Advice for the Extranjero in Ecuador: Shopping

How to not get ripped off while shopping.

  • Speak some Spanish
    Six months ago (has it really been that long!) I came here with one pair of well worn jeans, and promptly ripped them across the back from the crotch, just shy of my left cheek. Being shameless I continued to wear them for about a month and over that month the tear made a slow migration across the back of my thigh until I was forced to either throw them away, or give up all decorum and join the nude hippies sunbathing on the beach. I chose the former. My previous attempts to replace these jeans in Guayaquil ended in failure, since my skills had not been up to par for the amount of haggling that my price range required. Recent complements on my Spanish gave me new courage and I arrived at the market in Libertad with money in my pocket and a mind set for battle.

    White April, pre-Spanish: 
    “Cuanto cuesta estos?”
    “$25.”
    “No, no, $15.”
    “No. $25.”
    “Goddamnit, I’m taking my business elsewhere.”
    “Qué?”April with Spanish and a tan: 
    “Cuanto cuesta estos?”
    “$18.”
    “Loquisimo! Mira, son viejos. Los botones no estan eguales! No estamos en San Marino (a high end shopping mall).”
    “De donde eres negra?”
    “Eso no es importante. No tengo mucho dinero chico, estoy una maestra.”
    “$15.”
    “Porque estas malo? Por favor, ayudame.”
    “$14.”
    “It’s a deal!”
    “Qué?”Note the difference in initial price, which leads us to my next tip.
  • Don’t be white, and don’t be shopping with a white person.
    This was also learned the hard way through experience.Price of a sun dress shopping with the Mississippian: $18.
    With the Canadian: $15.
    With the Ecuadorian: $8.Price of standard black leggings with the Canadian: $8.
    Shopping solo: $3.

For more details about the benefits of not being white in Ecuador, see Part One of Travel Tips for Extranjeros.

Original published June 9, 2011, on tumblr as “Consejo Parael Extranjero en Ecuador – Parte 2″.

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