Things People Never Expected While Traveling Abroad

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Things People Never Expected While Traveling Abroad


The following are actual real-life experiences of the strangest differences noticed while traveling internationally:

“I lived in Japan for a year. The satellite radio at my school had a channel called ‘Rokki’ that played the Rocky theme song on a loop 24/7.”


“Just following the law…I got laughed at by a taxi driver in Romania for putting my seatbelt on…”


“Living in Germany I have recently talked to an exchange student from Bangladesh. He was seriously shocked that people would stop at red traffic lights although there were no other cars/pedestrians around. Gave me a good laugh.”


“A condiment fee?  Germany, how dare you charge for ketchup?”


“What makes it even more astonishing is the complete lack of trash cans. A few years ago I was being touristy in Tokyo. I saw two trash cans in total. Two. For an entire city. And yet the place is fucking spotless.”


“Liquid bread” People seem to drink beer all the time in the Czech Republic. Our local guide said that sometimes workers will have a few beers for lunch and then go back to work, calling it “liquid bread” or something like that.


“How loud people are in the U.S.”


“I come from tiny little Sweden where the loudest thing on the subway is the subway. Walking on the subway in NYC and getting hit by that wall of noise was a real shock. Also, the onions in the U.S. are enormous.


“This is silly, but in 2003 I visited Germany and was absolutely blown away that the escalators didn’t start moving until you approached them (like automatic sliding doors). In America they’re always just going. I thought it was genius.”


“When ya gotta go…How urinals popped up out of the sidewalks at night in London.”


“When I went to America McDonalds had refillable Dr Pepper. I was in heaven.”


“When ya gotta go…take II? While in Beijing, saw a middle-aged man in a suit and tie pop a squat in front of some sort of professional building and literally take a shit in the bushes. Was not prepared for that AT ALL.”


“Siesta, anyone? In Spain, EVERYTHING is closed for a nap after lunch.”


“Shocking When I went to Japan I went to a bathhouse and my leg started spasming violently when I got in a tub. I thought I was having a stroke, but it turns out they have pools with electrical currents to promote longevity. That was literally my most shocking experience overseas.”


“Beer in China is sold in bags.”


“Oh say can you see? How flags are openly displayed all across American residences.”


“True innovation from Walmart When I came to the US, that rotating plastic bag holder at Walmart blew my mind.”


“Israeli toilets have two kinds of flushing, one that barely flushes and another that is so strong that it waxes your thighs if you don’t stand up first.”


“How do you like them apples? How small all of the fruit was in England. One apple in the US is like two UK apples. I went through a lot of apples.”


“Drink up Shocked, and also loving, the complete lack of responsible service of alcohol laws in Bali. Get a bit drunk in a pub in Australia and you risk being cut off. In Bali they will serve you while you’re lying on the floor vomiting, as long as you keep paying.”


“In South Korea there is no separate shower in the bathroom. The showerhead sprays directly on the floor and there is a drain in the corner of the room.”


“Surprise taxes How price tags in America do not include Taxes!”


These comments above were taken from an article Posted Nov 14, by Hannah Poindexter:


Cheapest Places To Travel For Each Month Of The Year

“You’ve heard the myths: Tuesday is the best day to book airfare. Wednesday is the best day to fly. January is the cheapest month to travel. All of them are up for debate, to a certain extent. But according to new data from, you can count on getting good hotel values by picking the right destination for the right time of year.

If a cheap vacation is what you’re after, plan your trips based on when hotel rates are proven to be low; then use a service like Hopper or Kayak to find the best-priced plane tickets to round out your plans. You’ll end up with a powerful, money-saving one-two punch—which can save you hundreds for even a quick family getaway. According to, that could mean anything from Honolulu in February (hello, warm weather!) to Fort Lauderdale, Florida in May (smack between the spring break crowd and the region’s famously humid summers). Plan it right and you’ll even find significant price dips—up to 56 percent—at hotels in major overseas capitals like London and Rome (you’ll have to read ahead to find out which months are best for each).

So what causes prices to dip so low in certain months? The reasons vary. In some places, you’ll see hotel deals following a big national holiday—often times, one that doesn’t register here in the United States. You can also bet on serious shoulder season values, when the weather in a destination is still great but crowds have gotten a bit thinner. Even bouncing back from major tourism events, like the tennis opens and big-ticket conferences, can create pockets of deep savings during particular months—or even weeks—of the year, if you know to look for them.

