Hard Adjustments for Foreigners in Ecuador

I have been traveling for the past month, in London, Utrecht, Amsterdam, and Florida, and I'm finally back home in Quito and back to work. The transition from third world to first world wasn't as easy as I thought, but neither is my current transition from first world to third world.

Quito is relatively modern, we have bagel shops and sorta reliable public transportation and Zara and other things that make living here a little easier on foreigners, but in the end, it's still in Ecuador, which is pretty third world despite recent advances. A couple things have really stood out to me in the last week and I thought I would write up a list for people thinking of visiting or relocating to Ecuador. These are the things that take some getting used to here:

No Flushing Toilet Paper- For the most part, you can't flush toilet paper. In newer buildings it's often ok, but assume in most houses, restaurants, etc. that the toilet paper goes in the bin next to the toilet. This seemed really gross at first but I got used to it. Now I still throw away toilet paper when I go back to the States! The old pipes here just can't handle the waste.

Drinking Room Temperature Water- We could make ice I suppose or use Brita filters, but most people just put a giant jug of filtered water on their kitchen counter. Cold water seems abrasive to me now: it's so much more pleasant to ingest something closer to my body temperature!

Hearing People's Music on Public Transportation- When you are on a bus or trolley in Ecuador, be prepared to hear three reggaeton songs, some Pitbull, a splash of Black Eyed Peas, and a salsa remix of an Adele song... all at the same time. Headphones don't seem to have caught on here, and people play their music out loud on their telephones.

Being Overly Cautious In The Street- I'm a paranoid bitch now, no matter where I go, because of the behavioral conditioning I have endured in the last two years in Ecuador. I don't carry a lot of stuff, even if I want to bring a lot of stuff, and I constantly am evaluating the sketchiness of everyone around me. I really feel like I can't just kick back and relax when I am strolling around the streets of Quito.

Depending on Argumentative Taxi Drivers- I am completely dependent on taxi drivers in Quito to get around, and taxi drivers in Quito are dicks. Every once in awhile I get a nice one, but for the most part I expect to have to argue a little bit about prices. I know how much taxi fares cost without even looking at the taxi meter, but oftentimes drivers will cover the meter and lie about the price to white people. They have a million excuses, such as: fares cost more at night, there is traffic, this was out of my way, the meter is broken, etc. I wish I didn't have to fight every time I got in a cab.

Show Up Late To Events- Gotta get used to being late for events again because I am a super punctual person. I also have to retrain myself not to be insulted when others show up late for something. There is a half hour to hour buffer in all appointments.

No Internet Presence for Businesses- Isn't it nice being able to google a restaurant, read reviews, find their phone number, location on google maps, hours, and full menu? How about ordering delivery online? Yeah, none of that happens in Ecuador. Every time I go eat out in a restaurant, I always have a back up plan in case they are closed because I often can't even find a phone number for them online to call and see if they are open. Also, it's hard to find fun events in the area because they aren't listed online. This is slowly getting better; some venues and restaurants are starting to create facebook pages, but it's still not reliable.


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