10 Years of Blog Archive

Friday, July 05, 2013

Are Ecuadorians Really as Friendly as EVERYONE Says?

Are Ecuadorians Really as Friendly as EVERYONE Says?

The quick answer is…YES…But let me start by saying that when we first started this blog two years ago we were the first bloggers to go outside the box and pop the bubble that Cuenca is really not everything the glossy magazine writers say it is.  You have probably seen our 12 annoyances about Cuenca video we published on YT in 2011.

Anyway, a lot can evolve over time, and now everyone is writing about the negatives of Cuenca Ecuador. 

In fact, we know of one glossy travel online magazine that will no longer say “it is perfect spring like weather year round”, now it reads:   “Does this sound like spring-like weather to you”?   It changes the picture quite a bit, doesn’t it?

We know that no one likes their dream bubble popped but how about not making something into a bubble in the first place! Will that work? We think so. After all, we can make our own paradise no matter where we live in the world, right?


Here we are again; we’re going to be the first to talk about another subject that has been over-done and hyped up.  This is a controversial, touchy subject that no one has talked about so far, but for the sake of our readers, it has to be said. We only want to be helpful and the best and only way to do that is to be up front about certain subjects that are NEVER talked about anywhere else.

Are Ecuadorians Really as Friendly as EVERYONE Says? 

One thing that 99.9% of folks agree on about Ecuador is the friendliness of the Ecuadorian people. Yes, the folks in Ecuador are friendly but not any more so than in many other countries, and that does include some parts of North America!

We often find it a bit over-dramatic when an expat goes on and on and on about how friendly the Ecuadorians are. Ok, next. 

We like to remind our readers that we report our experiences not our opinions.  And I think a variety of experiences give us perspective.  We have lived in many parts of North America, and so we can empathize with those that are coming from most large metro areas.  Once when I was in Houston, I noticed strangers didn’t make eye contact and there was a general fear in the people of strangers.
In Portland Oregon, people generally were rude and in traffic would frequently flip you off.  Maybe it was my driving but it didn’t happen when I was in the South! 

This is, again something that comes down to experience.  And a lot of folks that are expatriating haven’t had the pleasant experience of having lived in the Southern parts of North America. 

If you have not been to the southern states of the u.s. then you may not know that in small town South just about everybody is friendly and everyone will stop and say hello and offer their help if they can. The u.s. Southerners will even wave at you while driving down the street.  We have not seen this in Ecuador. 

If you are from the south in the Northern country then you’ll know what we’re talking about.  Strangers will go out of their way to offer assistance and you will most-likely be directed to the right place and get a correct answer.

Southerners from the northern country take time to chit chat and be friendly.  They take it nice and slow, it’s a healthier pace of life.  From our experiences and having lived in the south for 25-years, you really can’t beat the friendliness of southern folks of the United States, not even in this paradise called Cuenca.

So what does that have to do with how friendly or unfriendly Ecuadorians are?  Well we think that if you’re coming from a back ground such as described above, it’s entirely possible that perception on this subject is, well, unbalanced and overly skewed and here’s why.

Ecuadorians are just people and being ‘just people’ they make social mistakes and even mistakes of judgement when it comes to being friendly.  Well here, let’s just name a few ways that many Ecuadorians are not that friendly on a fairly regular basis. You then can decide for yourselves.

Who Has the Right of Way at a Pedestrian Crosswalk?

True scenario: You’ve had a long day exploring Cuenca and you are really tired. You stop off at Supermaxi before returning to your apartment for a much needed rest. On the short walk home you are lugging two bags of groceries and trying to cross the busy street and not one Ecuadorian driver stops and lets you cross the street. Instead they honk their horn at you while you risk your life (truly) by dashing for the best clearing of cars, hoping you will not stumble or fall as you try to get to the other side. They don’t even slow down.  In fact, at times they seem to speed up!

Of course even here in Ecuador pedestrians technically have the right of way, but 9 out of 10 Ecuadorian drivers will dismiss the pedestrian and just keep on driving. Do they not stop because you are a gringo? Goodness gracious no, we have seen them not stop for the elderly Ecuadorian man or woman in a walker either.

Question:  Is it really friendly to not stop for pedestrians?  They won’t stop even when you’re in the clearly marked pedestrian crosswalk.   What does this really tell you about someone?

Ecuadorians and Riding the Bus

True Scenario: You’re waiting at the bus stop and you are standing closest to the curb. You see the bus number you need and you hail the bus. Even though you are standing closest to where the bus stops, all the local folks scramble in front of you to be first in line, literally pushing you aside… every single one of them just cutting in front of you, and as usual, you are last to get on the bus, because you won’t stoop to such behavior.

Question:  Is it really friendly to cut in front of others? BTW, the locals do it to the locals so don’t think it is a racist issue. Cutting up in front of others happens no matter where you are at or what line you’re standing in.  Young and old alike, will cut in front of you.  Just last week two teens tried to blatantly cut in front of me at the supermarket.  I motioned to them to get behind me.  What does this kind of behavior tell you about a person?

