer each and every one.

Until next time…

I really do appreciate each and everyone of you.


Tags: , , ,

Category: Living in Ecuador, Moving to Ecuador, Retiring in Ecuador

Comments (113)

Trackback URL | Comments RSS Feed

  1. Ricky says:

    Thanks George

    • George says:

      It is always my pleasure, or in other words, “mucho gusto”.

    • David Jones says:

      I signed up for your blog today and have perused through it. Thank you very much for your time and information and look forward to future articles. I’m 61 and will work on my Spanish for the next two years when I can retire, and ‘hopefully’ move to Ecuador. All I can really say is, “I can’t wait”, for peace and quite, relaxation, warm weather (Cuenca I to cold for me), and nice people (I live in CA). Than you very much again and have a great new year. 🙂

      • Gringojoe says:

        Greetings (Hola) George,

        I have been reading your post…seems like forever..but actually for just about a month. The incite you provide to being an expat and just a normal human, is priceless. I can’t stop reading the post…

        The misses and I have attempted to narrow down retiring to Ecuador in 2 to 3 years max, hopefully, and your perspective has, again, been priceless.

        We are preparing now by studying Spanish and it’s kind of cool that we can practice speaking with each other.

        We are both hospice nurses and the emotional toll along with the physical toll has taken its course. We are so looking forward to something more relaxing that we can enjoy, life without worrying about whether we will have enough money, to live comfortably.

        This dude will continue to read your post religiously to keep perspective in line with reality.

        You may be doing more than you know my friend (hope that’s OK to say that). The misses is from Tasmania, Aus. and she would say, that you sound like you’d be a good “mate”, I agree.

        Sincere regards ( I need to learn to say that in Spanish),


        • Ecuador George says:

          Gringo Joe,
          I am glad to be of service. Stay tuned as I hope to keep on informing the expat community as I learn more good stuff! And thanks for the very kind words.


  2. Abby Jane says:


    What a delight you are to me! I am preparing to move to Ecuador by 1) taking Spanish continuously until I leave (ETA March 2016) and volunteering at my local community college, helping to teach English as a Second Language. I hope these two commitments help me fit in and be helpful in Ecuador!

    If a retired brain surgeon can slow down and learn patience, so can I. Many of your realizations resonate with me and I look forward to more insights as time goes on.

    Perhaps next year, we’ll chat over 2 leisurely lunches?

    Thanks so much for sharing yourself with me.
    Abby Jane

    • Abby,
      I am not really a brain surgeon. But I play one here on this blog.

      Learning Spanish is going to make your life here more rewarding. I know that is what is missing for me right now. My guess is it will be another year before I will have and intermediate grasp of the language.

      I want to speak Spanish. It is in my top 3 list, just under being happy and being healthy.

      Thanks for the comment.


  3. Fiona Patin says:

    Thanks again. Your posts about trying to assimilate into another culture are so true and how some people just refuse to stop being “superior”. It reminds me of A Passage To India by EM Forster and the British creating little Britain with all the class issues, in India. I am British so I don’t feel about bringing this up. Have an awesome month!

    • Fiona,
      Assimilation is not an easy thing. We have all been programed for so many years. I still sit and wonder why there isn’t a commercial during the soccer games on TV. So many times there is just a shot of the empty soccer field.

      I want my commercial.

      It is crazy when you really think about it.

      Thanks for the comment.


      • John says:

        George, your posts are always delightful to read. I’m sorry we never really had a chance to visit before I left Cuenca.
        The real reason for this post is…. Do you really miss commercials during ” futbol ” games? You gotta be kidding!

        Brain surgeon, eh? That’s good. I was an astronaut…. Ja ja ja…..

        Keep the good stuff coming, George.

        Does this count as 100?

        • Ecuador George says:

          I think this might be number 100, or maybe 102, but no matter, I love that you left a comment. And John, I do think we met at the Rosenthal, at least for a few minutes. Hope you are doing well in Arizona… or at least I think you are in Arizona. My memory is not good these days.


  4. Terri McNeil says:

    Hi George.. Your blog entries always make me stop and think, then smile and then have that strong urge to be able to visit you. We love your stories!

