The Real Ecuador According to Don Nadie, expats and future expats take note

Posted on February 9, 2016 • Filed under: Culture, Ecuador, Ecuador Services, Ecuador Travel

In 35 years of studying the “emerald of the Andes”, Ecuador, I have been fortunate to learn a few things about this beautiful yet very complicated country and I am still learning. One thing that is important to note is that friendships take a very long time to develop in Ecuador. I am not talking about superficial kinds of friendship but the type of relationship built on understanding and trust and that endures a lifetime.

I have very few of these types of friends in Ecuador but I will tell you one thing, I trust and depend on them as they do me. One of my closest friends I have never revealed to anyone. His knowledge of the country is like gold and he asked me never to reveal his true identity. He is a very private individual and I am honored that he treats me as a confidant. Whenever I want to really know what goes on in Ecuador I go to him. He knows I am a writer and he does not mind I share his insight as long as he can remain anonymous. In fact I think he takes pride in knowing he has been written about.

I call him “Don Nadie” which literally says in Spanish “Mr. Nobody”. He likes being referred to as a nobody as he continues his life quietly undisturbed in the hamlet of Salitre outside of Guayaquil. I met him merely by chance one day many years ago during a Montubio rodeo in Salitre. We were both quite a bit younger than we are now and for whatever reason he took a liking to me when I told him I was really trying to learn about the real Ecuador. And over 35 years he has shown me and explained to me in minute detail the “underbelly” of the country.

I am about to share with you some of Don Nadie’s insight into his Ecuador. He will be the first to say that some of his comments are not always universally true in Ecuador as there are exceptions to every rule or stereotype. But he will say if you read carefully the lines below and digest them that you will clearly have a better understanding of the culture of the “underbelly” of Ecuador. The following excerpt is taken from the book 100 Points to Consider Before Moving or Retiring in Ecuador a book that Don Nadie recommends that any expat or future expat should read for a deeper understanding of the unique and complicated culture of Ecuador. NC

Don Nadie’s “The real truth”


Don Nadie

The following revelations, or sharing of what I believe are truths about being an Ecuadorian and a Montuvio, are things I believe any expatriate or potential expatriate should pay attention to. While I say some of this in jest, these points should be considered. Of course, they are not 100 percent accurate all the time, as in Ecuador, all things are possible. However, read them and ponder them. At the least you will be more “sabido” about the culture here in Ecuador.

1. If you think Ecuador holds all the cards in terms of your future happiness, please heed my advice. Never ever purchase a home or property until you have at least spent an entire year here. Let yourself go through the honeymoon and transition phase. Ecuador is not always the paradise that is touted in the press.

2. The Spanish language is going to be a huge barrier throughout much of your time here. If you think you are going to take a course here for a short period and be able to sit down and make friends, you may find this difficult. We have many code words and special cultural methods of communication. You might like my friend Nicholas Crowder’s book Spanish Slang – Ecuador’. You will learn many of Ecuador’s unique lexicon.

3. If you have a fantasy that you are going to move down here and blend in like a local, let me use an English slang word, it “ain’t” going to happen. Often it is someones ego telling them that they are important by going what I call “native”. We have Ecuadorians that do the same thing with the U.S. They try to behave or act like a North American. We call it “agringado”. I believe it is better to be who you are and learn to accept and enjoy the other culture for what it is. I am a “Montuvio” and I am proud of my past and culture.

4. You may think you will be accepted, but in reality you will always be seen as a gringo or an outsider. Oh, the people that are building your house or working for you will smile, but when the job is done, they are gone. They view you generally as a means to an end. The end is cash.

5. There are a several types of thieves in Ecuador. First, the outright thieves get in your face and take anything you have. Second, the sometimes immigration thieves that make the whole process so onerous you give up. Sure, there are periodic changes in the system but it always reverts back to its core roots of self-serving, corrupt individuals with greed in their heart. There are exceptions to this or no one would be moving to Ecuador. Third, there are the thieves that smile and charm you until they get what they want out of you. In Ecuador, these types are very stealth and difficult to detect. Most Ecuadorians are not that interested in you for friendship (unless there is something they can sell you or get out of you). They are also not really interested in cultural exchange or those little gifts that you bring bearing friendship.

I once knew this woman from Esmeraldas, well let’s call her a lady of the evening. She worked at a bar in Guayaquil for many years and once she invited me to buy her a drink. Being a gallant and proud Montubio, I accepted her invitation; of course I was expected to pay. It was near the New Year and we sat down together, and the waiter brought over the rum and a bottle of Coke. I poured the rum and the Coke and stirred it for her. She picked up the glass and said in a toast “Don Nadie,” you know we here in Ecuador have the best and the worst of human behavior. However, you and I both know that in the end, “todos somos putas” (we are all whores).

Don Nadie’s rules to live by in Ecuador are contained in the book 100 Points to Consider Before Moving or Retiring in Ecuador.

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