Ecuador Local Custom Tips by lenoreva
Ecuador Local Customs: 56 reviews and 78 photos
my 19th birthday
Ecuadorians have a fun little custom - on your birthday they like you to "morder el pastel" (bite the cake). This basically means they gang up on you and shove a cake into your face. Don't worry, you'll still be able to eat your cake too - they usually make two cakes, one for eating and the other for shoving!
the formerly disputed border
Did you know? Maps of Ecuador other than those actually made in Ecuador were banned until 1998. This is because they looked very different. The Ecuadorian version of the Ecuadorian map was much larger and claimed the area disputed with Peru. In 1998, the presidents of both countries called a truce. 1 square mile of land was symbolically given to Ecuador in exchange for Ecuador's renouncement of all claims. Since then, the relations between these neighbors has improved dramatically.
me, the viejos and my sweet aunts!
If you are in Ecuador over New Years, you'll probably get a chance to see the local custom of burning effigies called "anios viejos". These are normally made with paper mache and usually depict unpopular politicians or old people. They burn them as if to say "out with the old, and in with the new" and it is thought to bring good luck.
New Years 1993-1994, I was in Santa Rosa, on the coast and we toured the streets checking out all the effigies shortly before midnight. Then, it began to rain and we dashed inside. So we saw the effigies, but no burning.
All Souls Day, on November 2nd, is an important day for Ecuadorians. It is also a good time to visit a cemetary, which I found to be quite different that what I am used to in the states. Many graves are actaully set in towers of concrete boxes. During my exchange year, I went with my host family to lay flowers on some anscestors graves in Riobamba. There were tons of people at the cemetary doing the same - very colorful and culturally interesting.
Sucres were prone to high inflation
Since 2000, Ecuador uses US$ as its only legal tender. Its old currency, the sucre is still in use in some rural areas and is very colorful and fun to collect.
Carnival is celebrated over 3 days, usually in Feb or March, to welcome the onset of Ecuador's rainy season. This is a prime example of a festival with indigenous roots that has been transformed somewhat by catholic tradition. It has elements of Mardi Gras (parades, colorful clothing, dancing in the streets) mixed with something unique to Ecuadorian culture: the throwing of water! Pretty much wherever you are during this time, you are likely to get hit by water ballons. (Kids sure love them! ) But the highland city of Guaranda, south of Quito, is carnival central. This is the "new orleans" of Ecuador, where locals are especially exuberant, adding flour throwing into the watery mix.
It's also traditional to drink lots of "chicha", an alcoholic beverage made from corn.
If you don't want to get drenched during Carnival time, go to Ambato. Water ballons are outlawed - instead they have the Festival of Fruits and Flowers, which is colorful and interesting in its own right.
at the bullfight
If you are in Quito during the first week of December, you might want to check out a bullfight. December 6th, the anniversary of the founding of Quito, is a huge party - with dancing in the streets (esp. to the tradtional song "Chulla Quiteno") and parades. On each of the 8 days leading up to Dec. 6th, there is a morning bullfight and an evening bullfight in the main "Plaza de Toros". This is a very interesting experience. Outside you can buy wine or beer in plastic baggies (no cans or bottles allowed inside the arena) - which certainly makes for an interesting atmosphere.
Did you know? The panama hat is actually originally from Ecuador. You can buy one fairly cheaply in Jipijapa. Never tell an Ecuadorian that your 'panama' hat is from Panama!
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