    • Terri,
      Get your passport and the old man and come on over. (I am assuming this is the Terri I know from Arizona)

      So let me start again… If you husbands name is Don, then come on down. Otherwise, I would be happy to meet you for coffee… lol

      Thanks for the nice comment. If I can make you smile then that makes me smile.


      • Terri McNeil says:

        Ha! Yep it’s me George, with the old man Don. You may get a visit someday from our youngest Johnny (who’s 17 now!) He’s always talking about how he’d love to travel down there. I think he’s going to have the travel bug as he gets older and is actually able to do it. I’m going to tell him about your blog so he too can enjoy your thoughts and stories. Whatever you’re doing, I hope you enjoy your day!

  5. Marty Cohen says:

    I think Missy is truly superior. No cultural bias about it. She’s a beautiful dog!

    • Marty,
      Missy makes my life better everyday she is with me. She is very beautiful but also very smart and a loyal companion. I will tell her how much you like her.

      By the way, she just whispered in my ear that she wants you to take her for her walk. Can you be here in the next ten minutes?


      • Bill says:

        George, Hello.

        Did you bring Missy into EC when you moved? I have a large breed pooch that I need to bring and if you have experience in that dept., I’d like to “pick your brain”.

        • Bill,
          The rules have changed so much in the last year and a half, I am not sure I could be much help. Big breeds are difficult, I know that. Missy is just under 70 pounds so she slid in at the top of what might be considered a medium breed.


  6. Carmen Mancheno says:

    Muy bien!, ya se esta adaptando a la cultura ecuatoriana. (very good!, You getting used to the ecuadorian way)

  7. Lisa says:

    Great post and oh so true! I think that we go through learning curves, and we realize that we’re all on different paths – some to learn, some to teach (through sensitive ways!), and some of us have learned to relax and savor the moment! Challenges make us stronger, and the most-difficult ones are are best teachers. I think sometimes in our personal struggles, we forget to have compassion for our fellow man… and to remember to say, ‘Good morning, how are you,’ and truly mean it!

    It doesn’t matter where we are on the planet, what matters is that we carry our happiness and best side with us wherever we go. We’re ambassadors for our home countries, for our families and even for our professions. Sometimes the devil’s waiting round the corner and tries to trip us… but we recover and keep moving forward!

    Again, great post!

    • George says:

      I hope that the information I give on this site will help people feel more comfortable with there move. Maybe this will help them relax so they can be more themselves.

      Thanks for the fantastic comment. Glad to have you as a reader


  8. Bonnie says:

    thanks george! we are planning a trip there as soon as i sell my beautiful little singlewide mobile. we are coming to check out the possibilities and yes, we don’t want to change it, we WANT CHANGE, otherwise, why bother moving?? we are in so cal, born and raised and yet, for several years now, i have yearned to just BE there! we would like very much to ‘pick’ your brain in the near future if you wouldn’t mind?? the very thing that comes to mind at the moment is, are there houseboats there? this would be super ideal living for us!
    thanks for your info every month!
    take care

    • Bonnie,
      You can pick my brain anytime you want. That is why this blog is here.

      As for house boats, I have not seen or heard of any but maybe someone else here knows.

      Good luck and let me know if you find any info about living on the water. I would be interested.


  9. Glenn says:

    As I have traveled many countries I too have noticed how some visiting tourists try to tell their guest country “how to make things easier”. It isn’t only Americans but those who want fast pace; hurry up; get ‘er done efficiency. When in Ecuador I had to teach my son about “when in another country we do it their way, we are guests in this country.”

    I wish my house would sell so I can make the transition to Ecuador. It has been on the market for 2 years. Some day I’ll get to the beautiful 0 latitude country to live.

  10. Sarah says:

    Again….loved your post! I’ve just had a couple stay with me for awhile, while looking for an apartment. It brought back ALL the learning curves!! Keep up reminding people of those things…..we forget what it was like to first get here. An additional observance for me was the NEED to ask questions…and expect a hard, fast answer! I kept saying….”Every answer is filtered through the expats experience. He/she may believe this IS the truth,many insist on you taking head! However….take all answers, INCLUDING mine, with a big ole grain of salt!” Everything changes! Hang loose….go with the flow! Learn what is truth…..for YOU, may not be truth for someone else!

