When I first arrived in Ecuador, I thought that it really wasn’t that different from the USA. Sure, there is the Spanish, the Coca-Cola with real sugar, and the appearance of the people….although people here look the same as they do in Eastie!! Well, a few weeks into my trip I have noticed that the two countries are VERY, VERY different! So here is the list of differences I’ve noticed in the last six weeks.
#1 Saying Hello: This is obvious the first time you get together with Ecuadorians. Everyone here gives individual greetings to each other. You look each person in the eye and give them their own personal kiss on the cheek. (Except the men – they shake hands!) When entering a party, a family of 5 will go around the room and greet every single person. I mean Dad, Mom, and three kids will each kiss each person at the party hello. This takes a long time but it is really necessary. It’s REALLY, REALLY rude to wave hello or goodbye to a room of people. They will think you don’t like them and that you are too full of yourself not to take the time to greet them.
#2 The lack of PC-ness: People here say the craziest stuff and they actually believe it. Every group of people has a stereotype and of course the stereotype is true(?!?!). I was at one get together and heard the people there go through about 15 countries or regions in countries and make fun of the people from that place. I guess I am just shocked at how strongly people cling to generalizations here. (By the way, people from the US are all rich, promiscuous, fat (or skinny – no middle ground), completely naive/clueless, don’t like to shower, own guns, and promiscuous. How about that?)
The other kind of non-PC talk is right to your face. “She is so fat! What do you think she eats?”, “Which guy? The one with the zits and the ugly face?”, and “Why don’t you get your teeth fixed?” Seriously. All comments that have been made to me or near me. People don’t hold back here. It’s crazy! People just don’t get offended about those things here. You can call someone fat and not offend but you’d better kiss them on the cheek when you say goodbye!!!!
#3 Differences in the treatment of men and women….too long for this blog entry. (But it’s coming!)
#4 The Bus It’s cheap – 25 cents a ride. It’s privatized – private companies own the buses and create the bus routes. This means the guys working on the busses jam as many people onto the bus as they can. It’s freaking crazy and possible unsafe. The bus drives with the doors flung open. People hang on to the doors and sometimes ride outside of the bus. Every inch of space is used by people sitting, standing, and hanging off the sides. You just have to take a deep breath and shove everyone as you get on. LOCO!
More to come. I am really loving Ecuador because of the differences. LOVE IT!