Ecuadorians and Gringo Gouging

It’s ironic how expats go on and on about how friendly the Ecuadorians are as they continually gringo-gouge the foreigner, that would be you. Sure the local is smiling up and down and being as friendly as friendly can be as they make their wallet thicker and thicker off of you.

Is it racism? No, it is not racism because they also do it to their own people when they find out they have lived in North America…Understand, gringo and foreigner gouging is something most Ecuadorians will not think twice about doing if they know they can get away with it. 

So why is this happening? It is just the way it is here and in most Latin American and other foreign cultures.  It is part of the culture to try and take you for whatever they can get. So, yeah, they are going to be friendly.

Anyone can “act” friendly but not anyone can “be” a friend to you.

We’re not saying that all Ecuadorians will try and rip you off but some of them will. We’re sure that you have made some wonderful friendships with the locals and they are most-likely a real friend to you.

There are honest Ecuadorians that WILL NOT gringo-gouge the foreigner because they KNOW it to be a dishonest thing to do. But our experience has been that this is rare here.  When one does not have principle within their being and they resent the fact that the gringo has more money than they do…they will try and get as much from the gringo as they can. Just saying…

Question:  is ripping off foreigners and gringos a friendly thing to do?

Ecuadorians and Honesty

Anyone can pretend to like you, and it is easy to say nice things to puff you up, but not until you really know a person will you actually know if they are putting up a front and just “acting friendly” or if they have a genuine “like” for you and are glad that you have moved to their country.  Eventually fruits of a person will become transparent and you’ll know the answer to this yourself.

Pretense of Friendliness

Sadly, and this has been our experience where we have met some Ecuadorians in a business setting and many of them are unethical when it comes down to money matters. Any scruples that they had previously shown were thrown out the window when it came down to being honest and up-front about certain things. 

This is a real and on-going theme we are seeing. However, many expats may not have a negative dealing with an Ecuadorian if they do not interact and or integrate with them in their every-day dealings and business settings like Frank and I do on an every-day level.

Words of advice: Be careful to whom you trust. Some will lie through their front teeth if it means a monetary gain for them. There is a pretense of friendliness but be careful because they may not be a friend to you.

In our book a BIG PART of what makes a person friendly is that person 'behaving honorably' toward you and being honest…and well, we just have not seen a lot of that here when it comes to business and money matters. 

Seriously folks this article is not meant to disparage the Ecuadorians but to bring insightful, informative experiences and observations to our devoted readers.  This is how we give back by sharing not just the good going on in Cuenca but the not so good going on in Cuenca.

On the other hand, I can’t help but notice that when I take my time and say hello and chit chat, and take it real slow, and smile a lot, the Ecuadorians love it…especially when I take the time to ask about their family and their day, etc. etc. I just need to remember not to let that blind me and forget not to hand over any money, and to keep a watchful eye to being overcharged.  (Gringoed)

In the end it is up to you to decide a person’s character because you will be the one interacting and dealing with them. We just think there is a lot of hype about how friendly the locals are when they are just people in a specific culture, with specific cultural norms that may be different from what we’re used to.


  1. Very insightful and honest. Much appreciated. I would add that, having spent many years as a developmental psychologist I have learned that cultures which are less developed and less complex also generally have less developed laws, less adherence to those laws, less developed senses of ethics, morality, less complex thinking, fewer environmental concerns, etc. This in no way reflects poorly on the culture; that happens to be where a culture is on the developmental continuum. There is a price to pay for more complexity and that price is what has brought many expats to Ecuador. Without this understanding, the behaviors can be quite befuddling at times, but they are not uniquely Ecusdorian. What might look like egocentric behavior may also pretty common, (and appropriate) as allegiance is usually for the immediate family or clan and spreads not too far from those close circles. If one comes from a more complex culture it is, of course, natural to reflect upon things from that world view and perspective, but it's necessary to also understand that if one comes for a simpler life, it is not selectively simpler..it's definitely a package of behaviors some of which may appeal and others, well, not so much. Thanks.

  2. Hello, I am living at the Cuenca too. I am from Russia... and.. I dont like Ecuadorian women, I am so sorry, but this is true...
    They can discuss about you near with you if I dont understand Spanish, like to gossip about neighborhood, so pity for me=( because for my Country this is not typical...

    1. People can be cruel especially if they think you don't undetstand the language. It seems that thus far in my reading that no foreigner makes a genuine connection there. I have a Belgium friend here in the southern US states and the relationship incorporates trust. Trust is a key element anywhere you may be. These women are poisoning any relationship that you have built with them.

    2. Speaking from 16 years of living in Ecuador:
      I don't think it's accurate to say that "no foreigner makes a genuine connection there." Ecuador has its flaws yes, but I have relatives who are foreigners and have made tons of connections there. Not everyone can be trusted yes, but that doesn't mean that every "women" is "poisoning any relationship that you have built with them." I would think its safe to say that many Ecuadorian people can be trusted.
      Also, the gossiping about neighbors in other languages happens in all parts of the world.