    That’s hard for some folks to swallow. BTW, I’ve had some follow up Dr. Apts at IESS and need an interpreter every tiume! I’ve used a young medically trained Cunan fellow…just off the boat and getting started here in Cuenca! Him understanding the Latino culture was an eye opener for ME!! I get there…find the office within the maze, (he pushes me into the correct “.space” to see the doctor and I’m in/out in NO time!!! He speaks great English and is SO competent!! Because he understands medicine….when the doc gives an answer or DX, Rolando knows what question I’m going to need asked…before I do! He’s taking good care of me!! I’m an old lady, with this big Cuban boy protecting me!! ❤️❤️❤️❤️

  11. Jerry Anderson says:

    We have traveled extensively and find many of the things you say applicable to many countries in addition to Ecuador. You are very right about Americans (in particular) needing to back off and not try to “improve” the country they are in. The reason to travel to, or live in, other countries is to appreciate and learn about a different culture. That is one of the main reasons we are considering living part time in EC, rather than joining the hordes of Americans who develop their own colonies in Mexico.

    Thanks for your blogs and your thoughts!

    • Jerry,
      I think the reason for American behaviors is they have been programmed to act and respond in a certain way. They really can not help themselves. They need to be reprogrammed or deprogrammed.

      That’s why I always ask how long someone has been here. Often poor behavior comes from resent arrivals. Very forgivable as far as I’m concerned.

      We all need to help the newbies.


  12. Rose says:

    Thank you George for the informative posts. I’m moving to Cuenca February 2016 and I learn so much from this blog. I feel like I already know a lot about Cuenca (at least how to act):) I hope we get to meet when I get there.

    • Rose,
      I meet with a new expat at least once a week. It is always my pleasure. Just let me know when you are here and I will be available for a latte and some conversation.


  13. Pauline says:

    Thanks so much George, we’ll worth the read…in my old country (Scotland) we never passed someone in the street without a greeting, especially your elders. In my new Country, not so much! hit and miss….better find my groove again as I’m soon to be in Cuenca with my husband for a first time visit…. Can’t wait!!!!

    • Pauline,
      When I first arrived here I found it odd to greet almost everyone you walked by on the street. But after a while, a quick hola and a como esta isn’t so bad. And the smile you get are great. Simple greetings and a smile. Makes the day just a little nicer.


  14. Dale Morris says:

    Amen! Glory! Hallelujah! I get really irritated when I see people planning their trip here, planning to bring all the things to introduce or teach the Ecuadorians the better way. I have been here 8 months, and I say, we need to export the Ecuadorians to teach the Americans the better way! Come to Ecuador, plan to be a sponge, and absorb. Absorb all that is right in the world here. Don’t you ever wonder why we all love it here and are so happy here? It’s because they do it right here. Come on down and live the good life, but only if you are willing to learn, accept and enjoy. I do miss Reese’s cups though.

  15. Scott Simmerman says:

    Yes, this shift WILL take some adjustment and the post is helpful in anchoring to a lot of reality. I have spent my whole like “fixing things” in the role of a consultant and teacher and trainer. Backing off is going to be a hard thing to do, since my focus has always been on “comtinuous continuous improvement” of systems and processes…

    Looking forward to my first visit, in consideration of all else happening in the world around me.

    Have fun and thanks muchly for the thoughts.

    • Scott,
      It was the hardest thing for me, especially as a builder, I have a keen eye for perfection. Good luck on your first trip here. Look me up if you have any questions or just want to have a coffee.


  16. John Roosa says:

    George…another fine perspective put to words…and the photos of the Blonde Beauty beats any scenery of Hawaii………keep up the good work.

