There is absolutely no way I’ll be losing any weight on this trip. In other countries, food has sometimes been questionable or strange or expensive or just deterring in some way. Cuba comes to mind. Restaurants there were uninviting, and street vendors seemed sketchy, so it was just easier to skip meals and rely on the restaurant in my hotel for adequate breakfasts and really good pizzas for dinner. But in Ecuador, meals are delicious, ample, and cheap. A typical meal of freshly grilled fish or chicken , potatoes or plantains, salad, rice, and beans costs less than $4 and you often have an entire beachside cantina all to yourself. Delicious ceviche is even less, maybe $3 at most. Throw in a fresh watermelon or guava smootie for $.75 cuz… why wouldn’t you? Its just impossible to go hungry, even if you pass up tempting snacks like bbq’d corn. Ive been giving out relatively huge tips cuz, again, why wouldn’t you? And back in Quito where there’s more competition, platters like this are sometimes less than $2.
Having said all that, I did hit up the McDonald’s near my hotel in Quito (I’m writing this from Quito) and a Big Mac combo was really fantastic after a whopping 12 hour bus ride back from the coast. It was a welcome taste of something familiar, with familiar prices to match. I’ve tried Big Macs all over the world and they never deviate from the patented Big Mac taste even one iota.
For the most part prices in Ecuador are straightforward and people don’t dick you around with things like mandatory gratuities, bait and switch deals, or different pricing for tourists. And that’s why I’ll happily tip up to 20-30% on things. If you treat me with respect, I’ll be generous. I know they appreciate it. But if you scam me or try to weasel that 20-30%, it really leaves a bad taste in my mouth and I will do everything I can to recuperate that in some form. I’ve left some nasty surprises for scammers in the past, some that were so heavily punitive and vindictive that it was almost worth being scammed just to be able to reflect on the experience later and laugh about how badly it worked out for the scammers. China comes to mind. These guys think they’re slick, but the truth is that we see you coming from a mile off. Nevertheless, there are times when there is no other option and you just have to suck it up and accept it as a part of travel.