Here, your month-by-month guide for great vacation deals in 2016:


If you came here to this blog really only wanting to know more about Ecuador, feel free to buy my new bookWords To Thrive By for World Travelers: Footprints in Ecuador. My book is available both on Kindle and Paperback formats, though I prefer the kindle as all my photos are in color in that version.
Words To Thrive By for World Travelers: Footprints in Ecuador

Words To Thrive By for World Travelers: Footprints in Ecuador

Let. It. Go.


No matter where we live in the world, this is good wisdom to keep in mind every day, no matter what we may have done, said, feel or perhaps, even regret:

“Finish each day and be done with it.

You have done what you could.

Some blunders and absurdities have crept in; forget them as soon as you can.

Tomorrow is a new day.

You shall begin it serenely and with too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense.”

~Ralph Waldo Emerson

If you came here to this blog really only wanting to know more about Ecuador, feel free to buy my new bookWords To Thrive By for World Travelers: Footprints in Ecuador. My book is available both on Kindle and Paperback formats, though I prefer the kindle as all my photos are in color in that version.
Words To Thrive By for World Travelers: Footprints in Ecuador

Words To Thrive By for World Travelers: Footprints in Ecuador

*Photo Credit: Mary Anne Dorward, “Sunset In Chile”


The Gift Of Gratitude- Thank You Dear Readers

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I wanted to take this opportunity today to express my deep gratitude to you, my readers. You live and work in more than 175 countries around the world. You form an amazing international web of connection to many different cultures and people. Together, we are shaping the future of our world by our many talents, gifts and contributions. I am extremely proud to be part of our shared international community.

As you know, I write and post on all of my various social media forums with the deep intention to serve through inspiration and motivation. (I was most recently described this week as “an instigator for getting others to move outside their comfort zone into seeing the options available to them.”)

Around the web on my various social media spaces, I post art and photographs, music and videos, quotes and other ideas. I always try to offer what I believe might be a helpful perspective to you or to give you some “food for thought” as you travel your journey, wherever you are in the world.

However, this is far from just a “one way street.” Every day I am equally blessed, inspired and moved by your wisdom, your many contributions, comments and posts as well. I wanted to make each of you aware of the exquisite gifts you give to me every single day and to express my gratitude to you for them.

I’ve always loved that old Zen saying, “When the student is ready the teacher appears.” We are always -and in turns – both “teacher” and “student” for each other’s growth, lessons and personal evolution. Our current ongoing “global conversation” together here in the social media stratosphere truly feeds my soul in innumerable ways. Thank you for that as well.

Warm regards,
Mary Anne Dorward

PS: Feel free to join more of your fellow international community on these various social media spaces outlined below:

Social Media Housekeeping

Words To Thrive By Website

To get more info about my Words To Thrive By® Book Series or to read/sign up for the WTTB blog, our ongoing conversation about the incredible power of words, go here:

Mary Anne Dorward Website

If you need Speaking, Writing or Coaching services, want to hear me sing or to read/sign up for the MAD/My Real Voice blog + conversation about work and life, ongoing since 2008, go here:

Ecuador Blog

To learn more about real Life in Ecuador, (and other South American countries,) please go here :

(You are here now)


This is where I post positive quotes, words and images, links to blogs, videos and other cool stuff I find when I’m out and about trolling the internet.




To quote Elizabeth Gilbert: Pinterest is “that ever so fun addictive crack house, whose vortex I try not to tumble down too often because it’s a gorgeous suckhole.” Yes LG. I couldn’t agree with you more. To be perfectly honest, I tumble down the gorgeous Pinterest suckhole more than I would like to admit!

Thanks again for everything! See and talk with you all soon!

Thank You





New Years Traditions: Ecuador vs Chile

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Now that I have celebrated New Years in both Ecuador and Chile, I thought it might be interesting to give you some idea of the New Years traditions celebrated in each country.


Ecuadorians and Chilean share the custom of people running the block around their homes lugging an empty suitcase at a few minutes before midnight. People who perform this yearly New Years tradition routine are all hoping to travel in the year to come.


Last year, when I was living in Ecuador,  I wrote a blog titled, New Years In Ecuador: Burn Up Your Troubles. (To read that blog go here: I explained the Ecuadorian Monigote tradition of creating papermache figures of all sizes, called Monigotes.

