Culture in Ecuador

If you're unsure about what exactly it means to be a volunteer, then this article will help you clear-up any confusion. And if you do not know what it means to be a volunteer IN ECUADOR, then it will help you even more! Here are some important characteristics to better prepare you for your landing in Ecuador.

So you want to volunteer in Ecuador? We advise that you don’t go to Ecuador if:


... you like punctuality!

If appointments or plans in Ecuador actually happened at the time scheduled then you have either witnessed miracle or it was an international flight. Otherwise, everything will just take more time, because this is part of the South American mentality. Here everything runs at a relaxed, slower than slow pace. At times the blame for the delay may be put on the sudden rain or halting traffic. However, most times excuses aren’t even attempted, as if time is unimportant. At first this may be slightly annoying and certainly unusual, but after a while you will notice that it can have its good side. Perhaps while waiting on someone at the bus stop you come across a nice woman from the market and strike up a conversation and suddenly you are trying various unusual tropical fruits you may have never tried otherwise. Or maybe, while you have been waiting for what seems like an eternity on your girlfriend, you chat with the waiter about the weather forecast and before you know it, you're getting advice on things to do and places to go where it’s not raining.

Everything will just take more time, because this is part of the South American mentality

Nevertheless, you should make an effort to be on time, particularly as a volunteer. Even though no one else will be, your punctuality really stands out and shows your motivation and commitment.

... you do not like bus rides.

The most practical option for getting around in Ecuador is to take a ride with the local buses that run to just about every pretty little corner of the country. Most buses run every 5-15 minutes. Give the signal and you can hop on or off practically anywhere. However, this means of transportation does prolong the duration of the trip tremendously, so you should bring a calm attitude and plenty of time along with you. It is also important to note that very few buses are equipped with a toilet. 

Nevertheless, this public transport with a price of 7 € for an eight-hour bus ride is unbeatable and the fun you’ll have is priceless, once you get the hang of it and figure out your routes. With the locals, the children and pretty much the whole family on the bus, you’ll certainly have an unforgettable time. Of course it’s only fun if you don't need too much personal space...the buses can get very crowded.

This public transport with a price of 7 € for an eight-hour bus ride is unbeatable and the fun you’ll have is priceless.

Most buses run every 5-15 minutes. Give the signal and you can hop on or off practically anywhere. However, this means of transportation does prolong the duration of the trip tremendously, so you should bring a calm attitude and plenty of time along with you. It is also important to note that very few buses are equipped with a toilet. Nevertheless, this public transport with a price of 7 € for an eight-hour bus ride is unbeatable and the fun you’ll have is priceless, once you get the hang of it and figure out your routes. With the locals, the children and pretty much the whole family on the bus, you’ll certainly have an unforgettable time. Of course it’s only fun if you don't need too much personal space...the buses can get very crowded.

... you put a high value on privacy.

This does not mean that you're going have Ecuadorians all over you like a rash 24 hours a day, but in Ecuador you will not find that personal space is valued the way we are used to in our countries. Buses are narrow and often very crowded and the Ecuadorians show no discomfort as they squeeze in and start friendly conversations with travelers. This openness also comes into play in personal relationships. Relationships between family members, friends and couples are often much more intimate.After some time you will learn to love these cultural differences! However, it is always important that you feel comfortable and therefore you should remove yourself from any situation in which you feel is overly aggressive or offensive. Try to reflect on your discomfort and see if it is really them, or you. It is important that you know, respect and tolerate cultural differences, but that does not mean that you have to put them before your own comfort. Try to step away in as polite a manner as possible.

... you do not like to talk about yourself.

... or if you feel quickly put off by personal questions. South Americans tend to be very open and bluntly ask things like your age, relationship status, your job, the job of your friend - if you have one and if not, why. No harm is intended, they are only showing interest in you and your foreign culture. If you do not want to answer these questions then add a little diversion to the conversation and change the subject.

... you do not like rich food.

Unless you are a professional athlete, it is guaranteed that you gain a pound or 5 during your volunteer stay. The Ecuadorian cuisine is very diverse and all the ingredients are fresh from the market. Particularly common plates consist of pork, chicken, beef and guinea pig. But do not worry about that last one - guinea pigs are usually eaten only in the mountainous area. In addition to the meat are plenty of carbohydrates. Especially popular here are rice, corn and potatoes. It is impossible to travel to Ecuador with a calorie counter because one of the highlights of this trip will be good food.

But do not worry about guinea pigs – they are usually eaten only in the mountainous area.

As if the overwhelming main courses are not enough, there are other culinary temptations on practically on every street corner such as:

  • empanadas (savory stuffed pastry)
  • arepas (flat bread made usually from corn flour)
  • grilled corn on the cob
  • roasted peanuts
  • popsicles
  • fresh fruit
  • all kinds of other delicacies from neighboring countries such as Mexican Churros (fried pastry) or dark Peruvian chocolate.

And these are just some of your choices! Ecuadorians also have a love for ice cream. This is a special attraction among the street venders as this delicious treat is served from large containers which are often carried around on the heads of the women selling it.