  17. Renee van Asten says:

    Hi George,

    My daughter, Soraya, whom you know from Spanish class, laughed ourselves silly throughout your funnest article ! So typical and true. Reminds me of WW 2. Yes, I am a war child, as we in Holland named it. The German Nazies suffered major from the ” In our country everything is better ” syndrome. They would yell at us at every opportunity that “Bei UNS IST ALLES BESSER”. And that is why we laughed a lot throughout the war.
    But I must confess that when I came to the US 56 years ago, I had a wee bit of it myself. However, in my defens, it was, besides horrible home sickness, that I missed my culture so much. Like the special treats and goodies. The beauty of this tiny country, flat as a pancake, with it’s awesome history and architecture. And the whatevers.
    Having come to live in California made the culture shock permanently. Seeing, through my blue peepers, the shallownness of the locals. Ending up living in Hollywood made things worse as those locals are the epitome off shallow. So here I am, still homesick but having made piece with it, however reluctantly, due to no having no choice to go back. The EU Union is an enormous failure and sinking rapidly also. But thank heaven I never, ever said: Bei uns ist alles besser.
    We just recently got rid of our co-renter. Your not that typical of a Southern gent, he thought he was, and who daily expressed the Ugly American statement of…….Bei Uns…etc ! In multipal doses a day. Thank heaven for his return to his precious Virginia. So much for that !
    Now, again I do confess, that I thought I had landed in hell all over California, while back home, my friends and family thought for sure I had landed in Heaven in the form of Hollywood films, and was the luckiest girl of our Nation ! Poor people had not idea what the ugliest city on the planet looked like or what kind of people crawled in and out of one’s life there. Holy Macaroni, the memories alone make me shiver me timbers !
    We sure like this country and find their habits very interesting. Annoying sometimes, but a huge improvement over California. Where, during my days there, was the center of Crudeness, Rudeness and Lack of Respect, especially us women.
    So this is the view through those blue peepers. Maybe things there have improved some since the 1960 th. Would be nice. My guess is that you, from the Bay area, had better experiences, having family there also for giving the feeling of belonging, nurturing and protection.
    But many things here are not even annoying, just different. What is, is their idea of promptness. Or shoddy work ethics. Or, this is a biggy though, their ideas of ripping off the foreigners. But that is all over the world where poverty is still visible. And I have lived for almost 4 years in the Far East, so I am used to this maddening habit.
    Anyway, I just wanted to let you know how fun and informative your musings are and very much appreciated also. Hope to meet you one day. We just moved into our second house, to improve the temperature and bigger windows with much light. The first house was a bkack mold trap and send me off to a yuckie 2 week adventure into one of the local clinics. By the way, the medical profession here, including their medical equipment, are far, far, superior to what we left behind. And Santa FE, NM, is consider soooo upscale in everything but the local medical neglect from there is now showing it’s ugly head. Oh well, it is what it is ! Even though, I am thoroughly !!!!!! off !
    So, Viva el Cuenca and full speed ahead ! Thanks for being such a good Neighbor George. Be hugged, Renee.

    • Wow Renee,
      I loved you comment. I would love to meet you and see your daughter again. Email me and we will meet for coffee. You are a hoot and I would love to meet you.

      I am serious.


  18. P J Creasey says:

    Yep, you are getting it. I admit, when you first moved here I smiled at some of your posts, hoping time would teach you more than anything I could say would. We are all still learning and the best part for me is learning to enjoy the life I have been given here. Keep on smelling the roses.

    • P J,
      Are you trying to tell me I didn’t get it right away?

      I really did try. I had read about and talked to people about the culture but until you are here, you just don’t get it.

      Yesterday I just sat and watched people playing in the park. I watched for an hour with the dog. Some old lady walking by me just stopped and was watching me watching the people in the park.

      When I finally turned around and looked at her she just smiled, gave me a thumbs up, and then walked away.

      Good stuff.


  19. Jim Whitman says:

    I have lived here since retiring from the USAF in 1988. Your philosophy of ‘learning to live’ peacefully is spot on. I spent a few years trying to adjust, most of it while managing a very large Colegio Americano back in early 1990s. The frustration trying to get anything done almost put me in the hospital. I didn’t die, I learned to calm down and understand the sayings like “asi es,’ ‘no se malito,’ and elbows in the lines. Now, the only thing to survive is the driving habits in a very overcroweded Guayaquil. My solution is run to Playas every weekend possible. We always have to remember, WE are the guests in Ecuador. OH, and another way to stay calm is never read the local newspapers and also remember that gossip is most common and should be ignored.

