I had one of “those” days today. It came out of left field with no warning as they have a want to do. But once it landed then yeah, as is to be expected on “those” days, nothing went right after that.
And this is my way of venting (so be warned!).
For the most part I like Ecuador. Or perhaps for the sake of accuracy I should write that there are many things in Ecuador that I like. Some great beaches, amazing Andes trekking I’ve barely scratched the surface of, remote Amazonian wilderness I’ll be kicking myself if I don’t visit soon, and some beautiful preserved Colonial architecture that really can take the breath away with its Andes backdrop. And all of this less than a day’s drive apart.
But along with this beauty and adventure, Ecuador does have some… shall we call them idiosyncrasies… that can leave the unwary more than a little exasperated (even someone as travel experienced as I).
Not really sure if they’re made with gold thread sewn through, which might explain the prices, but shoes in Ecuador are roughly more than double what you would pay for the equivalent in Australia. And that’s in a country where the average monthly salary is less than US$500. I’m still trying to work how my Ecuadorian girlfriend could afford the dozen or so pairs she brought with her when she moved in, she certainly hasn’t been flashing the cash around me. Hmmm…
I bought a new pair of jeans today. Or perhaps I should start with: I tried to buy a new pair of jeans today. $80, good quality, fit great which is a rare find in this land of midgets, so I was pretty ecstatic. Presented my credit card and ID to the counter, the young girl did her thing on the computer to process the sale… a couple minutes later she tells me that I can’t purchase more than $70 with a foreign credit card. $70? Your “cheap-should-be-$40” shoes cost more than that. And this is in one of the major department stores mind you, no mom & pop place that might feel the loss of even $10. $70, really??
So I pull out $10, to pay the difference in cash.
No, I’m informed, we can’t do part payments that why. WTF?!?!?
Overtly fuming and red in the face from this truly ridiculous set of rules that some moron from head office has implemented, I grab my card & ID from the poor girl’s hand (it’s not her fault after all) and storm away, my poor girlfriend trailing in my wake (the things I put the women in my life through)…
I’m stomping away, spluttering and muttering about this being the 21st Century, who the fuck are these idiots… yada yada, I’m sure you get the drift. Then I stop.
Damn, I really liked those jeans. I mean, I really liked them. So, I pull out some cash…
Buying stuff – Part 2
So I return to the counter, cash in hand. The same girl does her thing with the computer again, then asks me for my phone number. I ask why, I’m paying cash. My girlfriend jumps in and gives her number. This pisses me off more. She tells me that if she didn’t, I couldn’t make the purchase.
So what the flying fuck is that about then?? Why do I need to provide anything but the cash if I’m paying for something with cash? Is this a government thing, keeping track of literally everything that every citizen does? Even when buying a pair of jeans?? Am very curious as to what this is for. And by now, even more pissed off with the whole situation. I storm away a second time, telling my girlfriend to never provide her phone number again when I’m buying something, I’d rather not buy it at all (you might garner that by now the grey mist has clouded any rational thinking).
I see curtains all the time in Ecuador. My friends have curtains. My girlfriends friends and her family have curtains. And I don’t recall any particularly ugly examples. But where the fuck do they buy them??
I think I’ve now visited every possible curtain retailer within the Quito centre north area, the main business & retail area. The usual first response to asking if they have curtains (“cortinas” in Spanish) is to be directed to the bathroom section. Shower curtains.
This is what probably gets me the most. Your FIRST thought when someone asks about “curtains” is shower curtains?? I know, I know, it’s petty, but as I said at the beginning, today became “the sum of its parts”.
And then almost inevitably after clarifying that it’s not shower curtains I’m after but living room type, I get told they don’t have them. Well, if I’m lucky. On a couple of occasions when they do have the “other” type, I find a selection of curtains that look like… actually, there’s no possible way I can adequately describe just how ugly these curtains are. Impossible. Let’s just say that if you imagine the oldest grandmother possible, who lives in a house full of cats, cat urine aroma permienting through the house, and imagine the floral nightmare curtains she would likely have… well these are worse. And they’re bloody expensive too!
So my original questions stands, where the hell do you buy decent looking, not overly expensive, curtains in Quito?
Cotton bed linen
Who buys anything else but 100% cotton linen nowadays? We moved on from polyester decades ago, right? Wrong… if you’re in Ecuador. Try finding anything not involving polyester for your bed. Perhaps the upmarket furnishing stores. Ecuador has no excuse not to be producing similar quality & priced products such as bed linens as you can find in Asia. Cost of living is comparable, so where is the comparable manufacturing industry? Why is the government spending so much time & money legislating so that imported goods cost so much (and hence likely why there’s no cheap cotton linens) rather than actually building a viable and competitive manufacturing industry? Ecuador could (should?) be a regional manufacturing leader. Instead we get protectionism from the government which provides no incentive to produce better local products, increases prices of imported goods for consumers, and puts a few extra dollars into the pockets of elected politicians. Ahhh…
Which brings me to… the Honey Ginger Saison craft beer from Bandidos Brewery in Quito old town. If there was ever a way to leave your personal frustrations at the door, this drop is it. Quality. One day I’ll learn not to let the “little things” get to me. In the meantime I have beer. Cheers!