Having been in Ecuador for 10 months now I have discovered a few Gringa stereotypes. When I first arrived in Ecuador last August, it was exciting and new. Although I lost one of my suitcases with the majority of my clothing, I couldn’t help but be excited and anxious to be in a foreign country.
For my first month in Ecuador I was in Quito for orientation. I remember the first night we were in Quito, we walked through a neighborhood called, El Mariscal or more commonly referred to as ‘Gringolandia.’ There were a lot of bright lights, dance clubs, restaurants, and men outside heckling us to come into their bar. It was overwhelming to say the least.
During my time in Quito I went out with my friends to different bars and discotheques. Many bars have happy hours and one bar called Bungalow 6 even has a ladies night on Wednesdays where women can come in and drink cocktails for free from 8:00pm to 10:00pm. After 10:00pm the bouncers let the men into the bar so they can start their prowl. In the moment it seems great, but I want to warn all foreign women travelers to watch their drinks and the altitude. I love being in the Andes but at higher elevations alcohol hits your system faster. Also, keep these two stereotypes in mind to ensure safe travels in Ecuador:
1) Gringa Girls Are Easy
It is amazing how much influence Westernized culture has on the expectations of foreigners. They gather a majority of their information from movies, TV shows, and the media instead of talking to foreigners themselves. As a white girl from the U.S., I can’t emphasize how obnoxious it is to be approached by Latin American men who have the predetermined expectations of how gringa girls should act. “No, I don’t want to kiss you” or “no, you can’t have my phone number,” I tell them.
However there is a reason for this expectation: many foreign girls get drunk and make out with strangers. It is fun once in a while but don’t make it a habit. It really bothers me how foreign girls are all lumped together as “easy gringas.” Be aware of your surroundings and make sure you are with people you know and trust.
Another thing to be wary of is being alone with Ecuadorian men. It is common for them to try to make moves on you. This isn’t true for every Ecuadorian man, I am only saying be careful with who you are alone with and in what context. If you don’t want this to happen, the best thing to do is to not put yourself in that situation in the first place. Never go into a bedroom alone with an Ecuadorian man because they are likely to misinterpret your intentions.
2) “You Must Have a Boyfriend”
The normal succession of questions I am asked with any new person usually goes as followed: “Do you like Ecuador?” “Are you traveling or working here in Ecuador?” “What is your name?” “How old are you?” and “Do you have a boyfriend?” I always find this rather amusing. Granted a majority of these conversations are with taxi drivers. Whenever I tell them that I don’t have a boyfriend they are always in shock. Then they ask me, “Do you have a boyfriend here? And “Do you have a boyfriend in the U.S.?”
The truth is, I don’t have a boyfriend in either country. A couple of times I have told them that I have a boyfriend in the States and they still ask me why I don’t have an Ecuadorian boyfriend as well. It isn’t acceptable to have more than one boyfriend in the same country but I guess it is okay to have two boyfriends in two different countries. One of the most ridiculous responses I received as to why I should have an Ecuadorian boyfriend was, “We are more caring, better lovers, and know how to take care of our women.” Really? Yes, that was a real situation.
In any situation, be careful while traveling as a foreign woman in a different country. If there is even a slight hesitation in the back of your mind, it is probably because you are doing something you shouldn’t be. Trust your instincts and if it doesn’t feel right, don’t do it. Be honest with who you are talking to and try not to fulfill the easy gringa stereotypes. Don’t put yourself in any compromising situations, have fun and be safe.