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. Before visiting, you should at least have an idea of Ecuador’s history and its current situation.
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, imagine we only produce bananas, picture us merely wearing loincloths, or mention how surprised you are to find cars, cinemas, and 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 notes in your pocket. 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. Share 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. Shit-talk our family.
Ecuadorians love to be the “mama 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 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 right before your eyes, in 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 the land that was totally stolen by Peruvians.
10. Brag about not needing visas to travel.
We need to apply for a visa to go EVERYWHERE. 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.