    • Jim,
      Glad you were able to adjust. Traffic can be bad in Cuenca too. Just go with the flow. The nice thing is you are never late in Ecuador because no one is ever on time here.


  20. Anne Luyster says:

    Thanks for these words George. There is a group of ex-pats in my town who think they should go in a group to new restaurants and tell the owners what food they should serve, what décor they should have, etc. They have good intentions in that they want to help the owner be successful, but don’t understand how demeaning and offensive that would be. I am so glad you brought up this subject.

  21. Rebecca says:

    Great post! And love the Missy and friends pics always. You can distract me with Missy any day. Miss you guys! Love to you all.

  22. Sheila says:

    Hey George! After a month here, we’re slowly learning. I get out a bit more than Harvey, but we’re both relaxing and enjoying our retirement. It was great finally meeting you today and hope to see you again soon! Love the pictures of Missy!

  23. Sandra Gregg says:

    Hi George,

    Excellent post!!!
    Thanks for giving us something to look forward to as we continue to work towards escaping the “rat race” and enjoying the years that we have left.

    Best wishes,


  24. Carl says:

    Like your thoughts.
    Listen, I was in Ecuador 2 yrs ago for about a month.
    During that time I traveled from Quito to Cuenca to the coast and north almost to Esmeraldas (ciudad) and back staying at various towns.
    I’m interested in starting a small coconut farm approx. 8Ha. on the coast or near same.
    Do you have any contact or know where a venture of this nature could happen. I’d conceder buying an existing farm. I know I’d need a local to go into business with, they could be the caretaker. I liked Cojimies (sp) area.
    Any consideration would be appreciated.

    Thanks in advance,

    • Carl,
      I wish I could help you. The only Real Estate people I know on the coast are in Bahia. Sounds like you are looking much further north. Good luck and please be careful.


  25. Vicki Kielas says:

    Ha! I totally relate to your post George! After awhile, you do start to figure out how things work here..and it would have helped to read this 2 yrs ago ( just shy of) The whole “but I was first…mentality runs deep. Loved the mention of the protruding and completely unexpected metal posts~~I am still healing from a header I did 2 months ago over one of those suckers. We bought a hand saw to take care of it…wrong. It would require something with great, sharp teeth that also plugs in. ( and why, by the way, do they leave them at all when they are going to the trouble of taking them down, I ask myself? We love it here, too and have learned many a lesson in patience. How many times a day do we say to one another..”it’s Ecuador!” Thanks for your post, George. Glad you’re back.

    • Vicki,
      How about those trash cages on the walls. I have smacked my head on those things a few times.

      Gotta keep you eyes open and pay attention to everything.

      Nice to be back.


  26. bo says:

    Great minds think alike. I, too, was going to buy a grinder and cut down all those little steel nubs that populate the street. (I was perilously close to doing just that the day I was sightseeing and walking at the same time and tripped over one of those little buggers)

    As always a good post. Now if we all just incorporate some of this wisdom.

    Best of all to both you and Chad.


  27. Tom Gallagher says:

    Hi George,
    Thanks again for a great insight. Looking forward to the experience. BTY did chordie Help? Good luck with the Ax.

  28. Suzi says:

    George, I always enjoy your blog. My husband and I have been in different parts of Panama for about a year now and this entry could easily be about Panama and I’m sure many other places too. We will get to Ecuador one day and look you up. Keep the posts coming. It’s always great to hear about other people also slowing down and enjoying life.

    • Suzi,
      Interesting how you are saying both cultures are similar. Maybe it is like this in all of South America and Central America.

      It is good to be slowing down a bit. Contact me when you are in Cuenca. Love meeting new people.


  29. Dylan says:


    I quite simply love your column. I lived in Ecuador for a year building a home, and have to agree with everything that you have posted. Its up to us to acclimate ourselves to the Ecuadorian culture, not the other way around.