  3. Trust me , I wanted more than everything in the world for Ecuador to be my new home. That was the whole Idea of leaving troubled mexico and coming here. But hey, I now know the truth and I am leaving here as soon as I can , and I really don't plan to come back. I have been to many many other places much better than here. Basically everywhere else I have been I have liked more than here, this is by far the worst country I have been to.

    People are incredibly rude, uneducated, bad mannared, disrespectful, and really really dumb.

    Worst customer service EVER. Everything good that I have heard about ecuador was not true , the only thing that suprised me in a good way was nature. the people , the culture, the food, everything is just incredibly bad. Truste me.

  4. I am sorry but as soon as I read "Instead they honk their horn at you while you risk your life (truly) by dashing for the best clearing of cars, hoping you will not stumble or fall as you try to get to the other side", I knew you are a drama queen. I mean, you were just walking with two bags... it's not like you were climbing a mountain carrying the world in your back. You have to admit that the "risking your life" is too much. So I'm just taking 30% of what you wrote because this post doesn't look very serious, it seems it was written by someone who got hurt by his/her ex bf/gf and now it's taking revenge. You must really hate ecuadorians because you made look like shit and that's not the truth at all. I wish you not to go back there never again in your life so you don't have to "risk your life" with that aweful people.

    1. Hello Caro, have you ever walked the streets in Cuenca before? You should do a google search for it and see what other expats have to say about it. Actually it is much worse than what we describe. BTW, we continue to live in Ecuador and report all the aspects of life here, holding nothing back but telling it like it is.

    2. Yes Caro, as someone liVing in Ecuador for over 6 years I agree with the previous posts. Your response is emotional and immature. I wish I hadn't read it. It does reinforce my impression of Ecuadorians

    3. I have lived here for three years and have feared crossing the street many times. Ecuadorian drivers will literally run a stop sign and not slow down in the least, whether you are in the crosswalk or not. They will then proceed to open their windows and yell at you for getting in their way. They all drive incredibly aggressively, honking at each other and yelling out of their windows. There are many nice Ecuadorians of course, but honestly not any more nice than any other place in the world. Not only do Ecuadorians not respect each other, they don't even respect their country or the beautiful nature its blessed with. EVERY road in this country is covered in garbage on the sides of the road. It is completely normal to walk down the street and watch people just throw their trash on the ground when they finish. People will CONSTANTLY lie to you if it means that they get something out of it. Workers are incredibly lazy and irresponsible. Quite frankly, besides the nature, I think this is the worst country I've been to. Again, this is not coming from the perspective of someone who just had a fun little visit on a backpacking trip. I have lived here. I have experienced Ecuadorian life in its reality.

    4. Thank you Evan, we appreciate your frankness and sharing your thoughts. All developing countries in Latin America share the same problems you mention.

  5. From my encounter, Ecuadorians are the least friendly of the South Americans and i have had full experience with them, they pretend a lot, if you have something they desire. The men are just as bad a s the women. They don't even seem to like each other that much.

  6. Well, I am searching for the opinions about Ecuadorian because I want to know anyone else has the same experience as mine... As a foreigner living and working here for 3 years, I would say to live in Ecuador is relaxed (if you can speak Spanish ),the nature is just amazing and the people is more or less relaxed as well (of course there is bad guy everywhere, just need to be careful). However, to work here is such a MESS!The people here, generally, is toooooo lazy, the efficiency is super low, l get mad with them... But they are just... Relaxed, too 'relaxed 'I mean. And they will never ever admit the mistake they have made, keep finding excuses, even though sometimes they excuses are too much nonsense...

  7. As someone who lived in Guayaquil for many years, the people here honk their horns to make sure you don't cross. I'm not saying that's polite, but that's how it is. Ecuador is a beautiful country with many rich aspects. The people here vary from lazy to hardworking to many different types and to say that they're all lazy is a bit bias. Not just Ecuadorians, but many other South American countries exploit strangers or tourists for their money because they see white people and they can't wait to thicken their wallet. However, not everyone is like that in Ecuador. Little children sell simple things to try and provide for their family. I didn't have a enough money one night at a resteraunt and a lovely Ecuadorian couple covered it for me. So before tearing down, please consider all of the circumstances and information. I am not even from Ecuador, I am an American who came to live here for many years and the people made this country feel like home to me.

    1. Great response! I would like to add that even many of those people who 'cant wait to thicken their wallet' are just trying to make sure they have enough to eat and provide for their family. Many are running a small business and see a gringo and know that that person can afford to pay a few extra dollars that locals can't.
      To all those who are tearing down the country, realize that wage is a lot higher in the USA, there are a lot more jobs and a much better welfare system; so you can't claim that Ecuadorians are evil and without morals when many have been through harsh circumstances which have forced them to take opportunity of getting an extra dollar or two.


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