Ecuador

Tourists should use common sense to ensure their safety. Avoid problems by not flashing large amounts of money, not visiting areas near the Colombian border, staying away from civil disturbances and not using side streets in big cities at night. Probably the biggest threat in most places is simple thievery: Belongings should not be left unguarded on the beach, for example, and pickpockets can be found in some of the more crowded areas, especially the Trolébus Metro in Quito, in bus terminals and on the buses themselves. Buses allow pedlars to board briefly and attempt to sell their wares; however, they are often thieves themselves, so keep a close eye out for them. Hotel personnel are generally good sources of information about places that should be avoided.

You can always ask tourist police officers, police officers or in Tourist information centre for the dangerous regions.

Ecuador offers great opportunities for hiking and climbing, unfortunately, some travellers have been attacked and robbed in remote sections of well known climbs - female hikers/climbers need to be extremely careful and never be alone. Travellers are urged to avoid solo hikes and to go in a large group for safety reasons.

Ecuador is widely considered to be a developing country and health hazards are a significant issue. Of the most significant are food-borne illnesses, though they can easily be treated with digestive drugs such as antacids or antidiarrheals.

Bottled water is key in Ecuador if you don't want to get sick. This doesn't only apply to foreigners who don't have the stomach for Ecuadorian food but also Ecuadorians who know that if they don't boil their water or drink it from the bottle that they can get very sick. As a result, it can be purchased almost everywhere even in the most remote places for well under $0.25-0.50. Water bottles are sometimes provided by hostels and hotels, which can be used for brushing teeth.

It is advisable to receive a typhoid vaccination, and possibly a yellow fever vaccination, depending on your specific area of travel.

Outside the major cities and tourist areas, malaria can be a problem along the coast during the rainy season.

radio and television

Radio and/or television is available in Spanish except in some of the particularly remote areas. English-language movies usually are shown in the original language with Spanish subtitles. Many hotels have cable television that includes English-language stations and/or premium movie channels that feature subtitled movies in their original languages. The same variety of different cable service offerings and a multiplicity of channel and languages are now readily available in all cities.

internet

President Correa is a big fan of the internet. Access is free in many restaurants and public areas and broadband is available from competing services and at good prices. For a few pennies, one can rent a connection at many facilities in every Ecuadorian town.

Internet cafes can be found nearly everywhere in the major cities and in many of the smaller ones. Cost is from $1 to $2 per hour in the large cities, and the better places have high-speed access. In some cafes, restaurants, and hotels you can find free Wi-Fi access, most of them protected by passwords; in most cases, you just have to ask for the password.

newspapers and magazines

Spanish-language newspapers and magazines can be purchased on the streets of cities but can be hard to find elsewhere. Some hotels catering to foreigners may have a small selection of English-language reading material.

talk

Spanish is the official language. Amerindian languages especially Quechua are generally spoken in the more rural, mountainous villages. English is widely spoken in hotels, restaurants and other businesses that cater to high-end travelers. Ecuadorians are friendly and generally tolerant of foreigners who attempt to speak Spanish but make mistakes.

telephone

For most visitors, the easiest place to make phone calls is an Internet cafe, most of which provide VoIP service at reasonable rates. You can call the United States for about $0.10 per minute and Europe for a bit more. Avoid making a phone call through an operator; the cost for an international call can be $3 or more per minute. For calls within Ecuador, it is possible to use a telephone cabin. This is an entire store front filled with telephones. Generally, you are assigned a booth by the proprietor, you make your call, then you pay as you leave. Calls within Ecuador are more expensive than domestic calls in most countries, but not unreasonable, except for calls to cell phones, which generate most of their revenue by charging the caller. Also, call prices increase depending on the distance of your call within Ecuador, based on city, province, etc. Visitors making an extended stay should consider purchasing a cell phone. Most are sold on a prepaid-call basis, and phone refill cards can be purchased in all but the smallest towns. It is also possible to get a modern GSM cellular phone "unlocked" so that it will function in Ecuador you can take your own phone, if it compatible with GSM 850MHz, however, this should be reserved for emergencies as the cost of actually making such a call is usually exorbitant about $0.45 per minute.

respect

The common greetings are "Buenos días", "Buenas tardes" or "Buenas noches", Good morning, Good afternoon, and Good evening, respectively. It is usually complemented by a handshake, between men, and by a kiss on the cheek between women or between a man and a woman. "Hola" is the most common greeting between friends and acquaintances. Note that, as in most Latin American countries, it's considered normal and polite to stand quite close to the other person while talking.

If you speak Spanish with Ecuadorian commoners, take note of the difference between the two forms for the pronoun "you": the informal "tú" and the formal "usted". It's customary to address older people and people with whom you're not familiar with "usted". Ecuadorians are generally forgiving of non-native speakers, but use "usted" when in doubt.

Among many other cultural idiosyncrasies, in the Sierra regions it is considered impolite to use a downward-facing palm as a reference for the height of a person. Instead, the hand is held on its side, and the measurement taken from the lower edge to the floor. Gesturing with the palm down is appropriate for animals only.

When motioning for someone to "come here," it is impolite to motion your hand with the palm facing up. Instead, use a downward swipe of the hand with the palm facing down.

Acceptable clothing varies by region of the country. In the mountainous Sierra region, including Quito, clothes are usually more warm because of the weather. On the coast, meanwhile, more casual clothes predominate.