Ten Things We Won’t Miss When We Leave Ecuador

10. The Lack of P-Traps
The P-trap is an easy to install, simple invention meant to allow drainage of waste water into the sewer and prevent the escape of sewer gas back out. Apparently, these don’t (or rarely) exist here. So because of this, our social/guest bathroom smells like the entire 4 floors of the apartment defecated in there and didn’t flush if we leave the window and door closed. It probably wouldn’t smell so awful if we regularly used the shower, but we opted to use it for storage since there were exposed electrical wires on the shower head and our landlords left it rather dirty and I didn’t feel like scrubbing/disinfecting two showers. Even a tile placed over the drain doesn’t keep out the stench. Gag!

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The stinky drain. Notice the landlords didn’t bother cleaning it before we moved in.

9. Noise Pollution
Of course, this is mostly an issue in the city. People seem to have no concern for making noise at any time of day or night. They honk their horns, blare their music, shoot off fireworks any time they wish, wear high heels and tap, tap, tap on the tile floor upstairs, let their dogs roam the city, barking, etc. Car and house alarms go off round the clock. The gas man drives by multiple times every day honking his horn. Also, every morning around 4:30 or 5 the street cleaners roll their garbage cans along the uneven streets. My personal favorite, probably because they seem to schedule their drive by our apartment according to the nap schedules, are the trucks that drive by selling fruits and veggies or offering to buy your junk. They blare out advertisements from megaphones atop their trucks, “mandarinas un dolar!”

20140301-072143.jpgOkay, this noise pollution isn’t awful. I would get excited when one of these small neighborhood parades would promenade by. But I have heard that in some neighborhoods the bands may practice at 5 am. I would not be so delighted to hear them that early in the morning!

8. Air Pollution
Diesel fuel is commonly used here. The buses, and they are a frequent form of transportation here, are all diesel-fueled. The fumes are heavy in the air, especially in the city center. You will often see people walking around with scarves wrapped around their faces. There is a permanent black dust present on everything, including our floors.

20140301-071628.jpgBuses are a big polluter and they are also a good reason I hate driving here. In this photo he’s cutting us off.

7. Tile Floors and Having to Constantly Sweep and Mop
See number 8. We have to sweep at least daily and mopping must be done at least twice weekly because a black dust from the diesel exhaust fumes settles on the floors. Plus, tile floors and a new walker are not so fun. And the women here love wearing heels and apparently find it unnecessary to remove them once home, particularly the woman upstairs from us. The call them tacos because they tack, tack, tack on the hard floors.

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My daughter’s filthy socks. We could’ve just mopped and they’d look the same!

6. Overpopulation of Dogs
One of the reasons we’ve decided to head back to the states is it appears that veterinarians are not used very often for what we have been trained to do, treating and preventing illnesses and injuries in animals. It seems very few people neuter their pets or keep them indoors, let alone confined to their property. Because of this, we have seen numerous pets roaming the streets, limping along on a previously injured leg. The veterinary clinics seem to be nothing more than a dispensary and feed store. And even if they are doing an ok business treating animals if the dentist only charged us $25 to clean our teeth, I shudder to think of what measly salary we would make here. I know the cost of living is lower here, but I’m not sure it’s that low.
Also the rampant breeding and freedom of these dogs only adds to the excess noise of the city.

20140301-103140.jpgJust after this photo we met another VERY friendly street dog that kept humping Cory’s leg.

5. Fumbling Through My Spanish
Don’t get me wrong, I am so grateful for the opportunity to become more fluent in Spanish. I studied the language for a total of six years in high school and college and grew up in Texas where the Hispanic population has surpassed the Caucasian population. But it has been many years since my last Spanish class. My Spanish has improved since moving here and if I didn’t have the girls I would’ve loved taking lessons to improve my comprehension even further. I envy those that can fluently speak more than one language. But for now it is exhausting having to constantly try and understand what people are saying to me. Often I get the gist of what is being said, or I finally realize what they meant five minutes after they’ve said it. I do have a great appreciation for people that speak slowly and clearly and use their hands to help me understand. I hope I am the same way when speaking English with people that do not speak English as a first language.
I would love to continue learning Spanish once we return. It is a beautiful language and becoming fluent in it is definitely on my bucket list. There are no photos of this but I’m certain I have written many texts and email messages recently that sounded like a drunk 3 year old speaking Spanish.

4. Driving (Jessica)
Cory has grown to love the seemingly lack of road rules, winding mountain roads and aggressive driving. I, however, am quite happy allowing him to drive us everywhere. The one time I drove to Loja was quite enough Ecuadorian driving for me. I find it difficult and hair-raising enough being a passenger.

20140301-071945.jpgOn second thought, driving here is totally safe…just kidding.

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This was an accident a block up from us, one of at least 3 we’ve seen at that intersection in our 5 months here. Most certainly it was because some idiot ran the stop sign, or because the person without the stop sign didn’t warn the person with the stop sign that they were coming through with a courteous honk.

3. Lack of Seasons
While I adore the mild temperatures it is odd not having seasons. Having been in the Southern US most of my life, I am used to having an extra long summer with shorter springs, autumns and winters, but there were still signs of them, even if they only lasted for a couple of weeks.

20140301-071245.jpgIt’s perpetually Spring here.

2. Men Urinating in Public
It is very common to see a car pulled over along the road with a man walking back to it zipping his trousers up, or someone facing a tree, transformer box, or the river, relieving themselves. I even saw a tot at the produce market run out hurriedly, pulling his pants down to urinate in the drain.

20140301-070717.jpg Ok, this is not a man, but it is my child urinating in public. I wasn’t too interested in taking pictures of strangers urinating. It may not have ended well.

1. Lack of or Expense of Certain Products Easily Obtained in the US
Cost of living is rather cheap here. There are many things that can be obtained quite inexpensively. We’ve found that the Coral Hipermercado (basically their equivalent of Wal Mart) had many inexpensive products, most likely things that were rejected from the US. The mis-translated English words on the packaging are entertaining. Some cheap wall decals we purchased for Miss P’s birthday advertised that they were laser flavor. Yummy!
On the other hand, if you want to purchase something like electronics, automobiles, or name brand items (basically any quality items imported from the US) be prepared to shell out a lot of dinero. For instance, a brand new Toyota Hilux (Tundra) with 4wd, and non-power windows will cost you 40K, a set of Igloo coolers, $90, a jar of Peter Pan peanut butter, $6 and a large jar of Nutella, nearly $11. But gas is $1 a gallon for diesel, fruit and veggies cost pennies, and a very filling lunch at a restaurant may cost as little as $3.

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We’re so thankful my dad came a couple times while we lived here and brought us some goodies from the US.

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A couple products I suspect were US rejects. Look how excited that kid appears to have Electric Blocks and I like to call that Barbie (and each one of them looked the same), ‘Go Home, You’re Drunk’ Barbie.

A few others to mention are
Scorpions and their cousins, the giant spiders, at the farm.
Coins, dollar bills are rare here.
Choclo and Mote. These large and white kernel, nearly tasteless corn (similar to hominy) are served alongside and in many dishes here. We definitely look forward to enjoying it’s US cousin, sweet yellow corn.

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Now that I’m looking at the photos I won’t miss the large haba beans either. They’re kinda like lima beans but worse.

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