Ecuadorians rarely say “no.”
“Go one block, make a left, and follow the road straight for five blocks. You will see it on the right,” the Ecuadorian man responded confidently when asked if he knew where to find a local restaurant. Following his instructions to the letter, we arrived in the middle of an open lot with not a restaurant in sight. When this first happened, we thought we had simply misunderstood. Over time, however, we came to understand that there was another reason. Ecuadorians hardly ever say “no.”
If you ask a carpenter the question “Will you be able to deliver our furniture by next Monday,” the response will take several twists and turns and usually end up hovering somewhere in the realm of “maybe.” You will never receive a pat “no” answer and may even get an unequivocal “yes,” even if the carpenter knows that there is no way in hell he can have it ready by Monday and will be lucky to have it ready a month from Monday. Being aware of this cultural difference can help to avoid some of the frustrating misunderstandings that can occur when living in Ecuador.
As you can see, there can sometimes be a bit of a downside to living in a culture where people want to be polite and friendly all the time.
So far the exception to the rule has been the owner of my building. When Julio says he'll be here in 3 minutes, he means it. That's rather nice. Fortunately I also do quite well with Ecuadorian time.
If you haven't traveled to the Cotacachi Living site yet, go take a look. I think you'll enjoy it.