Ecuadorians  fill these Monigotes with pieces of paper on which they have written down all the things from their life in the past year that they wish to leave behind. Monigote’s can be a family affair, with every member of the family contributing their papers to a single Monigote or each member of the family can have their very own Monigote figure.

Then at midnight, everyone and their family set fire to their collective or personal Monigote, thus burning up all the troubles  and starting the new year truly with a clean slate.

Chileans I spoke to this past New Years had never heard of anything like the Ecuadorian Monoigote Tradition. When I explained it to the Chileans I know, in general they found Monigotes rather a “quaint” custom and preferred their parties and champaign and pineapple sherbet tradition.


However Chileans did have a few interesting traditions in common with the Ecuadorians, such as wearing different color underwear to bring an abundance of a certain quality into your life, though the colors linked with the desired objectives differed.

Ecuadorians wear red underwear for love and yellow underwear for money, while Chileans wear yellow underwear to attract both love and money abundance in the new year to come.


Grape sales boost during New Year’s Eve in Chile as it is considered lucky to eat 12 per person — apparently increasing the chances of affluence during the year. We went to the grocery store early in the morning on the day before New Years Eve in Chile to buy some grapes and they were already totally sold out.


While the English-speaking world sing a few verses “Auld Lang Syne” come midnight, I don’t remember any special song sung by Ecuadorians. However,  Chileans sing “Un Año Más” on the hour, and loudly. We were up 25 floors and you could hear them singing both above and below us in our condo and also in the streets below.

Chlieans drink a variety of drinks thorughout the evening of New Years Eve, such as cola de mono (coffee, cinnamon, milk and aguardiente) and poncha la romana (champagne with piña colada ice cream). Both of these are guaranteed to give you a completely filthy hangovers. (We decided to stick with white wine.)

Hangout spots:

When we lived in Ecuador, we celebrated New Years at the beach each year. When deciding where to spend New Year’s Eve in Chile, Valparaíso is usually the first place that springs to mind for most people in Chile. However,  I did some research and, though we watched the fireworks from above Vina del Mar and Valparaiso, there are many other places worth considering that offer something different if you plan to come to Chile on New Years Eve at the end of this year 2016. Fair warning: get your reservations made NOW as there are very few places available the closer it gets to New Years.

Torre Entel fireworks

I am not sure what the fireworks are like in Quito, Ecuador as I never spent a New Years Eve there. However, Santiago Chile’s Torre Entel — the 418-foot-tall Television and communications tower — lights up as the yearly firework erupts from the structure’s peak. Due to its tremendous height by Chilean standards, it’s hard not to notice the fireworks display spouting high into the night sky, wherever you may be in the city. The show kicks off at midnight and it’s advised to find a decent vantage point early as people flock from far and wide to guarantee the best views.


Like Ecuadorians, more often than not Chileans get together at a friend or family’s house and fire up the coals for an asado — creating a huge feast to welcome in the new year. In both countries, all sorts of meats get the flame-grilled treatment, especially choripan.

Ecuadorians most often drink a toast with beer or whatever alcohol is on hand. In Chile, people traditionally celebrate the actual striking of midnight with their families, with a toast of champagne with pineapple ice cream.

In Ecuador, people stay where they are for a fiesta and it can last well into the next morning. After dining and the New Years fireworks are over, people in Chile tend to go out in search of a dancing joint or move on to another different location for another house party….or two. Chileans do love to party.

Castillo Hidalgo

In Chile, for those looking for something a little more lively, the yearly bash within Castillo Hidalgo is sure to entertain. There are three rooms blasting out various types of music including electro, indie and 90s disco. It may not be the cheapest option at $30,000 pesos a ticket — $45,000 pesos for VIP — but you should get a lot of bang for your buck.

This past New Years, DJ Full, Roland Murga and VJ Juan entertained the crowds. Located atop of Santa Lucía the castle was built in 1816. Due to its elevation the site also boasts brilliant views of the Torre Entel fireworks. Check out the website for further details.



We had a very different experience of “New Years At The Beach” this year. In Ecuador, local folks pop some fireworks and it’s over in a few minutes.

