Cuenca High Life logo

Expat Life

10 ways to piss off an Ecuadorian

By Maria del Pilar Cobo 

1. Ignore where Ecuador is located, or picture the entire country as a jungle.

Many foreigners arrive in Ecuador believing the country only consists of jungles and thatched-roof houses. Seriously? Ecuador is a relatively small country, but that’s not an excuse to arrive totally ignorant of its geographic diversity.

But sure, if you want to piss off an Ecuadorian, just tell them that at some point

Delfin Quisphe

you thought Ecuador was in Africa, ask if Ecuador is a Mexican state, or if we are all engaged in growing bananas. Or, you can laughingly say that you used to imagine that we all wore loin clothes, or express your surprise that we own cars, have cinemas, and that there are people over five feet tall in the country.

2. Fail to carry sueltos in your wallet.

You arrive in the country and jump in a cab. If you want to begin your time in Ecuador arguing with your taxi driver, make sure you only have $20 dollar bills in your pocket. Or even better, $100s Same thing with a street vendor, the cashier at a café, or a bus driver.

In Ecuador, it’s almost mandatory to carry small notes and sueltos (coins). Otherwise, you’ll be the target of verbal abuse (ándate a la verga), or just be left alone in the middle of the street without any means of transportation.

3. Say that you think we all look like Delfín Quishpe.

Please. Not all of us wear indigenous traditional clothing or dress as colorfully as Delfín Quishpe. Our music isn’t just the Andean rhythms played in European plazas, and we’re good at more than soccer.

4. Trash-talk our family.

Ecuadorians love to be the “mamá gallina,” making sure everybody feels

welcome and is having a good time at parties. You’ll have a blast at any gathering…unless you make an inappropriate comment about a family member. Go on. Comment on how much weight the cousin has put on, or dare say the mom’s cooking isn’t to your taste. Just know that you’ll never be invited over again.

For an Ecuadorian, family comes first. And not only close relatives. We usually throw family parties with dozens of people: the cousins of your great uncle, the mother of your brother-in-law’s father, and so on.

5. Criticize the country.

We feel the same about Ecuador as we do about our family. We’re very proud of what we have: our food, our beautiful national parks, our art. If you immediately start complaining about traffic, long lines, lack of promptness, complicated bureaucracies, etc, you WILL be considered persona non grata.

6. Compliment the coastal regions when staying in the Ecuadorian Highlands, or vice versa.

This is another version of criticizing the country, combined with getting involved in regional rivalry. The Highlanders will be emputados if they hear someone from the coast calling them serranos bobos. In turn, they’ll reply by calling the costeños a bunch of monos (monkeys) to piss them off. So if you want to piss off a Highlander, just tell them you think the food on the coast is better.

7. Take your time.

Take too long counting your money at the bank, start thinking about what you want to order only when you get to the counter, wait patiently for passing pedestrians at the zebra crossing, go ahead…dare take your time. Ecuadorians, in general, aren’t exactly punctual, but we get very annoyed if we’re kept waiting.

8. Cut or otherwise cheat while waiting in line.

You’re waiting for the movies, and you feel oh so lucky because the line in front of you is short. Suddenly, people start cutting in right before your eyes — in large groups! If you want to be heavily insulted, stay in line for a concert guardando el puesto and then, at the last minute, let your 20 friends squeeze in with you.

9. Bring up the rivalry with Peru.

If you have an opinion about the relationship between Peru and Ecuador, get ready for a long history lesson with a considerable load of pure rage about all the land that was totally stolen by Peruvians.

10. Brag about not needing visas to travel.

Ecuadorians need to apply for a visa to go ANYWHERE outside of Latin America. It’s really annoying to be treated as if we all represent a yellow fever threat or are all potential illegal immigrants. So please, don’t tell us how easy you have it in comparison.

