My Expectations for Ecuador

Ecuador is a place we have never been. I want to record my expectations for our life there so that after we have settled in, I can see if they match reality.

Can you tell which are Argentine and which are American?

I expect that my family and I will stick out like sore thumbs. We have lived in places where we have managed to blend. We are of European decent and that means during our assignments to Europe we could blend fairly well. Living in Buenos Aires it wasn’t too hard either. Both Germans and Italians immigrated to Argentina. I am a tad paler than most, but my husband looks like he could have some Italian blood and my boys might be dark blond Germans. Unfortunately, our accents gave us away! Less talking, more listening!

In Ecuador, the population will be shorter and darker. Our pale skin and my very tall sons will give us away immediately. I think the best we can hope for is to be mistaken for Brazilians or Argentines. And why should we care, you ask? The last thing we want is to be thought of as tourists and most Americans in South America are that, tourists. All tourists are targets for crime, especially petty theft, but Americans are thought to be rich and tend to be targeted often. Therefore, we’ll work super hard to improve our Spanish and to blend where possible… the stereotypical American doesn’t speak other languages nor do they wear anything other than blue jeans, t-shirts, and tennis shoes.

Pasteles served with Api, a Bolivian drink made from purple corn. I wonder what we’ll find in Quito?

I expect that we will find wonderful fruits and vegetables and that we won’t recognize what all of them are. And that’s exciting. I love to try new foods.

We’re going to see animals, insects, flowers, and plants that we’ve never seen before!

I expect that some items for sale will be super expensive and other things will be a bargain and it won’t always make sense which is which. We’ve been warned that clothing costs a lot of money as do electronics of all kinds. It won’t be common for everyone to own an iPhone or an Android nor an iPad or an iPod but I bet the rich of Ecuador own them all. We were amazed in Argentina at how many people did own those items even though they cost so much more than in the United States. Which brings me to poverty… I expect to find extreme poverty and extreme wealth and am unsure what to expect in the middle. I’m even less certain where we will fit in this equation though I know we definitely will be thought rich by the locals.

I believe that the people will be very nice. That has been our experience with every move and I see no reason to think otherwise. People love to have others enjoy their country and their culture We will be arriving with open minds and open hearts. The combination should be a good one.

La Paz is the highest capital in the world. Quito is the second.

I hope that we’re all healthy enough to walk up a set of stairs without breathing hard. Quito is more than 9000 ft above sea level. We’re going to feel the altitude. Which brings me to…

I know we are all going to get sick. First, we will all experience some level of altitude sickness but we’re hoping it will be nothing worse than headaches and a sour stomach for a day or two. We know from our travels in Peru and Bolivia that one of us might even spike a fever but that all of us will recover within a day or two after the symptoms start. I’m told we won’t be drinking coca tea but there will be other local remedies that we might want to try. Second, we will all get some stomach bug that has nothing to do with the altitude. Although we will avoid drinking water from a tap, it is unrealistic to think that we will escape all those strange little bacteria. We’re not going to visit, we’re going to live and that means eating fresh fruits and vegetables that will likely be washed in local water. Better to get the bug early and be done with it, in my opinion.

We will also experience homesickness. It’s impossible not to. We are going to a culture very different from our own and though we are excited to start our new adventure, there will be a point when each of us just wants to escape back to the United States. Those are the moments when we’ll pull out the Indiana Jones movies, break out the popcorn and the hidden stores of Sour Patch Kids, and pretend we’re back home. A little mini-vacation of sorts and we’ll be ready to explore Ecuador once again.

What would you add to my list? Let me know in the comments below or at the NotYourAverageAmerican facebook page.

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