    • Dylan,
      We really do have to make adjustments when we move, but not so many that we lose our own way of doing things. I am not Ecuadorian, but I can learn their ways and adjust accordingly. I still have a hard time cutting into a line, but I’m working on it.


      • Daniel says:

        Hi George:
        I am new to the idea of retiring in Ecuador. It only took a few days to stumble onto your blog. So glad I did. Now I know I am not the only one who likes to share thoughts with the world on any little topic. I love it and I think I love Ecuador. But can you give more detail on how people cut into lines. Can you just cut in right at the front for example? People in Canada are tolerant enough but cutting in line is a definite faux pas.

        • Ecuador George says:

          Daniel, they fill in and space that is available. So if you are the first on in line but there is room to either side of you, that area will be filled. And if you want to join into a line, just push your way in. Its just a cultural thing. George

  30. steve says:

    ty for the great post haven’t been to EC yet but planning 2b there towards end of the yr I’m going to have to learn to have patience right now I’m in no hurry but I’m not very patient either thanks for the heads up when in Rome do as the Romans do

  31. Sharon says:

    Thank you for your wisdom and Missy giving us her best smiles.
    Can we imagine our fellow Ecuadorians trial by fire while visiting or newly living in the USA and what they must think of our ‘culture’??or lack of manners, toxic food, road rage, filling big homes with more stuff, disconnected families, the big push to get ahead….just sayin’.

    • Sharon,
      You are absolutely right about the differences in our cultures and how it would be just as big a challenge for them in the states as it is for us here in Ecuador.

      I am not sure one is better or worse than the other though. I have seen some pretty bad behavior out of the locals here. If you want to see it all in one place, just attend a soccer game.

      But all in all, with a little patience we should all be able to adjust just a little without losing our own identity. I came down here to live with the Ecuadorians, not to become one.


  32. Mariuxi Mansfield says:

    pretty funny and so true….. after 10 years of been married with a gringo, he understood that “we”ll be there at 7pm” could be between 7 and 8, and it is OK; that you can eat mash potatoes with rice, and it is OK; I think the most difficult thing to do is to “talk straight to the point”. Americans go straight to the point. We don’t. We talk like an essay to say something…. but that is OK too…:)

    • Mariuxi,
      How true. I was just thinking about the standing in line thing and what would happen in the states if someone cut into line or filled in the space in front of you. A riot would break out for sure.

      But in reality, 1st in line, or 10th in line, you are still going to get where you are going within seconds of each other.

      Had a three hour lunch a few days ago and now know more about a new friend than I know about most of my family…


  33. Luther says:

    Hey George. I too live in Cuenca and loved this article. On another note, I have gotten much better at estimating how much toilet paper I will need *before* going in a public bathroom (another Yoda skill I suppose). Who would have thought!

    • Luther,
      That toilet paper comment is very funny. It is a skill tied to how much your stomach is growling just before you go.

      It is not a bad idea to have a little extra folded in the back pocket of your jeans either. Just in case…


  34. Les says:

    Hi George and thanks for this post. I love it. We experienced the same assimilation to a more relaxed pace when we moved to Mexico in 2005. Now, we live back in Dallas, Texas, USA… at least for now. Who know when and where we may end up again! We’re looking forward to our Ecuador tour vacation in August.
    Les and Casey

  35. Catherine says:

    We left Cuenca last August after a months stay and I still miss not being there. We are in the process of getting rid of 47 years of stuff I thought we needed. We are coming back with 6 suitcases and plans for starting our new life in a place we love. We started learning Spanish but plan on enrolling in a school in Cuenca so we can learn how to not only speak Spanish but to read and write Spanish. We have traveled all over the world and never found a place we wanted to stay as much as Cuenca. We can’t wait to get back to make it out home. Also, out pictures get a good laugh when we show a picture of the Super Maxi store to our female friends. Keep publishing for all to understand why try to change something you loved in the first place. We will be seeing you soon in Cuenca.

    • Catherine,
      The language has been my biggest challenge. But it is coming very slowly, but I see progress.

      Please look me up when you get here. I would love to have a coffee with you.


  36. Joy Brandt says:

    Well put George. I always enjoy reading your posts. I’m now back in the U.S., but your blog makes me smile and feel warm fuzzies for Cuenca!

