Ecuadorian lifestyle: "Ama la vida"


Life in Ecuador is something that is best experienced in the first person and on the spot, of course. However, this article endeavors to give you a taste of the lifestyle that awaits you if you decide to move to Ecuador.

Family first

You’ve got to love that Ecuador’s official motto as a country is “Ama la vida”. Love life. And it is not just a motto either. Ecuadorians seem to naturally put it into practice every single day, starting at home. At the heart of life in Ecuador is the family unit, which is formed by the parents and kids, plus oftentimes extended members such as grandparents or godfathers and godmothers. In most Ecuadorian homes, traditional gender roles still apply, with the husband being the breadwinner and the woman acting as housewife. Machismo, accordingly, is deeply ingrained into everyday life and confirmed feminist expatriates might bristle and grit their teeth quite a bit in the course of their adaption in Ecuador. But the way families are cemented by strong ties is fundamentally heart-warming.

Almuerzo at home

In Ecuador, one does not live to work, one works in order to live and enjoy life to the fullest. This means spending pleasant moments with loved ones. If possible, workers will go back home and enjoy a home-cooked meal with family members at midday. Almuerzo or lunch is the most important meal of the day, lasting from one to two hours. Restaurants offer similar multiple-course menus to those you might find in an Ecuadorian household at midday for as little as $2.  Dinner tends to be lighter, made of leftovers from lunch or perhaps some rice and a fried egg.

There’s no hurry

At all. As the long lunch hinted there, the pace of life in Ecuador is slower than that of the US or many European countries. A relaxed attitude is adopted towards most things. This can be both delightful (for example when savoring one of the aforementioned lovingly-made meals at home) and impossibly frustrating to some expats (for example when you would like to have a definite answer as to when your phone line will be installed already).

Warm interaction

Foreigners almost unanimously find the Ecuadorian people to be warm and open. A basic greeting is a handshake accompanied by direct eye contact and a smile. Once an Ecuadorian has accepted you as a close friend, though, you’ll be greeted in a much more tactile manner; in that case, men use an “abrazo”, embracing and patting each other on the shoulder, while women kiss once on the right cheek. You should let your Ecuadorian acquaintance determine when to switch to this friendlier stance, but chances are you won’t have to wait long.

 Useful links:

Daily life and social customs
Etiquette in Ecuador
A day in the life of an Ecuadorian child

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