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Global travel blog that features travel stories on living, traveling and growing up in cities, villages and towns around the world!
Quito, Ecuador is located high in the Andes mountains. This beautiful city is a mix of historical and modern, with buildings dating back as far as the 1500’s nestled right next to brand new, modern office buildings.
For 12 years, my family and I called Quito our home. We learned to speak Spanish, immersed ourselves in the culture and when we left to return to the US permanently, a part of us remained firmly rooted in our adopted country.
The people in this lovely city are warm and welcoming to expats, but there are some things that we learned while we were there that can make visiting or moving there easier if you know them ahead of time.
Learning to greet someone properly is the gateway to acceptance in this lovely, warm culture. When meeting someone for the first time, it’s important to shake hands – and the traditional greeting is “Mucho gusto”. Loosely translated, this means “Pleased to meet you.”
Although we have since returned to the US, I find myself daydreaming about our life there and wondering if we will ever find occasion to return - even for a visit.CM
If you have formed a relationship with someone, you may greet them with a “besito” or “little kiss” on the cheek. Typically men do not besito men, however women and men besito each other.
Quito is home to many artisan markets, with beautiful artwork, textiles, jewelry and handicrafts for sale. Spending time at the markets is a lovely way to spend the day, and bargaining with the artisans is both cultural and fun. It’s always good to remember that, ultimately, these are works of art created by people who are using this as a means to support their families. While it is enjoyable to bargain, keep the tone light and don’t insult the quality of the work by insisting on ridiculously low prices. Typically, getting $1-$2 off of the price of an item is considered “good taste”. If you are asking for more than that, it can be construed as an insult.
Ecuadorian cuisine is, in a word, wonderful. There are so many dishes that I could recommend you try. Keeping an open mind and being willing to try new things will open up a whole new world of culinary delights for you.
Portion sizes are smaller and meat is considered an accompaniment rather than the main course. A “typical” Ecuadorian meal will include, in some form or another…
*It is important to note that while Ecuadorian cuisine is wonderful, you should be careful what you eat and, more importantly, where you eat it. We never ate anything off of the street (although you’ll want to—it smells heavenly), and were careful about the restaurants that we visited. Be especially careful with salads and juices. If you are not sure, it’s best to skip them as you can get very sick very quickly from eating food that has not been prepared with clean water/utensils.
Places to visit
You’ll no doubt have the usual tourist attractions on your list, but there a few “off the beaten path” places that are delightful to visit as well.
Places to volunteer
If you are looking for a way to volunteer while you are in Quito, there are several organizations that use volunteer help. Be sure to contact them ahead of time to ensure that there is programming happening during the time that you plan to be there.
Living in Quito was an experience that changed my life in so many ways. Although we have since returned to the US, I find myself daydreaming about our life there and wondering if we will ever find occasion to return, even for a visit. Until then…Ciao, lindo Quito de mi vida!
Also check out Cusco, Peru.