This year we were in Vina del Mar, Chile and this is one of the largest fireworks displays in South America. The place was jammed. Thousands of Chileans gravitate towards Valparaíso and neighboring Viña del Mar for New Year’s Eve. With so many great vantage points in the city people gather on the hills, kicking off impromptu parties. The power is cut in many part of the city so that the spectacle can be better appreciated.

However, the fireworks only make up a small part of the evening, most people travel to Valparaiso to party hard.

A stage is set up in Plaza Sotomayor where live bands play. The streets are choked with confetti and spilled champagne. People are awake all night long partying.

Escape to the country

Ecuador has many beautiful locations to ring in the new year besides the beach. This is also true of Chile.

Spending New Year’s Eve surrounded by mountains, lakes and incredible landscapes, all the while escaping the noise and partying of Santiago is a great alternative.

The Los Lagos Region, south of the Río Bío Bío and more or less reaching Puerto Montt, is a region packed tight with forests, snow capped volcanoes, hundreds of lakes and lagoons and hot springs.

Parque Nacional Vicente Pérez Rosales not far from Puerto Varas is highly recommended — it is the perfect destination to go hiking and camping under the stars with friends. Just be prepared for a long bus or car journey to reach the region.


You might think that for New Year’s Eve, the place to be in Chile would be Santiago. While there are (not insubstantial) fireworks (fuegos artificiales ) in Santiago, the biggest New Years Eve party people say takes place in Valparaiso, out on the coast, just seventy miles away.

Even if you watch the fireworks from up above and away from the crowds like we did from our condo, Valparaíso’s fireworks display on New Year’s Eve is truly stunning.

Valparaíso is a protected UNESCO site and is often called “the Pearl of the Pacific.” It’s a port city, though no longer the most important port of the country (San Antonio now has that distinction). Still, commerce comes through here, as do some 50 cruise ships, often either on their way from or to Cape Horn and Antarctica. Valparaíso is famous for its picturesque colorful houses on steep hillsides, and the historic ascensores and funiculares (elevators and funiculars) that ferry people up them.

The fireworks celebration is actually the culmination of three days of celebration in the port city, which though expansive, is not that populous, as there are few large buildings in the city. There are great views from every hilltop, along the water front, from a selection of piers, and you can even buy a ticket for one of a couple of public boats that float alongside the exploding fireworks.

In a country of just 17 million people, as many as a million people flock to Valparaíso for the New Year’s celebration, which is the largest in Latin America.

As I mentioned above, if you’re going to go, book as early as possible, and get to the city early as well. Revelers find moving between Valparaíso and neighboring Viña del Mar on New Year’s Eve tricky, at best.

The Viña del Mar fireworks have never disappointed its spectators, and the reason for that is the permanent job and production capable of supporting a show that is worth millions. Since the year 2007, they explode in the garden city, Valparaiso and Concon, covering more than 27 kilometers of the Pacific coast, overwhelming all its spectators.

To achieve this, the city hall invests around 600,000 US dollars, which generates 23 minutes of explosions and admiration. With this event the alliance of the three municipalities applied for the Guinness Records, showing a worldwide quality.

To enjoy New Year in Viña del Mar, people from different cities and regions get up early and travel to get a place or parking spot in some nearby resort. The key launching points of the fireworks this New Year were: Recreo, Caleta Abarca, Peru Avenue, Los Marineros beach, Vergara pier and Reñaca, whereas in Valparaiso there were nine launching points and three in Concon.

With detonations from these places, for us in Viña it was possible to enjoy the view of the fireworks from different angles of the commune, this thanks to that the Illustrious Municipality of Viña del Mar is in charge of installing different viewpoints, especially in the highest and furthest places of the city, meaning that, this show is dedicated to the whole community.

The companies which provide the firework equipment deliver the best quality. It is the same one used in Spain and Italy. Viña del Mar, and its alliance, got a total of 24 tons of fireworks, being this the best event of all time. This shows that New Year in this city is always better than the last, not only in quantity but in quality. That is why this plan is the favorite of the majority of Chileans and many foreigners who come only to enjoy it.

No matter where you celebrate New Year’s Eve in either Ecuador or Chile, enjoy the celebration!

If you came here to this blog really only wanting to know more about Ecuador, feel free to buy my new bookWords To Thrive By for World Travelers: Footprints in Ecuador. My book is available both on Kindle and Paperback formats, though I prefer the kindle as all my photos are in color in that version.
Words To Thrive By for World Travelers: Footprints in Ecuador

Words To Thrive By for World Travelers: Footprints in Ecuador

COLOMBIA: A New Perspective from The International Woman Mary Anne Dorward

For those of you considering moving or visiting South America, here is some helpful information on Colombia.

