There are four very different regions: the coast, with lowlands and beaches; the Sierra, a high and mountainous region; the Oriente, home to the Ecuadorian jungle and the famous Galapagos Islands.
Children International has two agencies in Ecuador; one in Quito, the capital of the country, which is in the Sierra, and another in Guayaquil, a coastal city.
Ecuador's capital city, Quito, seen from a mountain top.
Evening view of Ayangue beach.
We have two seasons, the dry and the rainy, which we locally call “summer” and “winter.” Our summer is mild and windy, and our winter is hot and rainy.
Ecuador cannot be described by talking only about beaches, mountains, jungle and islands. One must also know about its people, their behaviors and traditions.
At any time of day, you can see people eating with great enthusiasm the countless variety of typical dishes we have. They might be dining in a street stall, a restaurant, a fast‑food place or even on public buses. The variety of dishes prepared with green or ripe plantains are practically endless and deserve a special mention: We have bolón, patacones, tigrillo, tortillas, sango, cazuela, empanadas, fried plantains, plantains with cheese, battered plantains and more. Bananas, which are of the same species, are called “guineo” here and are part of the daily food of almost everyone in Ecuador.
Rice can never be missing at lunch and dinner; many people even have breakfast with a dish that includes rice. The most popular is a dish that has roast meat, stew (with beans or lentils) and rice. The soups are also appetizing: locros, encebollado, bola soup (of green plantain). And then there are the fresh seafood dishes, such as shrimp ceviches, lobster, rice with fish (rice again), crabs, squid, shells, oysters, etc.
Soccer is by far the favorite sport. The entire country practically comes to a standstill when the Ecuadorian team is in a match. There are very beloved soccer clubs whose fans blindly follow them and do everything in their power to attend matches. Fans even wear the team's shirt to go to work and spar with the opposing team, using unkind words and nicknames.
Ecuadorians deeply appreciate family life. Parents, grandparents, uncles and cousins get together quite often and share … guess what? Food and soccer!
Among the most typical customs is that of “asking for the yapa.” When buying five apples, for example, one asks for “la yapa,” which is something extra. We also like to bargain before buying something: “These pants cost $20, how much will they cost me?”
We also “save the place” for those who arrive late. That is, if a person arrives first at the cinema, for example, we’ll put our hand, jacket or our wallet on the next chair to “save the place” for those who have not arrived so that no one else sits there. We also do this in lines to enter a concert, to buy a hamburger and even to vote in elections.
Ecuadorians also have local expressions, and these are some of our most typical phrases:
As you can see, humor also characterizes Ecuadorians, in all circumstances. Even if something bad happens, these phrases or some other joke lighten the atmosphere like an escape valve to help persevere.
P.S. I almost forgot a very important fact. Ecuador has some of the most delicious chocolate in the world! And you can find so many varieties: single‑origin chocolate bars or bonbons, chocolate filled with cream or cherries, milk, dark or white chocolate with almonds, walnuts, peanuts … the list is practically endless.
Now that you know we have a variety of landscapes and climates (and chocolates), I invite you to visit all the wonderful places that my small and picturesque Ecuador has. I assure you that you will not regret it!
Patricia has worked at Children International Guayaquil for 20 years, and is the mother of two daughters and grandmother of two granddaughters.
Her work as a journalist helps show the needs of our children and youth through photos, videos and interviews, something important in the fight against poverty. Her favorite part is writing their stories. “Sharing the stories of our children and their families overcoming the challenges of poverty, with the support of CI, inspires me to want to be a better person”.