  37. Marcie says:

    You’ve come (or gone!) a long way Georgie!!! I love your writing…more please.

    • You know Marcie,
      You are a very special friend. Have i ever told you that.

      Thank you so much for all the encouragement you are always giving me. It means everything to me.


  38. Al T. Moreno says:

    George, I totally agree with your article, not only was it funny but also informative. In the end the ultimate goal is to learn from each other and have fun doing it! Relax you’ll live longer.

    • Al,
      I am doing my best to fit in.

      It has always been my opinion that you should not have to lose yourself or your cultural history while adjusting to a new cultural experience. I am not an Ecuadorian, and I never will be. But I can learn the language, and I can try to understand the different nuances of this new culture.

      But I will never give up my Hawaiian shirts.


  39. Rob Hertzenberg says:

    Right. On. Point.

  40. Len A says:

    After reading this blog I showed it to my wife, we both are looking forward to “listening to our breathing” and taking in Ecuador and her people as it should be. Our arrival date is getting closer, we are just waiting to hear from the local consulate here in AZ to get our Visa’s. We agree it is important to learn the language, we are learning Spanish online and having fun, laughing at our trying to role our r’s. At least we can order coffee and wine in Spanish “me gustaria un poco de cafe (vino) por favor”. Thank you for this information it is helpful.

    • Len,
      You are in the challenging phase of the adventure, and as I look back, as difficult as it was, it was fun in a weird sort of way.

      Enjoy the ride and see you when you get here.


  41. Joanne says:

    As always George … maravilloso! Muchas Gracias.

  42. Kim Brown says:

    Thanks George, I need that! Been here 8 months now. It has been a big adjustment, some days are better than others. Going from working full time to retired and in another country. Subscribed and looking forward to reading more.

    • Kim,
      Please friend me on Facebook if you haven’t already. I would love to meet for coffee and just get to know each other. The first year can be difficult. Seriously, I am usually having coffee with one or two new expats every week. And I am not selling anything either.


  43. Kim Brown says:

    Really what I want to say George was were you in Supermaxi when that lady with the overflowing cart pushed me out of line with my measly 15 items? Yes, I admit, that is my biggest problem here. The lines. I need to be pushy, but it ain’t my style. Anyway, thanks again and maybe with your blog I can learn to deal with it.

    • Hi again Kim,
      Here is what I do. I never plan more than one thing a day, maybe two. So, I might stop at the bank to get a little money, then walk over to the market to shop.

      So, this could take 2 hours or it could take 4 hours. And I go slow, I sit down while on my walk and just people watch for 20 minutes. I walk into a small furniture shop to look around, or the pet store, or have an ice cream along the way.

      So now when someone cuts in front of me I actually smile at them, take a little step back, and enjoy the show. I just don’t care anymore. I have the luxury of having all the time in the world.

      It will take some time but I know you can do it.

      Have fun Kim,


  44. Rex Ageton says:

    Hi George, maybe we could get this blog handed out at every immigration station when the passport is stamped and handed back. It is right on. You probably need to BOLD and UNDERLINE the part about starting every conversation, no matter how small with pleasantries, e.g. (Buenos dias, com va su dia? pause, pause, pause then your question). I find it works in the US too. Clerks are generally shocked and pleasantly surprised when you engage them in a real conversation. Keep up the good work!

  45. Bill says:

    Hola Jorge! Como esta used? Great article, as usual.

    Hey, I am coming to Cuenca between June 17-July 7 and would enjoy meeting you and Rob for coffee or almuerzo. Would love to discuss your takes on Cuenca as it will be my retirement scouting trip. Also, do I need to use a money belt in Cuenca or do I just put my wallet in my front pocket? Finally, is it safe to walk around at night or should I take the bus and or cab home. I will be staying with a host Ecuadorian family from Simon Bolivar Spanish School.


