I just traveled through the country of Ecuador. In many ways, I was happy to be in a Latin American country, practicing my Spanish, and seeing new sites.
At a certain point, though, I began to get tired of all the bullshit.
Here are 10 ways you might get jipped while traveling through Ecuador.
// Begin rant.
10. Look at the price of a Snickers bar.
Look, Ecuador, I know you don’t have great food and all. Your desayunos are nothing spectacular– toast and jam. Your almuerzos are bland– tasteless soup and some meat— and, apart from certain special restaurants, your dinners consist of two choices: hamburgers and fries, or chicken and fries.
So, you could have at least offered me a Snickers bar for 50 cents, and not the price of a freakin taxi fare.
9. Have someone tell you something cost $X. Ask if the price includes Y and Z as well. Hear the Ecuadorian say “yes”, only to later find out, right when you are in the middle of doing Y and Z, Y and Z cost extra.
This happened on several occasions, including at restaurants, gyms, and stores. Each time, some extra charge always comes up at the last moment. Eventually you wonder if they have ever considered customer experience in their life.
For example: Want to go to use the basketball court? OK that will be $5.
“Does that include the whole facility, like the weight room, pool and racquetball court?” “Yes.”
Later: Oh, the side weight room costs $3 extra. The pool costs $3 extra. The racquetball court costs $3 extra.
And by the way, this will have nothing to do with your level of Spanish. Speak perfect Spanish and this will still happen to you.
8. Have someone not tell you at all (until the end) that you are incurring a charge.
Look, after a few times of having a misunderstanding in a foreign country with regards to payment, you take extra caution. In fact, I made it a point to ask the handful of people standing outside the club until I understand perfectly clear whether or not there will be a charge for something…
For example, I walk into a club and ask “Hay un cover?” They tell me no, give me a wrist band and let me walk in.
Just for good measure, I ask the 2 more workers standing next to the door… “Gratis para entrar?” Yes, they reply.
Only when we are leaving do we learn the cover was $15 and that we now have to pay it in order to leave.
Is this how you keep customers happy, discotecas of Ecuador?
7. The country’s capital is the thievery capital of the region.
You expect to visit Quito and have a great time… maybe blog about it, maybe spend some time there, invest my money, start a family there?
Turns out every single person I have talked to who has visited Quito has either been robbed, seen a robbery, or had a close friend or family member be robbed there. Even when I was there, my buddy’s cousin was robbed 2 blocks from my hostel, and another buddy had $3000 of photo equipment stolen… On top of this, some of you Ecuadorians had the nerve to tell him it was his fault?
Ecuador, if I can help it, I will not be returning to your capital.
6. Crime even on the beach.
It would be one thing if the thievery were confined to the capital. That would leave the rest of the country for us to explore in peace. But no...
The sleepy town of Canoa, a place with little but hostels and beaches, had suspect security at best. Two girls I met were robbed as they were walking down the beach. Another girl I met was choked by a man and only saved by her friend. And there’s the rumor of the body of an American tourist found in a trash can.
I’m not sure what you’re hoping for, Ecuador, but you’ve got to give me something more than some tasty watermelon to get me to stay… Is it any wonder I was inspired to write not one, but two posts on minimizing your theft exposure while touring your cities?
5. Lack of clarity.
On hikes, on bus routes, and on maps in general, there seems to be a penchant for not being clear. Sometimes there aren’t signs, sometimes the signs are unclear, sometimes the signs are wrong.
Like the time I went hiking in Baños and got totally lost high in the mountains among some cows.
And I’m not that dumb! I followed all the signs, yet still ended up swatting mosquitoes and bush-wacking my way back to civilization.
Don’t expect 100% clarity on things you do in Ecuador.
4. Clubs that play Ecuadorian ska.
In the clubs, I understand the playing of the standard rotation of latin music, like reggaeton among others. I can take the Pitbull, the Daddy Yankee, the Don Omar. All good.
But, honestly, after the 10th Black Eyed Peas run through, I get a little worried. Sometimes I would wonder if the DJs even know what good music is, or are they trying to import their experience from somewhere else.
And then they put on some of their own music, like this Ecuadorian ska I heard, which sounds like a high school band suffering from an identity crisis.
[*** Sorry for being harsh on this point, Ecuador. If you want to show me some of your good Ecuadorian ska or rock, I'd be willing to change my mind. But keep in mind I have looked long and hard for good Ecuadorian rock and cannot find any.***]
3. Sidewalks not for walking.
Unless you really enjoy the experience of stepping over the incessant oncoming of crevices, uneven pavement, jagged pieces of concrete, broken stones, metal pipes, curbs, and sinkholes — not to mention the occasional disappearance of the sidewalk altogether– you will not like walking on the sidewalks.
Occasionally there’s a sidewalk that pushes you into oncoming traffic, like in Cuenca.
This can be frustrating.
Why don’t we call them “stumblewalks”, it would be more accurate.
2. Taxi cabs without functioning doors.
OK, I understand in a developing country the cabs might not be in the best shape, but I literally almost fell out of a taxi on the way to Guayaquil airport.
Not only did the taxi driver do a complete U-turn in front of 4 lanes of traffic in the middle of the intersection, not only did the seat belt not work, and not only did the door fly open, putting my life at risk, but we continued to drive for half a mile more, the door clinging to my outstretched arm.
The Ecuadorian police also ostensibly tried to extort money out of my cab driver. And you don’t have meters in your cabs.
Not a good taxi experience, Ecuador.
You charged me $5 for this 5 minute experience, when I should have charged you that much for saving your worthless cab.
1. Hearing a club say ‘barra libre’ only to have it retracted at the end of the night.
OK, so it should be a recurring theme that in Ecuador you will all of a sudden be charged certain things you didn’t think you would be charged for, but this experience of mine was the height of ridiculousness.
See, I had been to this club at least twice before. I knew the routine. Each Thursday night is ladies night. Free drinks for the ladies, discounts for the guys etc.
So on this particular Thursday night I was excited when not one, not two, not three, not four, but all FIVE employees we asked upon entry stated that it was ‘barra libre’, meaning open bar, for everyone.
We had a great night, and it could have been one of the better nights ever, except when it came to the bill at the end of the night, when suddenly we were told $170.
Hey Ecuadorian bouncers, are you ridiculously stupid? My friend and I asked you 5 times whether it was bare libre, and you said unequivocally said yes. OH, but nowwww, at the end of the night, we need to get out and you’ve got the upper hand.
Even though we explained the situation to your manager and to your owner, hoping to have further conversation, your ridiculous delays and avoidance of my calls showed you did not give a rats ass what happened.
So, congratulations, Dos Dos night club of Cuenca, Ecuador… You and your pawns are the number 1 way a person might be jipped while visiting Ecuador.
// End rant.