Ecuadorians are warm and friendly. Nearly every hostel I’ve stayed at has made me feel really welcomed. A favourite phrase of hostel hosts is mi casa es tu casa (my house is your house). Casa Sol in Cuenca even includes it as its slogan.
A variation in landscape and environments and temperatures makes Ecuador an ideal place to visit, particularly since everything is within easy reach due to the compact size of the country. In less than eight hours from mountainous Quito you can be at the coast or in the jungle. Mountains, swamps, beaches, cities, – Ecuador has it all. Hiking, biking, climbing, swimming, sightseeing, surfing, zip-lining or even just chilling out in a hammock, they’re all easily accessible options. There is a load to see and do in a small space. I’m surprised so many backpackers go straight to Peru and miss out this beautiful, rich and diverse country.
Ecuadorians are far less concerned with health and safety than we are in England, for example it’s perfectly acceptable and usual to hitch a ride in the back of an open truck (although it is no longer fine to ride on the roof of the Nariz del Diablo – Devil’s Nose – train following the decapitation of two tourists).
In many parts of Ecuador, city or countryside, people seem to take care of their appearance. The men are snappy dressers, clearly taking time to consider what matches and what fits them well. The one time they relax this rule is when they’re out and about in the midday heat, and then their tops get rolled up to expose a bit of belly. The women seem to like tight jeans and low cut tops which sometimes fail to stop ample cleavages from spilling out. Modern Ecuadorian dress code, it would be fair to say, is not about hiding ones shape. Traditional dress is still worn by a surprisingly high number of people and this is far more modest with below-the-knee skirts and full tops.
There are stray dogs all over the place, but unlike South East Asia where I’ve found the dogs are more aggressive with pack mentality, here in Ecuador they seem to wander around solo looking forlorn and hoping to latch on to an owner. It’s not unusual to get back to a hostel with a dog in tow. It’s as though they’ve had the energy sapped out of them and they just want to be loved.
All buses tend to show movies at some point on a journey, and it is perfectly normal to show violent or sexual films at any time of day (for example on prison fighting or sex trafficking). Small boys and grown men watch fierce, bloody scenes, goggle-eyed, whilst the women and young kids doze. Usually dubbed in Spanish, the driver will occasionally stick on English subtitles for the benefit of any on board tourists. I’ve heard a fair few travellers say that bus movies have helped them progress their Spanish skills significantly (although the asynchronicity of sound and vision can be pretty annoying at times).