Ojo (notice): For anyone planning to travel to Ecuador (for May Term, SST, or another reason), this handy list of tips is the best travel resource at your disposal after Duolingo.
The expert advice provided here will make sure you know exactly what is expected of you as you live into your gringo persona abroad. Cut this page out and stick it in your back pocket (or your money belt if you’re as serious a world traveler as my dad, Jerrell Richer) for easy access wherever your travels take you.
Disclaimer: if you are traveling to a country outside of Latin America, the term “gringo” will probably not apply to you, but you may still find this advice helpful.
- Use your outside voice. At all times. Tanner-Camp-at-a-basketball-game volume is the gold standard. It is your duty to make sure every Ecuadorian within a two-mile radius of you knows there is a gringo in town.
- Pet the dogs. It doesn’t matter whether they have dreadlocks, flees or rabies; they are “cute” and deserve to be petted by you.
- Order off of the menu. Instead of getting the “almuerzo” (the pre-prepared meal of the day) when you eat out, order one of the 50 other items on the menu. This will ensure you spend at least 200 percent more than everyone else in the restaurant on your lunch, and get to wait from 45 minutes to two hours longer to receive your food. If you see the cook duck out of the restaurant with a shopping bag in hand, that is an extra point for you.
- Wear zip-off hiking pants.
- The worse you smell, the better. Your best strategy will be to avoid showering. During your travels, a green bottle of deet perfume will be your cosmetic of choice.
- Ask for the vegetarian option. When you are served a plate of shredded cabbage, salted onions, and half an avocado, ask indignantly where the protein is.
- Scratch your bug bites. This may not seem like a question to you, but that’s because you’re already a better gringo than you think. The secret to bug bites is the more you scratch them, the bigger and itchier they become. So itch away! If your legs don’t look like you have chicken pox, you’re not living into your full gringo potential.
- Walk like you are in a hurry. You don’t have time to be stuck behind a group of teenagers in school uniforms strolling down mainstreet. Once you march past them, you can stop to check your map.
- Bargain your “baby alpaca” hat from 5 dollars down to 4. Then pay with a 20-dollar bill.
- Carry a full roll of toilet paper with you at all times. You might think that a small wad in your purse would suffice, but that would put you at risk of fitting in with the locals. When you are actually on your way to the restroom, you will probably want to carry the roll in plain sight. This will ensure the maximum comic benefit for the Ecuadorians you pass on the way. Did I forget to tell you your number one job as a gringo is to make the locals laugh (at you) as much as possible?