  46. Warren Light says:

    Hey, George,
    I enjoyed our visit at Rob’s a couple of weeks ago. Good party. You are correct about the futility and the outrageous attempts some expats make trying to ‘improve’ Ecuadorian behaviour. I have had nearly three years here in Cuenca to get that out of my system. The only thing that bothers me now is the traffic that tries to run me over when I am crossing the street in a cross-walk. Even when I am with a crossing light. Nothing else bothers me much any more. Still learning Spanish. That process may become a lifetime endeavour. BTW, when walking my dog, the traffic always stops for us.
    Thanks a lot for your blog. El gusto es mío.

    • Warren,
      I had to think back and lucky for me this time I remember Rob’s party. My memory is quickly fading and it used to be just names but now it is beginning to be faces.
      Guess that happens with age…
      You are right about the traffic. They seem to speed up to see if they can hit you. Crazy around here.
      Every once in a while someone does stop and lets me by and I am dumbfounded.
      I am still undecided as to whether I should buy a bike. I here it is very dangerous, even more so than walking…
      Hope we don’t scare anyone away…

      Thanks for the comment Warren.


  47. Heidi says:

    I guess I am a quick study-at least about the lines.
    I made my boots on the ground trip in December 2014. Arrived in Guayaquil at 4:30 a.m. After about a 20 hour trip. Baggage claims was unreal, hundreds of us, most with tons of luggage and many with Christmas gifts,too. Like a good Midwestern girl I searched in vain for the end of then line.
    Eventually, I figured it out–there is no line! First lesson accomplished before I left the airport. Had a wonderful trip and will be arriving
    late this summer for good. Can’t wait to meet you, I’m the one that posts the saucy replies to your Facebook posts.

  48. Sean says:

    Thanks for this great blog.

    My partner and I are heading to Ecuador and will be spending a month in Cuenca. We’ve never been before, so your blog has helped open our eyes to what we can expect.


  49. Robert says:

    Very well said, Jorge. Keep up the good work.

    • Ecuador George says:

      Thank you Robert, and thanks for the nice comment. Hope you will continue to read and comment when you are inspired. And thanks for taking these comments into the 100+ range.


  50. SUSAN says:

    Hey there Dr. George!
    I admit, I live for your e-mails! Loved this one! What the hell is the matter with us Norte Americanos (I’m Canadian)?? Why is it we think we have the answers to all that is “wrong” with Ecuador? I felt very guilty the first time I was in Ecuador. I thought that I had so much and that they had so little – DUH!!! After my second trip I realized that Ecuadorians really had a lot and there was probably something I could learn from them, like how to relax, chill out and not make everything such a big deal. I love the shopping cart “problem” and if you can give lessons to Ecuadorians on how and where to park the dam thing you might want to start with grocery stores here as no one seems to know that there is a grocery cart etiquette – LOL.
    What an arrogant bunch of control freaks we have turned out to be. We travel to Ecuador to get away from all this stuff and then try to implement “new rules” there. Believe me when I say that walking the malecon on the beach is a trip! I always tell people back home how the railing is only on the sea-side and that the 6 – 8 foot drop on the street side is without the railing. They are outraged – how could this be – what about the children – what if an elderly person falls off the malecon – and the list goes on….. I just laugh and laugh but I do make sure that I walk on the railing side as it would be my luck to fall off the other side! Live, love, laugh….. Thank you George for your wonderful blog!

  51. Gil Fleming says:

    my wife and I want to visit Ecuador
    For a month this year. we want to visit Cuenca, Manta..and where else? after leaving Marta, should we go north up the beach? Or south?

    • Ecuador George says:

      I think if this were my first time here, I would fly into Guayaquil and then spend 7 days going up the coast and then connecting in Quito. I would want to visit Salinas, Montanita/Olon, Puerto Lopez, and Manta. Once you get to Quito, spend a couple of days there, maybe do a tour to the Amazon for a couple of days or more. Maybe visit Otavalo Market, or La Mitad del Mundo, and maybe a small town like Cotacochi. Google all these places.

      Then make your way to Cuenca. You will probably like it here as many Expats do. You should be able to find at least 2 weeks worth of things to do here. Hike or fish in the Cajas, take the city tour bus, or just walk around the central city area. Google things to do in Cuenca Ecuador. Lots of day trips and overnighters.

      Good luck and have a great stay my friend.


Leave a Reply