Coming from the United States, specifically New York City (a country and city I love) I accepted certain things as normal, even to be admired. People work hard back home. ‘rat race’ is an applicable term. We value business relationships, relationships related to money. The value of transactions is often defined by what they offer in material or monetary reward. Relationships, interactions, life, work, etc. is defined on those terms. That is not the case in Ecuador. People’s relationship to time and to money is not the same. Time does not equal money. Life here is based on relationships. People will give you their time. Without the calculation one would expect coming from the states. Neighbors help each other. Strangers help each other. Professionals consult without charging. Pay is based on results, not time.
Once I was unable to access the data on my phone as a result of having lost a password. I brought the problem to a technology professional here in Loja. He spent several hours attempting to find a solution but was unable to do so. My cost – zero.
Another time I was in a car accident. A motorcyclist slammed into my truck and was very lucky to be ok. Everyone around gathered – and helped us with advice and to put the motorcycle in the back of my truck and leave. It was a communal/group effort, in the middle of the 9th largest city in Ecuador.
I have a bus driver who picks my daughter up from the house in the morning and takes her to school – dropping her off in the afternoon. I have his cell and when I would like her to be dropped off at my office, or any other location, I just give him a ring or send a text and there she is – nothing out of the norm.
The school that bus takes her to is considered one of the best private schools in Loja. I currently pay around $160 per month.
I live in a new, high-end, 3 bedroom 3 bath home in a gated condominium complex in Loja. My rent – $550/mo. My utilities (phone, internet, gas, electric) around $100 monthly.
This is a familial society. Everyone knows everyone and relationships are very important. People do not yell or raise their voice to one another.
Life here is relaxed.
People are good.
Trust is valued.
Sure, there are downsides to this and things you have to get used to. Many stores close from 1-3 in the afternoon. A store may not be open 100% of the time their hours would indicate. Monday may mean next Monday. Life is slower.
For me it is a welcomed change. I can do all the things I like to do – Play sports, run a business, and have a rich family/social life – without all the pressure and pretense of back home.