Colombia has been given a very bad rap over the last 30 years, mostly due to Hollywood movies and the government of the world not updating people about how Colombia actually is now.

Everyone I meet here or around the world when I travel these days who is from Colombia goes on and on and on about how beautiful and safe a country it is and encourages us to visit.

Since I haven’t spent a great deal of time in Colombia, I don’t feel I have a comprehensive enough experience to truly comment personally. However, I thought readers looking around at various South American countries might enjoy this article from Nick Giambruno today for further perspectives on opportunities currently available in Colombia. Nick is a wonderful writer and writes regularly for the newsletter, International Man.

To Thriving Travels For All,

Mary Anne Dorward, The International Woman

Author of Words To Thrive By for World Travelers: Footprints in Ecuador

WTTB_Ecuador_FINAL full cover

How to Profit from the End of the Longest Running War in the Americas

by Nick Giambruno | December 02, 2015
Drug cartels. Kidnappings. Assassinations. A war for billions in cocaine profits. Leftist guerrillas looking for a piece of the action.

If you’ve seen a movie with this stuff in it, there’s a good chance it was set in Colombia.

Popular culture has depicted Colombia this way for decades. The media has pounded this image into the public’s consciousness. So it’s no surprise most people think of the country as a scary, dangerous place.

There were plenty of facts to support this image 30 years ago…but not today. Today, a violent Colombia is just a Hollywood fiction.

The real Colombia has one of the fastest growing economies in Latin America. Some remote areas are still no man’s land. But the drug wars and civil conflict that started in the 1960s and tormented much of the country have wound down. I’d feel much safer walking down a street in Medellín tonight than I would in many parts of New York City, Chicago, or Washington, D.C. Plus, unlike most Latin American countries, Colombia welcomes and respects foreign investment.

It’s clear to anyone who has been there recently that Colombia has turned a page to a better future. The country has immense charm and plenty of opportunity for investors. That was certainly my impression after visiting earlier this year.

Yet the average person still thinks it’s the 1980s. He’s still holding onto ill-founded fears, thanks to all the negative but out-of-date images in the media. These images have created gross misperceptions about Colombia. That’s not a bad thing for us. It’s an opportunity.

The perception gap about Colombia has pushed the price of most things down to bargain levels. This is a blessing to anyone who can see beyond it.

This is exactly why I visited Colombia earlier this year. I found the opportunities there so compelling that I purchased a beautiful penthouse apartment in the nicest part of Medellín. I signed the papers and closed in early September.

Colombia, and Medellín in particular, has been on my radar for many years. My old college roommate was originally from Medellín. So I’ve known what the place was really like for some time.

I’ll share more on the investment opportunities in Colombia in a bit. But first, some important background information…

Peace Brings Prosperity

In the 1960s, friction between leftist guerrillas (generally allied with drug lords), right-wing militias (in some cases dabblers in the drug trade), and the Colombian central government developed into widespread civil conflict. This is the main reason Colombia has had a “red alert” travel advisory next to its name for decades.

The leftist guerrilla armies, Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia (FARC) and the much smaller Ejército de Liberación Nacional (ELN), were the most notorious source of violence. Farming families started militias to fight back against FARC and ELN. They needed protection and, for many years, they were skeptical about the central government’s ability to provide it.

At one point, the leftist guerrillas controlled nearly half the country. But over the years, FARC lost territory, membership, and military strength.

The success of the Colombian military is one reason FARC’s power has shriveled. The military has pushed FARC out of most of the country.

Another reason is that FARC lost its foreign patrons. Cuba had been one of FARC’s biggest sources of financial and military support. But with the collapse of the Soviet Union, the Cuban government lost its ability to finance mischief in Colombia, or elsewhere.

Cuba’s reconciliation with the U.S. has recently changed the geopolitical equation even more.

Add it up, and it’s no surprise FARC thinks more armed conflict is a losing bet. The remaining FARC forces have reached a tentative peace agreement with the Colombian government. They plan to finalize the agreement by March 2016.

In the coming months, I think there’s a good chance the Western Hemisphere’s longest-running conflict will come to a clean finish.

