The "I'll miss this when I leave Ecuador - top 5
1. A dollars’ worth.
For $1,- you can get half a kilo of strawberries, 20 bananas a bag full of bread, four rolls of toilet paper, an illegal copy of a dubbed bad action movie or a homemade cd of a local artist. You can also travel an hour by bus or ten minutes by taxi, stay in a cyber for two hours, or top up your credit. Yes, you can do that per dollar (!).
Multiply your dollar an dyou can have lunch for $2,-; get a haircut for $3,50; buy an $8,- pair of shoes or rent a room with your own bathroom for $100,- a month.
2. I’m not crazy, I’m a… bus stop.
Whenever, wherever, and no matter where you want to go: you can just stand next to the road and wave when a bus passes that goes in the right direction. You hardly even have to wait for longer than ten minutes, there’s almost as many buses as there are taxi’s.
A bus trip is always $0,25 if you don’ t leave Quito. That will be a serious adaptation and planning challenge when I’m back where people use the principle of a timetable. Let alone getting used to how fast your OV-credit (Dutch version of the Oyster card) evaporates!
3. Don’t go shopping. Just don’t.
For someone who doesn’t like shopping, Quito is the ideal place to be. You can buy e-ve-ry-thing from street vendors everywhere on your way home or somewhere else: shoelaces, toilet paper, fly swatters, rocking horses, incense, ground coffee, newspapers or a Spiderman suit, a “second hand” phone, toothpaste, a new outfit for your dog, a panama hat (did you know that’s actually an Ecuadorian product?), flags, remote controls and TV antennas, miracle drugs against… well, practically against anything, but mainly the most common health problems (all of them!) and whatever else is bothering you.
If you have a dollar, you never have to be hungry, wether you walk the streets or take a bus. If you’re heading for somewhere outside Quito, the food comes walking by automatically: there’s vendors with fruit, sweets, chicken and rice (there’s no place where there’s no chicken and rice!) and cold drinks.
At the market you can find about 368 kinds of exotic fruit in all colors, shapes, measures and flavors that you can imagine (or not). And they’re all almost for free.
Besides that, everything ‘s also available as “jugo” (juice) of one kind of fruit or a combination.
That’s going to be an “is this all?”-feeling at the fruit section of the Dutch supermarket!
5. Chaos everyday and an irregular life.
(There’s a saying in Dutch: “Chaos every day is a regular life too.”)
There’s no such thing here as: “That can’t be true!” Everything is possible, because, quoting the Ecuadorians themselves: “This is Ecuador!” Even if you’d want to, there’s no way to escape; whether you’re at work, at home or travelling, you’ll always have to adjust, switch things, jump in / out and improvise. You’ll never know, and though that surely isn’t something with only positive consequences, it definitely keeps you alert, causing situations that make you put in perspective our own urge to organize and control everything.
We’ll see how I’ll be doing with that Ecuadorian view when I’m surrounded by Dtuch structure and control again. At least I count on a few fines, because “whether or not something’s allowed” is not important “when it’s possible”. Or actually, not even “when it’s not possible”. In the end, this is Ecuador. Everything is possible. :).