February 14, 2016

What Do Grande & Muy Amplio Really Mean in Ecuador and Latin America?

We ask the sales lady, “Tiene mas grande?”  She holds up a t-shirt and says, “Si, si, it’s muy grande”!  Yep, it says “extra grande” on the tag in the back but it looks like about a medium size, certainly would not fit any of us in our family. Moving on…

Small means big and big means small, small is the new plenty.  What's your beef?  Wanna live big?  No problem.
Well, here, let’s take a look.

Move Over Honey, You're Hogging the Bed?
 

We’ve been in numerous hostels throughout the country of Ecuador when writing for our Ecuador guide books and in most hostels the matrimonial room, which is for two people offers only a double bed.  The last time I slept in a double sized bed was as a teenager still living at home…until we moved to Ecuador.

FYI: Getting a queen size bed in most hostels is a rare treat and we tried very hard to only list double rooms that had queen sized mattresses in our guide books and one double room hostel in Quito has a KING sized bed…wow!

Si, Mi Casa es Muy Amplio
 

Some of the rental ads do not list the meters of construction. The ad will say the home is “muy amplio”.  So we call it and ask how many meters and he says, “140 metros”.  This translates to about 1,514’ square feet and the home is a 4 bedroom, study, kitchen/dining and living room, and 2-1/2 bath. Hello, how on earth do you fit all these rooms in a 1,500’ house? Easy, the rooms are very small…they are so small that a queen sized bed will barely fit or maybe not at all.

Es Un Grande Almuerzo?
 

Time to eat! When we went to a new restaurant for almuerzo and asked the price, she said $3.50, so out of curiosity we ask, “Why so much, is it a big lunch?” and she smiles and shakes her head with vigor, “si, muy grande almuerzo”.  

Here’s the lunch plate.
$3.50 almuerzo comes with soup and juice
This is no bigger than the $2.50 almuerzo, which is also considered grande…and for some people maybe it is, but we eat a lot.

I once went out for almuerzo with a friend and first thing he said when the plates arrived:  "hm, they don't eat much here?"  My answer was, "Well, at $2.50 you can order another one". Just trying to stay lighthearted.  He didn't laugh. 

If the Shoe Fits 

Have you ever gone shopping for shoes in Ecuador or Panama? The shoes are tiny, really tiny. I wear a size 8-1/2 and have difficulty finding shoes in my size. I don’t consider myself to be a big person either, just average.

In Panama the shoe sales lady was embarrassed for me because not one of the three pair of tennis shoes I liked had my size of 8-1/2.  At that moment I felt like BIG foot! The biggest size was size 8. Just saying, bring shoes with you if you move to a Latin American country. It’s the same with jeans and shirts too…the clothing is big, small plenty amplio take your pick.

Los Gringos son Grandes Personas
 

It is sometimes quite apparent who the gringos are in a crowd.  They're easy to spot. From 5’10" inches tall to 6' 2" inches in our family we mostly stand quite tall. Good thing we're not taller though like many gringos are.  The good thing about it is, It's easier to film things in a crowd of people, like the time we were standing in line at the El Arenal Bus Transfer Station.
El Arenal Bus Transfer Station
Ecuadorian Furniture and Daddy Long Legs
 

Some of the furniture in Ecuador is muy poco (very tiny)!  When we first moved here our family all went furniture shopping; this is before we thought about building our own furniture, and anyway, we sat down on the furniture and it was so low to the floor we looked really funny sitting on the sofas because our legs were up to our chins and its almost NOT an exaggeration on this one.

Please Leave the Toilet When You Leave
 

Some of the toilets are pequeño (tiny). Once when we were helping an expat couple, the man said, “I just can’t do these tiny toilets, I’m going to have to buy my own toilet and put it in, if I rent in Cuenca”.  We told him, “Yes, the landlord will love that you are fixing up their rental house for them because you can’t take your toilet with you when you leave”. We all chuckled.

So in a nutshell our deduction after having lived here almost 5 years...what Latin Americans consider grande and muy amplio may just be average size and standard or small areas for us.   Or perhaps we should look at it from their shoes (no pun intended), maybe all of the things mentioned are really grande and muy amplio but we are just extravagant people.

Until we write again.
 

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We're an Expat Family of Five, Living Frugal, Healthy and Happy Abroad. We live in Cuenca, Ecuador and travel the Ecuador coast whenever we get a chance. We just adventured throughout the country of Panama for five weeks! Come along and enjoy some of our experiences with us!

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