Etiquette in Ecuador: What to do and what to avoid
Just as any other country in the entire planet, Ecuador has some etiquette rules that you shouldn’t forget to follow when you visit this lovely place. Do you want to know what you should do or not when coming to Ecuador? Keep reading!
Most millenary traditions are still alive in this little paradise, passing from one generation to the next one through oral stories or just by what children see from their parents, relatives, acquaintances and friends. Some of them, like the predominance of “machismo”, or male chauvinism, are negative but still alive, but some others such as being friendly and direct, are customs that many first-world countries have lost with time and that should be recaptured.
Greeting is very important in Ecuador: it is a symbol of education, and after they know you, it becomes a sign of confidence and closeness. Ecuadorians are polite and respect foreigners, but they also like to treat them as part of their own family, to warm them up.
- When greeting a person in Ecuador, shake hands, smile and have a direct eye contact.
- When shaking hands, a plain “hello” is not enough: say “good morning”, “good afternoon”, or “good evening”, depending on the day time. Shake hands also when leaving.
If you are close enough to the person you are greeting, men can embrace and pat their male friends on the shoulder, and women kiss each other once on the cheek.
- Let Ecuadorians decide which will be the best greeting way.
If you speak a little Spanish, “Señor” (“Mr.”), “Señora” (“Mrs.”) or “Señorita” (“Miss”) are the common honorific titles for each person.
Only friends and very close people call others with their first names.
- If you are called by your first name, it gives you the right to do it too, and this is a sign of trust.
Just as in many countries, people from Ecuador give gifts on birthdays, New Year’s Eve, and religious events such as Christmas and the sacraments of Christening and First Communion.
Sweet 16s are celebrated when the girl is 15 years old (they are called “Quince años”, and the girls is called “Quinceañera”), and they are very popular in most South American countries. Don’t go to a “Quince años” party without a gift!
If somebody gives you a gift, open it immediately! It would be impolite no to do it.
When you are invited to an Ecuadorian party, sometimes it’s not necessary to bring anything.
- However, they appreciate if guests bring quality spirits, flowers, pastry or candies!
If you are a host, start the meal saying “buen provecho” (“enjoy” / “have a good meal”), and serve guests first.
- When toasting, say “¡Salud!” (“Cheers!”)
You can leave a small amount of food on the plate to show politeness.
Do not greet people you don’t know with kisses or pats! Only if they give you the permission to do so, do it.
When bringing flowers, do not bring marigolds or lilies. They are used at funerals.
Scissors and knives are a symbol of severing relationships. They are not appropriate gifts!
If you are invited to a house at 8 pm, do not be punctual. It may seem strange for some people, but South American countries have this tradition of starting their parties and appointments later than agreed, and it would be disrespectful to arrive on time or before.
Social meetings and parties are exclusively social. Do not discuss business during a party!
- Meals are always social meetings, and they can last hours since people tend to speak about many topics while eating. Do not stand from the table right after you finished eating!
When discussing business topics, avoid confrontation and being impolite. Ecuadorians tend to be full of courtesy and ask you in an in direct way the things they will need from you: do the same and you will be at the same level.
- Never promise anything you can’t do or give. It will be seen as rude, and Ecuadorians trust others’ words as they trust their actions.
Because we know and love Ecuador as well as Ecuadorians, Galapagos Center Expeditions wants you to keep in mind all the rules and necessary information for your stay to be the best ever!