December 04, 2011

Ecuadorian Culture is Very Resourceful

Ecuador is one of the most resourceful cultures we have seen. We’re sure that most of Latin America is much the same way. One reason there are no thrift stores in Ecuador is because the locals do not throw anything away. When something breaks they fix it, or if they can’t fix it, they get it fixed by someone who can fix or repair it.

Refrigerator Repair 

We read that only about 50% of Ecuadorians own a refrigerator.  Refrigerators are not cheap here. If you want to buy a refrigerator that is taller than you, you’ll spend at least $900 and if you’re taller than 6’ you’ll still be taller than that $900 refrigerator. When a refrigerator stops running, they take it down to the appliance repair shop and get it fixed. We’ve gone into some used appliance stores to check out prices and what you see in there is 60’s and 70’s used refrigerators for $300 on up.


Television Repair


Since living here we have noticed many different kinds of repair shops; from appliance repair to clothing repair. There are several TV repair shops in downtown Cuenca and we took a peek inside one of them and there are a bunch of 70 style televisions waiting to get picked up by their owners. And for good reason, flat screen HDTV’s cost 2 to 3 times more here.  They are asking $200 for a 19 inch analogue “new” TV here. So it makes sense they would have their televisions repaired rather than buy a brand new TV. Even the Ecuadorians complain about the price of electronics here.


Shoe Repair


If a heel breaks on your shoes or if the treads get worn out many Ecuadorians take their shoes to the cobbler. We’ve seen about three shoe repair shops just downtown alone. They have Payless shoes here where you can buy one pair get the second pair half off, but they cost about twice as much here as they do in the US and about 90% of them have a inch or taller heel! So if you like high heels this is a good place to buy your shoes. Shoes stores are everywhere in downtown Cuenca. Ecuadorians love shoes. Quality tennis shoes start at about $39.


Multipurpose Repair Shops


We bought my back pack here at Feria Libre Mercado. It is not a cheapy back pack but it is not the most durable pack on the market either. She was asking $23 for it and Frank bargained her down to $18. Well, wouldn’t you know it, after about a month of using it one of the zippers started coming apart and it wouldn’t stay zipped.  We ended up taking it down to a multi-purpose repair shop where they fix, mend and repair just about anything that exists.


These multipurpose fix-it shops shops are amazing, by the way. They fixed my zipper for $3! Beats spending $18 on a new pack! About a month later another zipper started acting up and so they replaced the whole zipper this time for just $5. We’re happy they have these kinds of repair shops here.  Whatever you need repaired, take it to one of these shops and they will do whatever they can to mend it, whether it is clothing, packs, shoes, purses, gadgets, what have you.


Old Datsuns and Toyotas


There are a lot of older model cars, especially Datsuns and Toyotas here in Cuenca. These 60’s and 70’s cars are well taken care of with new paint jobs, nice rims and tires and some are even hopped up. Frank had a 1980 Toyota pickup with over 400,000 miles on it and he was still driving it before we came here. He said if he could have had it shipped down here he would have kept it, but they do not allow used vehicles to be shipped into Ecuador.  Prices for an older well-kept Toyota or Datsun go for around $4K here, so they are not cheap.


It is amazing how resourceful and industrious Ecuadorians are. When you come from a culture where waste is normal and throwing out what one does not want anymore, or buying new when something breaks rather than fixing it, makes coming to a Latin American culture where everyone is so resourceful, simply Amazing!  At first, for some, it can be a culture shock. But we were already like this, more or less, and so it is actually more amazing to us than a shock. It’s pretty neat here.

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