Spanish in Ecuador
Asking for Directions
Given the positive attitude toward tourists, Ecuadorians are happy to give directions. When asking for directions and an estimate of how long it might take to get to a destination, one must indicate whether travel is by car or foot. Those who are accustomed to walking as their primary means of transportation may automatically give an estimate of time based on how long it would take to walk rather than drive. In both the city and small towns, one can also get directions from tourist information centers or at any small business.
Streets are well-marked with signs; however, it is crucial to determine whether or not a street is one-way before turning onto it. Many city streets are one-way and making a mistake could result in either an accident or a very expensive traffic ticket.
Although city streets are marked by signs, they are not necessarily arranged in a linear fashion. When looking for a specific location, one will almost always need a map, and it is best to get a map with a detailed list of street names. Maps are easy to find for sale at pharmacies, gas stations, information desks and libraries. When traveling outside of the cities, one will probably need to either ask an Ecuadorian or to be in possession of an excellent map to help with the route, since at certain points not all roads are marked It is possible for a tourist traveling long distances to end up far from the desired destination.
Visitors need to be aware that, in recent years, some criminal elements have robbed unsuspecting persons by coming up to them with a map or piece of paper as if asking for help. The paper holds a powdered sedative which, after being blown into the face of victims, knocks them out so they can be robbed.