Originally posted on El Matador Network on

15 thoughts on “10 ways to piss off an Ecuadorian

  1. Who’s pissing off whom in #8, about cutting in line??? Ecuadorians have line-cutting down to a fine art. And I’m not talking about the disabled and tercer edad… I’m talking about all age groups. Leave a gap in front of your shopping cart large enough for someone to squeeze in, they’re going to squeeze in. I was trying to order some salchipapas tonight, and a 30-ish woman in very nice clothing walked right up and started talking over me to place her order. The girl behind the counter, however, took my order and served me first. One time at the pharnacy someone did step right in front of me (there was maybe a 16-inch gap between me and the window). And when I gave the pharamcist the “look” (like, hey, you’re in charge — why aren’t you telling this rude person to back off?”), she just looked at me and shrugged. Oh, and there there’s waiting in line at Coral, and just as you reach the register after a 10-minute wait in line, the guy in front of you pushes your cart aside as his wife jumps out of the line she’s been standing in, and then also pushes that in front of me. Protesting didn’t help — this guy felt like it was perfectly okay to do what he did. These are not isolated instances.

    1. This practice is ubiguitious in ecuador. I have started saying “por favor, repsete la fila”, just as a way to create awareness. It rarely works, but at least it creates some consciousness about others.

    2. On the flip side, I had only a couple of items once at a Fybeca and a family with three small boys motioned for me to go in front of them kindly, and then the mama asked motioned that her sons wanted to shake hands with me and each did with big smiles. So as everywhere people are people…some rude, some polite and some downright kind….or not.

  2. I agree with J and Mel. Have you tried getting on a bus when the school children are heading home? They will almost knock you down trying to get on in front of you!! I, however, have learned to use my elbows the same way they do JUST to keep my place in line. Mel, this might be why you are seeing foreigners doing the same thing- it’s called self defense.

  3. Maria, do you see anything positive about Gringos? Most of us love Ecuador and her people. We love the adventure of learning and immersing ourselves in your culture. We volunteer, we donate money to local causes, we spend money and invest in Cuenca. We give people jobs. Most of us are working on our Spanish. There are things that are annoying to us as to you but, I feel badly that you have such a list focused on how to ¨piss off¨ Ecuadorians. Maybe could have said annoyed or things that bug Ecuadorians). Do you dislike us that much?

    1. Susan, I don’t think I’d go so far to say that “most of us” are working on our Spanish. Many have taken one or two beginning-level courses, but that’s about it. I personally only know a small handful who have moved on to higher level classes, and who can actually hold their own in a conversation.

  4. In my experience, this is accurate. How about equal time for the gringos…only title it “10 ways to respect an ecuadorian and 10 ways to respect the foreigner living
    in your country”. This way, we understand one another better and can create a better experience for everyone.

  5. Ya, I too saw once saw a tercer edad do that ‘one time’ I think it was – from Texas ! LoL Though uncommon in other countries it is prevalent here and discourteous of others……rude !

  6. I found this more amusing than informative. People from the US (like me) are oblivious for the most part to local customs. Even in regard as to how to act. They’re lazy and make no effort to learn anything about where they’re visiting. I’ve bee to mostly the Benelux region as my ancestors were from the region. Before my first trip I memorized a few basic phrases in Dutch. I knew enough to not wear athletic shoes. Europeans can spot a US tourist three blocks away. I thought I had the basics down and not being spotted immediately. NOPE! snagged first interaction, I was so disappointed. So for the rest of my visit I watched and learned. Second visit I was so proud when the waiter addressed me in Dutch. I’m a guest in THEIR country and I try to remember this always. I joined this blog in preparation for a planned trip next year. That’s why I found the list so amusing. Such common sense stuff. I am however learning that common sense is not all that common

  7. And motorcycles are the worst. But almost any driver here will take insane risks to move one car-length ahead. You have to drive defensively AND offensively here.

  8. I’ve personally had numerous occasions where locals cut in line in front me obviously so learning to hold my ground; however, at the Bank of Pinchinca the regular guard there knows me, greets me and always sees I am next in line for “seniors” and one time a local lady began arguing with him about it and he put her in her place quickly…as I was IN the senior line and next to be served but she intended to cut in front of me. So not all of them respect elders.

  9. A friend who is planning to visit soon asked if we had toilet paper here, I told him no, but corn cobs were just as good!

  10. As far as cutting in lines, if they serve others after i have been waiting, there are 10 more places that appreciate my business. I hold the business responsible and have walked out on more than one.

Comments are closed.