By Maria del Pilar Cobo
Ecuadorians are generally known for their formal courteousness, especially when it comes to welcoming foreign visitors. Most of us avoid confrontation if we can (except when we’re behind the wheel of car, when we metamorphize into another species). There are, however, a few ways that foreigners can get under our skin and even piss us off. Here are ten of them.
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 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 and the cashier at a café.
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.
And please, understand that it’s sueltos, not cambio.
3. Say that you think we all look like Delfín Quishpe … or Leonidas Iza.
Not all of us wear indigenous traditional clothing or dress as colorfully as Delfín Quishpe or Leonidas Iza. Our music isn’t just the Andean rhythms played in European plazas, and we’re good at more than soccer. And very few of us, even the indigenous, go around cloaked in colorful ponchos (ex-President Rafael Correa referred to them as “golden ponchos” when they were worn by well-healed Conaie spokespersons).
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 doing things.
Although it’s true we are the rightful co-owners (with other Latinos) of the “Mañana Complex’ there is a limit to our patients. Take too long counting your money at the bank, start thinking about what you want to order only when you get to the fast food 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 at a bank, restaurant or business.
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.
Oh, and one more thing that gets our goat. Stop complaining that Ecuadorians close the bathroom door after using the facilities. This is a big hang-up with gringos in particular. It’s just something we do. Knuckles are for knocking, right? Get used to it!
Originally posted on El Matador Network