Below is a picture of Cuban president Raúl Castro bringing together Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos and FARC leader Rodrigo Londoño Echeverri, better known by the nom de guerre Timochenko.

A Contrarian Investor’s Dream

Colombia has the right mix of ingredients to make any contrarian salivate. Most people think it’s a country in crisis. In reality, that crisis is only a memory.

The world’s attachment to an outdated Hollywood stereotype of a country overrun by battling drug lords is handing us an opportunity. This stereotype, which is just beginning to fade, has kept prices of Colombian land and Colombian stocks low. And the recent strength of the U.S. dollar has pushed prices even lower.

It’s clear to me – and should be clear to anyone who has visited recently – that Colombia has turned a page to a better future. The country’s middle class is vibrant and growing. It has more than doubled in the past 13 years and now includes more than 30% of the population.

Massive, intelligently planned infrastructure projects are underway. An ambitious four-lane highway will cut through the Andes with tunnels and bridges to connect Medellín to ports on the Pacific and the Caribbean. It will also open up vast tracts of rich farmland for development.

Walk anywhere in Medellín and you will feel a dynamic energy in the air that tells you this place is on an upswing.

Put it all together, and you have a perfect crisis market…a place where the crisis is a fiction.

These opportunities won’t last forever. The word is starting to get out. But, for the time being, Colombia hasn’t hit the radar of most foreign and institutional investors. However, that could change soon, especially if the government and FARC reach a permanent peace agreement in the months ahead, as I expect they will


My First Impressions Of Ecuador vs Chile: A Collection Of Contrasts

The Art Of Andy Goldsworthy
Art Of Andy Goldsworthy
Ecuador vs Chile is a collection of contrasts. After living here for three months, I feel now I have been in Chile long enough to be able to write just a bit about my first impressions.
  • The Faces Of Chile

Ecuadorian faces are different than the Chilean faces. The Ecuadorian faces have more of an indigenous look to them, a result of the Quichwa influence from their Inca heritage and also those people who have come from Peru and other neighboring South American countries.

Here in Chile there is more of a European influence in their faces, as they are more mixed cultures coming from many other countries.

  • The Contrast Of Immigration Policies

Chile also has a great history of immigration. Countries like Chile and Argentina have always highly encouraged immigration from other cultures. This cultural influx over many years has added to the great mix of physical characteristics, rich culinary options, world class fashion and different political ideologies seen here.

Ecuador by contrast over the many centuries has been rather closed unto itself, with little or any European influence upon it. Many educated Ecuadorian people told me that unlike , Ecuadorians prefer to retain their own culture. As a result, few people from other countries in Europe or other Latin American cultures have moved there or intermarried with the local Ecuadorian people.

  • The Culture Of Beauty and Fashion

From what I observed living in Ecuador two years, unless you are in a more professional community of Ecuadorians, Ecuadorian culture encourages their women to be the ruler of the home and take care of their kids and their husbands not to become a fashionista.

The elder Ecuadorian women, on the coast at least, tend to be a bit on the heavier side and appear to pay little attention to fashion. But this fashion sense tends to shift to a bit more upscale in more professional areas such as the female lawyers of Quito who we met.

Younger Ecuadorian women tend to emphasize their physical features and show off their figures. I would characterize their fashion sense as “sexual,” seemingly designed to get attention from men and at the same time also be comfortable in the heat of the Ecuador climate on the equator. I never quite got over the fact though that so many of the Ecuadorian women start having babies at age 12, regardless of how they dressed.

By contrast, Chileans have a greater sense of what I would call “elegant sexy.” This “woman of fashion” will often endure physical discomfort for high end fashion effect. I have seen  this all over Latin American countries and also in Europe.

Sure, Chilean women of all ages dress up for the beach.  Their beach outfits can be very revealing in the string bikini sense or sheer dresses. However, both the young and older Chilean women have the tanned and toned bodies to pull it off.

But even if they don’t have that “perfect skinny body” so promoted in the US, it doesn’t stop a Chilean woman from putting on a bikini and showing off whatever she does have. Some women also make a more conservative choice of a one piece bathing suit or T shirt and shorts.

Whatever the choice of beach outfits, they are out there walking and playing paddle board or catch or soccer or making sand castles with their children.

