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Expat Advice: Culture Shock in Anconcito, Ecuador

Submitted by OceanHideaway

What is the name of the city or town that you are reporting on?


Did you receive any cross-cultural training for your move abroad? If yes, was it before or after the move?

As I doubt that a 100 times through It's A Small World at the NY Worlds Fair before the age of 6 would count, I would say "no"; however, I grew attending public schools where I was a minority in a very ethnically mixed city located just north of Manhattan. That plus 2 years of high school Spanish, and scoring the lead in their production of West Side Story, introduced me to Latin culture. Twenty five years in south Florida introduced me to the Latin people.

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If they speak another language in your new country, do you speak the language? If yes, did you learn the language before you moved or while abroad? If no, are you planning to learn the language?

I am speaking some language other than English and am being understood more and more. I have more words at my disposal and can almost hold a meaningful conversation in almost three whole tenses. I still glance at the cash register to see the number rather than count on my hearing. Not too shabby for being here just under 2 years.

Were you worried or concerned about culture shock before you moved abroad?

My greater concern was getting prepared to move to Ecuador. Although planned for over two years it was the final 2 months that were a frantic buzz of activity punctuated by moments of shock and/or sheer terror. I didn't have time to be concerned about future shock, I was well enough in shock at that time!

How significant was the culture shock you experienced when you moved abroad?

I luxuriated in the honey moon stage -- right up until Monday morning when they started the renovations.

From June 23rd until July 18 I heard banging, clanging, busting, ripping, shredding, rock breaking, and every demolition, ceramic and piping cutting and rockbreaking sound you can imagine from 8 am to 5 pm and til 12noon on Saturdays.

And then when we were all done upgrading the existing houses on the property -- we started building a New one!

And that didn't end until Christmas ... Ah Paradise

Expats often talk about going through the "stages of culture shock." Examples include the honeymoon phase, the irritation-to-anger stage, the rejection of the culture stage, and the cultural adjustment phase. Do you feel like you went through these or any other stages as you settled into the new culture?

Labels are so easy ~ being an expatriate is very far from one size fits all ~ Stages? Sure, but they aren't all shaped the same way. Just as there are a myriad number of reasons why someone moves abroad, there is an equal or greater number of stages I am sure.

What, if any, were some of the changes you noticed in yourself that might have been caused by culture shock? These might include things such as anger, depression, anxiety, increased eating or drinking, frustration, homesickness, etc.

Absolutely I experienced all of this: anger, depression, anxiety, increased eating or drinking, frustration, homesickness, and especially etc., but I was already experiencing all of that back where I came from, so I knew it was time for a drastic change. And although I did experience all of that I also experienced joy, laughter, relaxation, tranquility, serenity and peace of mind, fulfillment, happiness, contentment, proper nutrition, enjoyment without gluttony, and a sense of family. Oh and I lost 53 pounds in 9 months by eating lots of lobster and corvina.

What are some things you appreciate most about the new culture?

Their particular sense of family spirit and belief in the future.

What are the most challenging aspects of the new culture?


Did you "commit" any embarrassing or humorous cultural blunders? If you did and you'd like to share them, please do tell!

I discovered the word "embarazado" does not translate to "embarrassed." Go ahead, look it up -- and save yourself.

Do you have any advice or thoughts about culture shock you would like to share?

At least visit the country of your dreams. You owe yourself that much in Life.

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Comments about this Report

Aug 18, 2010 15:13

On embarazo, congratulations! LoL

Sep 11, 2010 15:46

Remember when excitement and fear meet at a crossroad you know that your on the precipice of a life transformation. SELF-LOVE is the only answer!

Oct 12, 2010 12:25

Funny and true. Well written.

Oct 26, 2010 18:48

thanks for the refresher, I am relocating to Ecuador and a bit nervous about the change. At least I won't be the only odd person in town ;)

Dec 22, 2010 14:36

Susan -I moved offshore the first time in 1998-- You know when your new home really becomes home is when you go back and you start counting the days till you leave!

Jun 15, 2011 22:45

we bought a oceanside condo in salinas.can anyone tell me if we will have any problems getting a resident visa? it is paid for,and we have a container ready for shipping[10 weeks]after they leave the port.we have a att;in ecuador.any advise on how to speed up the process. i injoy the comments in this report thanks gwen

Jun 16, 2011 12:29

Hi Gwen: I would reccomend contacting Amy Prisco ( She is my go to person for this sort of information and can help you tremendously here in the Salinas area. Originally from NY and then the Boston area, she has a Masters in Spanish, an MBA, and a solid background in real estate -- she is also the only bi-lingual LICENSED broker in the area as well as still holding her NY state license. Tell her I sent you! Susan email:

Nov 9, 2011 21:02

My wife and I have plans to move to Ecuador early next. However I read a report today that there are over 200 clinics there that are kidnapping lesbians and raping and torturing them in an effort to make them "straight ". This supposedly is being done in the name of Christian ethics supposedly instigated by American evangelicals. I'm leaving the us to get away from this hate not moving to see more! Any truth to this?

Mar 31, 2013 01:44

It will be 5 years in a bit less than 2 months, and now i am an old timer around these parts. The business has changed, new renovations are needed, folks have moved on and new kids have moved in to work. Still love it here --

Nov 25, 2014 18:48

November 2014 ... Still here and... This is shocking... Over six years in my little town of Anconcito. Yes I am still a new stranger in town but now I am "the gringa" of Anconcito and more involved than I was before. Each year I sponsor the Grupo Sonrisa Clowns for the Festival of Humor. I host a lot of Quinces and Weddings at my property. We'll be hosting the Queen of Anconcito Pageant this week and Christmas and New years are around the corner. Things change, our beloved Poochie who came south with me from Florida passed on last year at 12 years and a new rescue, Max has come to join us (a huge labrador mix) who is enjoying life at the beach with 8 year old rescue Gina the rotti. Learning more and more that the ocean takes its toll on structures and most of our business funds go to upkeep, but we live simply and that's okay. It is a blessing to be by the sea. This is NOT the life for everyone and we have learned that there is a lot of jealousy among the new arrivals who wish to have what it has taken me years to create, and they want it immediately. This new wave of expats do not have the patience and tenacity of those who had to learn patience and humility and instead become quite nasty and ugly. Thankfully few of them stay, but those who do are a blight.

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