Growing up, my parents taught me the three “Be’s” to keep me out of trouble. After living in and getting to know Ecuadorian culture, I find they work really well as a safety guide in urban areas like Quito, Cuenca, and Guayaquil. The three rules are: “Be Polite,” “Be Quiet,” and “Be Gone.” Let’s talk a little more about each one.
The Three B’s
This is always good advice, no matter the country. In Ecuador, being polite is part of the national DNA and you’ll get the same positive response everywhere, from the most humble mountain hut to the Presidential palace. Don’t speak Spanish? No problem. A smile, nod and Good Morning or Thank You will make a positive impression, regardless of the language. So what’s the benefit, if you never see these people again? Positive impressions make for connections and a connection with a local can keep you out of a bad situation.
Don’t take this to mean “don’t talk to people.” Talking to random people is how we have come to know where to go and what to do in Ecuador! In this case, “quiet” means blending with the crowd and not advertising your economic status. So, please keep your trophy handbags, watches, and sneakers at home in order to stay away from the local snatch and grab teams. They only have so much time in the day; your clothing and accessories can convince them you’re a good investment.
I’d sum this up as “if the place doesn’t feel right, leave.” If you’ve lived in any city, you know what this means. It can be as simple as a long stretch of street without any street lights in the middle of a bright neighborhood or as odd as people suddenly going into stores and locking the doors. Whatever the case, those little hairs on your neck pop up and you know something’s not right. This would not be a good time for you or the people you’re with to take just one more photo.
A simple personal safety guide, right? I can’t tell you how many times these little rules have kept me out of trouble in cities around the world. In Ecuador, the “three Bs” and staying out of the known trouble spots will go far in making your trip experience memorable for the right reasons.