We all know that we don’t pat the back of a colleague in Korea to thank them for a “job well done”. Or eat with your left hand in India, or sip vodka in Russia. In many countries, these actions are harmless. But in others, they can give a wrong impression or cause offense.
In fact, whatever culture you’re from, it’s likely that you routinely do something that could cause offense somewhere else in the world. So here is:
A primer on how to avoid mistakes in Ecuador
The common greetings are “Buenos días”, “Buenas tardes” or “Buenas noches”, (Good morning, Good afternoon, and Good evening, respectively). It is usually complemented by a handshake, between men, and by a kiss on the cheek between women or between a man and a woman. “Hola” is the most common greeting between friends and acquaintances. Note that, as in most Latin American countries, it’s considered normal and polite to stand quite close to the other person while talking.
If you speak Spanish with Ecuadorians commoners, take note of the difference between the two forms for the pronoun “you”: the informal “tú” and the formal “usted”. It’s customary to address older people and people with whom you’re not familiar with “usted”. Ecuadorans are generally forgiving of non-native speakers, but use “usted” when in doubt. Among many other cultural idiosyncrasies, in the Sierra regions it is considered impolite to use a downward-facing palm as a reference for the height of a person. Instead, the hand is held on its side, and the measurement taken from the lower edge to the floor.
Gesturing with the palm down is appropriate for animals only. When motioning for someone to “come here,” it is impolite to motion your hand with the palm facing up. Instead, use a downward swipe of the hand with the palm facing down. Acceptable clothing varies by region of the country. In the mountainous Sierra region, including Quito, clothes are usually more warm because of the weather. On the coast, meanwhile, more casual clothes predominate.
With this, you had the primer on key facts about Ecuador, and key facts on culture and customs. Another important part of the culture is the local food and the local drinks. Make sure you read our posts on Ecuador food and drinks:
Other tips that you’d like to share on mistakes to avoid in Ecuador? Please comment below.