Overall, Chilean women seem to aspire to also dress for what looks good on them and be “pulled together” in the latest fashions you see being sold in Europe or the United States, whether it is out for a walk, going to the grocery store, working or shopping.

Sure, some Chilean women go a bit over the top with their huge bags, earrings, platform heels and high skirts up to the bottom of their butts. But as Diana Vreeland says, “A little bad taste is like a nice splash of paprika. We all need a splash of bad taste—it’s hearty, it’s healthy, it’s physical. I think we could use more of it. No taste is what I’m against.”

As I watch Chilean women, all I can say is that they seem proud of  their personal fashion stamp and also look like they are having a lot of fun wherever they go, whatever their taste. I respect that.

  • Hair

I love the long, drapy, sexy hair of the Chilean women and also how they dress always so pulled together in their skinny jeans and loose flowing tops that sway along with their hair.

I didn’t ever see Ecuadorian women putting a lot of effort into their hair or their clothes. Ecuadorian women by contrast tend to put their hair up in braids if they are in traditional indigenous Quechwa dress or in pony tails on the bus to keep it off their necks in the heat. Styles are short and stylish in the city of Quito but otherwise just long and straight cut for the most part.

  • The Fabulous Chilean Walk

The really stylish upscale  women of Chile are absolutely fabulous to watch, especially when they walk. They are the epitome of what Sophia Loren said,  “A woman’s dress should be a like a barbed-wire fence: serving its purpose without obstructing the view.” These upscale Chilean women really do walk like one famous European designer suggested a woman should do: “As if three men are watching them intently from behind.”

  • Chile Is A Culture of Travel

Chilean younger people are encouraged to get an education, make something of themselves and travel.

Both Chilean women and men aspire to and have both local and international careers. They love to travel all over the world and do travel on a regular basis as a part of their ever expanding interest in the world as a whole.

Even the men who are the concierges at the desk here at our building travel in their time off from work. One guy downstairs just came back from a two week trip to Paris and commented how much he “loved the food” but that the weather was just “too cold for him.”

Younger Chileans go off to study at Ivy League colleges in the United States and have commented to us that “the values are very different between the two cultures.” (More on that in a future blog!)

Most Chileans take 2 week length holidays thoughout the year, and more than once a year. Average Ecuadorians on the coast we met were lucky to travel beyond the next town in their entire lives.

  • The Malls

Chileans LOVE to shop and get the best of everything the world has to offer. And the malls reflect that. Every top name brand merchandise is here. Chileans shop for entertainment on the weekends.

A friend here told me that if a Chilean takes up a new sport, such as hiking or windsurfing, they tend to buy everything for that sport, top of the line brands of clothes and equipment, before they even take their first lesson!

The Ecuadorian malls for the most part are not nearly as elaborate as the malls in Chile. With the exception of the one mall we went to in Cumbaya, just south of the city of Quito, malls are quite small and have very few first world brands. Ecuadorians tend to choose their buying options for how they function rather than for being seen in a famous brand or fashion.

  • The Culture of Food and Music

Chileans LOVE good food of all kinds and cultural traditions.

The Ecuadorians love a certain type of food that is traditional Ecuadorian tradition of fish, rice, and beans or fresh chicken soup from a chicken you killed and plucked that morning.

Chileans adore live music and the musical cultural contributions people from around the world make to Chile with their musical traditions.

Ecuadorians don’t have live music anywhere unless it is at a rare concert in Quito. However in Ecuador you do hear a lot of music from boom boxes from the back of the cars and from DJ’s at their many discos until well past 5 AM.

  • The Chilean vs Ecuadorian Culture of Hello

 Chileans are very friendly and kiss you hello on the right cheek the moment you meet them. No Hollywood “air kisses” from Chileans.

The Ecuadorians are a bit more reserved, but from an early age, even the children are expected to give you a kiss on your cheek upon greeting.

  • Chilean vs Ecuador Curiosity

Chileans are also extremely interested in anyone who visits Chile and you are asked all kinds of questions about who you are, where you have travelled, what you love, what kind of area you have worked in, how you like Chile so far and what you like about Chile compared to where you came from. They want to know YOU and ask LOTS of questions.

Ecuador by contrast, are very curious why you would ever leave the United States. Many of them have a cherished dream of visiting the United States one day, kind of like the United States is their version of Mecca for the people of Muslim faith.

