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Ecuador Etiquette & Dress

Ecuadorians are polite: When entering a store, or a restaurant or even browsing goods at an outdoor market, it is expected to greet the staff with a buenos dĂ­as, buenas tardes or buenas noches, depending on the time of day, and to say gracias or hasta luego when you leave. Greetings involving women are a kiss on the right cheek and a handshake between two men. In a business meeting and when meeting an indigenous person, a handshake is sufficient for women.

How to Dress

Ecuadorians tend to be better dressed than most North Americans and Europeans. So if you are wearing old, tattered travel clothes and flip flops, you will invariably get some stares. That said, Ecuadorians are infinitely patient with the ways of the foreign traveler and will treat you respectfully regardless of how raggedy your outfit—as long as you aren't trying to get into a nice restaurant, bar or club dressed like a bum.

In the Andes, people tend to cover up a lot more than on the coast, partially because it is much colder and partially because the culture tends to be a bit more conservative. You will rarely see an serrano (person from the sierra, or mountains) wearing shorts off the fĂştbol field, and flip flops are an oddity. Men should never plan to travel bare-chested in the Andes. Likewise, women should never wear just a sports bra or swimsuit around town.

If blending in is important to you, then wear pants more often than shorts, don't wear flip flops; and when going out at night, men should wear collared shirts (no hats!) and women should wear clean, stylish clothes—pants are fine.

Dress outside of cities and at the beach is much more casual, but the same basic principles apply.

Food Manners

Like all countries, there is a certain way to eat all typical meals. In Ecuador, for example, people toss popcorn and fried banana chips into ceviche. Table manners are more relaxed, though, so don't worry too much about them. Tables at casual, crowded restaurants are often shared. When you get up to leave or join someone's table, it is appropriate to say buen provecho (bon appétit).

Etiquette When Visiting Someone’s Home

If visiting someone's home for a party or meal, it is polite to bring a small gift like a cake for dessert or a bottle of wine. Bigger gifts can be overwhelming and the host may feel like he or she needs to give you something in return, so stick with something small. Ecuadorians are incredibly generous by nature and will want to feel one ahead in gift exchanges, so try not to overwhelm your host with expensive presents.

If you are staying with your host for an extended period of time, offer to help out with groceries and bring fresh flowers. A memento from your hometown like a photo, post card or small book will be appreciated. Also remember that, unless you are staying with a rich family, your visit will probably be something of a financial strain. You can make it less so by taking short showers—hot water is expensive—and minimizing electricity use—also extremely expensive. Phone calls to cell phones should never be made from land lines; they cost up to $1 per minute. Phone and internet service in general tends to be very pricey, so try not to run up your host's bill.

Here are some related tips to help plan your trip to Ecuador: Buccaneer Cove, Long-term Accommodation in Quito, Safety, Safety, Sergeant-Major, The Flag Cabrilla, Ruddy Turnstone, Flamingo, Reptiles - Galápagos and Marine Iguana.

05 Sep 2012

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