There is a distinctly European concept in Ecuador about the day’s work and school hours. Most businesses open between 9 and 10 am then close between 1 and 3 pm so the proprietor and employees can leave for an extended meal at home. They then return to work at 3 pm and the establishment will stay open until 7 or 8 in the evening. There are some exceptions to this schedule like the Supermaxi markets, pharmacies, and gas stations which are open early and close late. You will find little auto or walking traffic on the streets during the luncheon hours when almost everyone goes home for the traditional, main meal of the day. After 8 pm most families have a light supper at home, often as little as a sandwich. Medically this has to be a more beneficial approach to eating than the typical North American heavy dinner which is hard to digest so close to bedtime. As a contradiction to this healthy supper, restaurants usually serve large meals for much less money than in the US or Europe. They generally open about 7 pm and are almost empty (except for gringos) until 9 pm when many families abandon the concept of the light supper and go out for a big, late dinner. You will often see a large family with young children at the table as late as 11 pm. Schools start around 8 am and end at about 1 pm, which for us is a short school day. We didn’t realize it but, with Jonny coming home in the early afternoon, we have easily adapted to having lunch at 2:00-2:30pm. Many children then participate in an afternoon activity like dance or tennis or swimming. The adjustment in working and school hours is not difficult once you get into the swing of it and begin to understand that most retail establishments will be closed in the early afternoon and will be open later than you are accustomed to. It also helps to appreciate the fact that you are in a foreign country with different customs and practices compared to what you might be used to.
A New Kind of Blog
There is a world of information about Ecuador. It is one of the most popular countries for people who want to retire to a place where the dollar goes much farther than in the US, a place for adventuresome families who want to experience a new language and exciting culture. However, much of what you read or hear does not touch on the practical, the problematic, or the local information necessary to make things work. There are many blogs which are basically daily diary’s from people who live here. But this blog will be different. We know how hard it is to get accurate and timely information. We have been through it. All of us who live here have learned step by step and we question whether it is necessary to have every newcomer reinvent the wheel. We hope this blog will help shorten the learning curve. There are many hurdles but all are surmountable. What is required is patience, an understanding of local ways, and a realization that you are going to live in a country which is not the same as the US, Canada, or Britain. Our choice was to live in the wonderful city of Cuenca in the Southern Sierra but this may not be your decision and you will therefore have to look further to find the answers you need for different areas like the coast or the Amazon. Please realize that all the suggestions and ideas are based on our experiences. Ecuadorian regulations change rapidly and must be checked before you make any investments or major decisions. Please email us at Sailorburr@gmail.com and let us know if you have any questions or comments.