Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Ecuador -- Culture Shock!

Yesterday my hubby called Nicholas Crowder the author of Culture Shock: Ecuador! and they talked for 2-1/2 hours. Mr. Crowder gave his home phone number on one of the Ecuadorian forums with an invitation to call anytime, so my hubby did just that.

Nicholas has been married to an Ecuadorian for 28 years and his book has sold over 4 million copies! If you don't have a copy of this masterpiece and you're planning to visit, live or retire in Ecuador, it is must-have reading.

Mr. Crowder doesn't sugarcoat anything, which is refreshing! Having lived in Sicily for six years, we wish we would have had a handbook similar to this one. Inside its glossy covers you will find a wealth of information including -- but not limited to --first impressions, fitting into society, do's and don'ts, settling in, and cultural taboos!

I took the "culture quiz" in the back of the book and passed (only because it is so similar to the Italian culture!).

Here are some things I did NOT know:

  • "Don't laugh very loudly!" (Oops...I'm going to have to work on that one!)
  • "Understand that elephants are a sign of good luck in Ecuador. Many houses have a number of elephant ornaments. There's a phrase that says each home should have one elephant ornament that was given, one bought and one stolen. Many Ecuadorians will have the elephant ornaments facing a window or door for good luck." (Okay, I'm out to buy an elephant!)
  • "Remember that women from the United States are often seen by Ecuadorian men as being sexually permissive." (Yes, I think I remember that from Sicily, although the men were overtly suggestive -- complete with hand gestures to match!)

Some of the book was review, but other fine points were startling and revealing. Keeping an open mind is so important and part of the cross-cultural process.

A side note: Today was my hubby's last day of work (he is officially retired!). We are going out to dinner tonight to celebrate, but I didn't realize how difficult this day was for him. I thought he would return home with a smile on his face, but instead tears were streaming down his cheeks.

I don't care what culture you are from, men gain their significance from their work, unlike women who are more nurturers by nature. I remember feeling differently after leaving the medical field after 20 years. I turned in my magnetic name badge, had my exit interview, and walked out into the hospital parking lot kicking my heels and shouting, "I'm free...free at last!" Unlike my husband, I did not gain my significance from my work and didn't care if I ever saw green-tiled hospital walls ever again!

Retirement gets a whopping 100 points on the stress scale (right up there with the death of a spouse), so I will let this culture shock (of sorts) take time to seep in. I'm sure after Mark leaves for Ecuador next week, he will be feeling differently (I hope!).

Oh, on a happier note, my manuscript was turned into the publisher today. One book down and one to go (May 15 is the deadline). I can do this!

Until next time...hasta luego!

Mark and Connie


Tracy Ruckman said...

It does take them awhile to settle into retirement. Tim told me this weekend that his dream had "always been" retirement - so now what? After the last conversation we had with you, we now have a whole new focus, whole new outlook. So THANK YOU! It's fun!

We'll be praying!!

I'm loving your reports!

Tom Hall said...

I retired a week ago after 40 years in the work force. The past 2 years were so stressful, it was a pleasure to hang it up.
Now my partner & I are moving to Cuenca after we sell our condo in Atlanta. Looking forward to a great adventure & new life. Hope to meet you there! In the meantime we'll have to check out that book.

Tom Hall (and George Xillas)

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