Did you know? Maps of Ecuador other than those actually made in Ecuador were banned until 1998. This is because they looked very different. The Ecuadorian version of the Ecuadorian map was much larger and claimed the area disputed with Peru. In 1998, the presidents of both countries called a truce. 1 square mile of land was symbolically given to Ecuador in exchange for Ecuador's renouncement of all claims. Since then, the relations between these neighbors has improved dramatically.
If you are in Ecuador over New Years, you'll probably get a chance to see the local custom of burning effigies called "anios viejos". These are normally made with paper mache and usually depict unpopular politicians or old people. They burn them as if to say "out with the old, and in with the new" and it is thought to bring good luck.
New Years 1993-1994, I was in Santa Rosa, on the coast and we toured the streets checking out all the effigies shortly before midnight. Then, it began to rain and we dashed inside. So we saw the effigies, but no burning.
All Souls Day, on November 2nd, is an important day for Ecuadorians. It is also a good time to visit a cemetary, which I found to be quite different that what I am used to in the states. Many graves are actaully set in towers of concrete boxes. During my exchange year, I went with my host family to lay flowers on some anscestors graves in Riobamba. There were tons of people at the cemetary doing the same - very colorful and culturally interesting.
Carnival is celebrated over 3 days, usually in Feb or March, to welcome the onset of Ecuador's rainy season. This is a prime example of a festival with indigenous roots that has been transformed somewhat by catholic tradition. It has elements of Mardi Gras (parades, colorful clothing, dancing in the streets) mixed with something unique to Ecuadorian culture: the throwing of water! Pretty much wherever you are during this time, you are likely to get hit by water ballons. (Kids sure love them! ) But the highland city of Guaranda, south of Quito, is carnival central. This is the "new orleans" of Ecuador, where locals are especially exuberant, adding flour throwing into the watery mix.
It's also traditional to drink lots of "chicha", an alcoholic beverage made from corn.
If you don't want to get drenched during Carnival time, go to Ambato. Water ballons are outlawed - instead they have the Festival of Fruits and Flowers, which is colorful and interesting in its own right.
If you are in Quito during the first week of December, you might want to check out a bullfight. December 6th, the anniversary of the founding of Quito, is a huge party - with dancing in the streets (esp. to the tradtional song "Chulla Quiteno") and parades. On each of the 8 days leading up to Dec. 6th, there is a morning bullfight and an evening bullfight in the main "Plaza de Toros". This is a very interesting experience. Outside you can buy wine or beer in plastic baggies (no cans or bottles allowed inside the arena) - which certainly makes for an interesting atmosphere.
Ecuador is full of culture and customs. The Andean culture is depicted in this pic outside a church. I'm not sure which town this is since I actually took the picture from a moving bus en route to Loja.
Ecuador is a place where you can learn from your mistakes, as well from another's.. So, better enjoy as long as it lasts!
Panoramic view of Cuenca, which in this pic could be any city in the world :)
you dont need to tip
greetings are longer than here and nobody's in a rush to end the greetings and goodbyes-just chill out i guess
if your dancing with someone and they aren't looking at you, forget it they are not interested in you. if they are well 'buena suerte'.but remember that its a different culture and people are looking for different stuff down there.
Ecuadorians have a unique way of celebrating Carnival - they hit unsuspecting passersby with water. Water balloons, buckets, supersoaker waterguns, we saw it all and a few of us were lucky enough to be targets. Ecuador has an interesting history and a visit to the National Museum ($2) covers ancient history to the present with displays of archaeological artifacts and works of art.
I think it's very important to at least learn key phrases in Spanish. If you attempt to talk in Spanish, the Ecuadorian people will be most helpful and friendly. Even in Quito, we found very little English.
Ingapirca, near Cuenca, is a site with the most important Inca ruins in Ecuador. The sight is not exactly breathtaking, nothing like Peru, but it is worth taking a guided tour anyway. The perfect assembly of stones making up the central 'dungeon' is incredible.
Please, do not give candies to the children ! Just give them something useful, there is a big lack of didactic material, instead of letting their teeth fall out or letting a child get used of begging and expecting, give them a pencil, a puzzle or a book !
Quito cemeteryHere is a typical south american cemetery. Since they are very religious, I tried to be as respectuous as possible. Many people were in to pray for close ones and family, and some were selling flowers at the gate.
People are generaly very friendly, but the indiens can seem closed and hard to get to. Don't dress in their clothing even if it is tempting as it is so beautiful. Ask before you take pictures. If you wanna get to them, try take part in their doings. Wash your clothes in the river (they all came running to help me, thinking I was hopeless) eat at their small stalls in the maket and help them a bit. This has a very positive efect. As to get in touch with the other locals Salsa and Cuba libre are the sure ways.
When the Spanish army "discovered" Ecuador in the XVI century, the Inca empire was very well established. General Ruminahui and Inca Atahualpa fought fiercely to defend their way of life, but lost the war. The establishment of Spanish rule marked the beginning of the genocide of indigenous populations, the reduced number who survived the massacre and the forced work imposed to them had no choice but to settle in marginal uplands, where dry and cold climate gives no opportunity for agricultural production. In the beginning of the XVIII century, the Spanish rulers proclaimed their independence from the Emperor, giving way to a de-centralised colonial power which is going on until today. In the most recent years, the indigenous peoples federation (CONAIE) supported the establishment of an indigenous party (Patchakutik) which achieved good results and a key position in the country's political life.
In Ecuador's economic scene, the crucial confrontation goes on between the
traditional oligarchy settled in Quito and along the main valley ("los
de la Sierra") and the newcomers, banana and cacao growers and traders
from the lowlands around Guayaquil ("los de la Costa").
Traveled thur Quito on a Eco Tourism trip. The Marriott was unforgetable. Beautiful hotel in every...more
When we arrived at the Hotel Victoria after our early morning flight from Quito it was only 9.00 am,...more
Av. de las Amazonas, Banos, 2000, Ecuador
Satisfaction: Very Good
Good for: Business
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