Living in Ecuador successfully means learning to adapt and accept the cultural differences around you. While the culture of Ecuador may seem unique and interesting for visitors, it is a different story when you start living with them. If you have to deal with their traditions and cultural traits on a daily basis, it can start to feel irritating. You might not like living here anymore.
At least, this will happen if you fail to be open-minded. This is a very important trait when you start to live in Ecuador. The people may have peculiar traditions that will surprise you. If you fail to look at these the right way, you might feel offended by the little things that the locals will do. In the same way, you might offend them with what you do.
Since you are the foreigner living in Ecuador, you need to be more considerate of the locals. After all, this is their country, not yours. You need to try to fit in with their cultural norms and traditions. You are the visitor, and thus you have to be the one to try and follow the rules around here.
Know these 5 cultural differences to make life in Ecuador easier to adjust to
Of all the cultural differences that you will encounter, you need to focus on 5 different categories.
Greetings. Let us start with how they greet each other. Ecuadorians are very friendly people. Even if they do not know you, they will say hi to you. At the very least, they will nod in your direction as a sign of greeting. You are expected to smile or acknowledge that greeting. Usually, women give each other a kiss when they meet. Men will also do the same if the woman is a good friend or part of the family. So if you happen to be friends with an Ecuadorian family, do not be surprised if they kiss you when you meet. It is also common for men to hug in public and that does not mean they are gay. They do this to greet close friends and family – so don’t take offense and instead feel honored that they are treating you as someone close to them.
Gestures. The next thing you need to be careful with when it comes to the culture of Ecuador is their gestures. There are a couple of gestures that you need to be aware of while living in Ecuador. This can easily offend someone if you do not know what you are doing – or be laughed at. For instance, calling to someone with your index finger and curling it towards yourself is perceived to be seductive. The same is true if you flap your hand palm up to ask someone to come over. When asked about height, be careful with your gesture. If you gesture with your palm facing down – you will be laughed at. That is usually the gesture that shows the height of an animal. To gesture the height of a person, you do it by holding out the side of your hand with the pinkie facing down. The pinkie will mark the top of the head of the person. The OK sign is also a no-no. A thumbs up is better if you want to say that things are okay or going as planned.
Sense of time. Another thing that you need to adjust to is their sense of time. They can be very slow and you might find it frustrating especially when it involves your business. If you set a time, expect that you will begin after an hour or so. Even local businesses will open when they are ready. If you want a document to be processed, it might take a couple of days before that is done – even if all they really have to do is reprint the document from their files. Patience will really play an important role while living in Ecuador.
Communication style. Do not be surprised if Ecuadorians suddenly talk to someone loudly instead of getting up to go to the person across the room or street. This is common. Gestures and facial expressions are also considered as part of the conversation so you need to be really in tune when speaking to a local to avoid offending them. Ecuadorians also love to converse with each other – even in business meetings. Expect that they will exchange pleasantries first before going straight to the order of business. If you walk into a shop, you will notice that the locals will make small talk before ordering. You will also notice that the locals will answer your question – even if they do not know the answer. They will not give you a straight answer – you usually will make the conclusion yourself that they do not know the answer to your question.
Taboos. Finally, living in Ecuador means you have to think about what is the taboo in this country. For instance, yawning is considered to be rude so try not to do it in public – especially when you are talking to a local. Fidgeting is also considered impolite – both for the hands and feet. You should also avoid pointing at someone because that is offensive to them. Ecuadorians usually purse their lips to point directions. During meal time, it also impolite to leave after you have eaten. This is considered a social event so people talk – a lot. Also, being invited to one’s home is considered an honor. It is expected that you bring something – even flowers when you arrive. Avoid giving marigolds or lilies because they are funeral flowers in Ecuador.
Make sure you are aware of these cultural differences before living in Ecuador. This could help make your transition easier and will encourage you to stay for a long time.
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