More often than not in Ecuador, you get the question, “Why are you here?” and “Why would you EVER leave the United States? It’s perfect there.”

As you enter more of a conversation with an Ecuadorian, invariably you learn that the person who you are talking to has either gone to the United States to work and bring back money they saved or has great aspirations to go to the United States one day.

Ecuadorians never speak of ever visiting Europe or Asia, let alone Chile or other South American countries

  • Ecuadorians Think Chile Is Too Expensive

The common comment from Ecuadorians about Chile is, “Oh, it’s so expensive in Chile. Too expensive for me. ”

However, our personal experience so far on the cost of living at least right now in Chile with the currently strong U.S. dollar exchange rate, is about the same cost currently as living in Ecuador.

  • Chileans Think Ecuador Is Too Third World

When Chileans learn that we just spent the last two years of our lives in Ecuador, Chileans invariably get this look of concern on their faces as if to say, “poor you,” but they always first ask, “So what did you think of living in Ecuador? How was it?”

When  we tell them a bit more about our experience and how much we are enjoying our time in Chile now, they say things like, “Well, you know. We are a First World Country here in Chile. Ecuador has a ways to go now doesn’t it?

  • The Cultures Of Personal Space Are Very Different

Chileans have a very different sense of respect for space than Ecuadorians do. Chileans give you lots of space, whereas the Ecuadorians really do not.

Ecuadorians will practically be on top of you from behind you in a line and move even closer to you when you move away from them. At the bank counter, Ecuadorians will just come on up, stand beside you and lay their arms on the counter or look over your shoulder, even when it is not their turn. The tellers at the bank do not tell them to step aside or back.

At the ATM machine, Ecuadorians think nothing of coming up and standing up very close behind you where they can see everything you are doing and even how much money you are getting out of the machine.  However if there is a guard standing by at the bank door near the row of machines, Ecuadorians will stand back behind the yellow line usually painted on the floor a couple of feet back.

Ecuadorians will also use the armrests well over on to your side of the seat on a plane or sitting in a public chair at an office. They just have a habit of spreading out wherever they are.

Ecuador tends to be a culture of patience with all the long lines everywhere you go to do anything. However if you are doing anything while you are waiting, like a needlepoint in a public space like I tend to do while I am waiting, a crowd will usually gather around to get a closer look at what I am doing.

Strangers will even stick their faces in very close to mine while I am looking down and working on my needlepoint as if to see exactly what my eyes are seeing as I work. Ecuadorians think nothing of asking many questions about who the needlepoint is for or what I will do with it.

I ever quite got used to an Ecuadorian’s sense of space.

However, you never feel like a Chilean person is on top of you or crowding you, like I always felt in Ecuador. Here in Chile, I feel a bit more like I can breathe as people are generally more respectful of space, at least in the way I think of giving another person a sense of spacial privacy.

There is at least 3 feet between you and the next person in line here in Chile. At an ATM machine Chileans tend to wait five feet back or even outside the door of the bank until you are finished with your transaction.

  • The Culture of  Speaking English vs Spanish

Another thing I notice is that Ecuadorians will encourage you to speak Spanish and gently and quietly repeat what you just said correctly if you didn’t get it right. They love seeing you try to speak their language, and then try very sweetly to help you improve.

The Chileans seem to have a sense of keeping their opinions about your Spanish, good or bad, to themselves and will not correct you unless you ask them specifically to do so. Then they will be happy to help.

But we have known people a full month before learning that THEY spoke PERFECT ENGLISH! But Chileans have always respected our attempts to blend in with them and make an effort to speak Spanish, however clumsy.

Rarely does a Chilean speak English to you or in a conversation in Spanish switch to English, which would have been more comfortable and easier for us.

  • More Impressions To Come

Anyway I hope this description gives you at least a little sense of the two countries, Ecuador and Chile, by contrast. I know I will have more impressions the longer I am in Chile. I will share those “boots on the ground personal experiences” as I can speak to them more fully.

If you came here to this blog really only wanting to know more about Ecuador, feel free to download or purchase my new bookWords To Thrive By for World Travelers: Footprints in Ecuador. My book is available both on Kindle and Paperback formats, though I prefer the kindle as all my photos are in color in that version.


Words To Thrive By for World Travelers: Footprints in Ecuador

Words To Thrive By for World Travelers: Footprints in Ecuador