Sometimes, a vacation doesn’t have to be a-thrill-a-minute and it doesn’t have to consist of traipsing around Hollywood back lots hoping to glimpse famous movie stars. Cruises cost a mint and ski trips aren’t for everyone. But if it’s sunshine, history and natural wonders you’re after, don’t look further than beautiful Ecuador. Not only is there plenty to do and see, but it’s incredibly inexpensive to make your way there, get around and have a fantastic time!
The culture of Ecuador will open your eyes to a people who, while not financially prosperous, are definitely rich with happiness and family values. Blissfully unaware of the big business that goes on elsewhere in the world, here, the stock market is far from the cares of the thirteen million Ecuadorians who live far more simply than their First World relatives.
Good conduct and manners are as much a part of the culture of Ecuador, as are the colorful dances and vibrant music that form the basis of so many festivals celebrated here. This is a polite society of people who care for each other and foster a community spirit. Tourists are welcomed with pleasure and greeted warmly and many have returned from Ecuador vowing to visit again.
Don’t miss exploring the bustling markets where you can buy myriad handmade items crafted with pride by the locals. In Guayaquil, the Chamber of Artisans of the Guayas province collaborated with City Hall to provide the use of a large building to house shops and exhibits and to allow artisans of the community to sell their beautiful work. You’ll find these at very reasonable prices. In Quito, Ecuador’s capital situated about fourteen miles south of the equator, a diverse array of offerings is available, from alpaca crafts, panama hats, antiques, wool blankets and rugs; not just souvenirs of your vacation, but little pieces of the culture of Ecuador that you can take home. Try Otavalo on Saturdays and Wednesdays for paintings, baskets, leather products and woodcarvings. Though you may not feel it appropriate to bargain for items that are already very cheap, it’s considered customary to engage in bartering. Food markets are hugely popular for the exotic delicacies and fresh, locally grown basics, all price ‘as cheap as chips’.
When the Spaniards conquered this land in the mid 1500’s, they saw the indigenous population as very primitive. In an effort to ‘civilize’ them, they imposed Catholicism and even now, the religion is fairly widespread and forms a basic element of the culture of Ecuador. Still, many ethnic groups have chosen to retain their own belief systems and celebrate their ancient customs and traditions as they always have. The Spaniards were also responsible for introducing their own language, which remains Ecuador’s official language today. The Indian population speak Quichua, an Inca language and aside from those, ten other native tongues are spoken.
Step back in time and revisit the historical national culture of Ecuador. Each museum has its own flavor. Some focus on the colonial era and others feature more ancient relics. Either way, you’ll take away with you an education about the way these people lived before and since the Spanish conquest. Entry is often free or by donation.
The culture of Ecuador is rooted in its history, but in more modern times, the country’s political agenda appears to hold its economy back. The lion’s share of Ecuador’s wealth is in the hands of a select few and the middle class is an insignificant sector compared to that in other countries. With the greater majority of the population surviving beneath the poverty line, it seems this beautiful nation’s future is not destined to be a prosperous one. So, with few export opportunities, tourism is essential to its survival. Travelling to Ecuador is win/win for both tourists and the delightful inhabitants.