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Ecuador has 11% unemployment and 47% underemployment, so finding work here isn’t easy. Officially, you need a worker’s visa to be allowed to work in Ecuador. Aside from the occasional job opening at a tourist lodge or B&B, there is little opportunity for paid work. The one exception is teaching English.

Most paid English-teaching job openings are in Quito and Guayaquil. Schools sometimes advertise for teachers on the bulletin boards of hotels and restaurants. Pay is just enough to live on unless you’ve acquired a full-time position from home.

If you have a bona-fide teaching credential, so much the better. Schools such as the American School in Quito will often hire teachers of mathematics, biology and other subjects, and may help you get a work visa if you want to stay on. They also pay much better than the language schools. Check ads in local hotels and newspapers.

One of the best online ESL resources, complete with job boards, is Dave’s ESL Café (www.eslcafé.com).


Numerous organizations look for the services of volunteers, however the vast majority require at least a minimal grasp of Spanish, a minimum commitment of several weeks or months, as well as fees (anywhere from $10 per day to $700 per month) to cover the costs of room and board. Volunteers can work in conservation programs, help street kids, teach, build nature trails, construct websites, do medical or agricultural work – the possibilities are endless. Many jungle lodges also accept volunteers for long-term stays. To keep your volunteer costs down, your best bet is to look when you get to Ecuador.

South American Explorers in Quito has a volunteer section where current offerings are posted. The clubhouse itself often needs volunteers. The classifieds section on

Ecuador Explorer (www.ecuadorexplorer.com) has a long list of organizations seeking volunteers.

Volunteer organizations in Ecuador:

AmaZOOnico (www.amazoonico.org) Accepts volunteers for the animal rehabilitation sector.

Andean Bear Conservation Project (www.andeanbear.org) Trains volunteers as bear trackers.

Bosque Nublado Santa Lucia (www.santaluciaecuador.com) Community-based ecotourism project in the cloud forests of northwest Ecuador. It regularly contracts volunteers to work in reforestation, trail maintenance, construction, teaching English and more.

FEVI (Fund for Intercultural Education & Community Volunteer Service; www.fevi.org) FEVI works with children, the elderly, women’s groups and indigenous communities throughout Ecuador.

Fundación Arte del Mundo (www.artedelmundoecuador.com) Baños afterschool arts and reading program with volunteer opportunities. Volunteers are required to pay a $170 per month fee, which includes a place to stay. There is a one month minimum.

Fundación Natura (www.fnatura.org) Ecuadorian nongovernment organization (NGO) that regularly hires Spanish-speaking volunteers to work in research, reforestation and more.

Galápagos Organic Rescue (www.galapagosorganicrescue.org) Planting crops, removing invasive species and reforestation.

Inti Sisa (www.intisisa.org) In Guamote, this hostel has info on volunteer opportunities in early childhood education.

Junto con los Niños (www.juconi.org.ec) Organization that works with street kids in the slum areas of Guayaquil. One-month minimum preferred.

Merazonia (www.merazonia.org) A central highlands refuge for injured animals for more information.

Mindo Animal Rescue (www.mindoanimalrescue.com) Accepts volunteers to help look after the animals, as well as help out with farming.

New Era Galápagos Foundation (www.neweragalapagos.org) Nonprofit offering volunteerships focused on community empowerment and sustainable tourism in the Galápagos. Volunteers live and work on Isla San Cristóbal.

Rainforest Concern (www.rainforestconcern.org; www.aventure.co.uk) British nonprofit organization offering volunteer positions in forest environments in Ecuador.

Reserva Biológica Los Cedros (www.reservaloscedros.org) This biological reserve in the cloud forests of the western Andean slopes often needs volunteers.

Río Muchacho Organic Farm (www.riomuchacho.com) Coastal ecotourism project offering one-month apprenticeships in organic agriculture with volunteer opportunities.

Yanapuma Foundation (02-290-7643; www.yana puma.org; 2nd fl, Veintimilla E8-125 near Av 6 de Diciembre, Quito) Offers a number of ways for volunteers to get involved: teaching English, building houses in remote communities, helping with reforestation projects or taking part in coastal clean-ups. Stop by its Quito headquarters and language school for more information.

Business hours

Banks open at 8am and close sometime between 2pm and 4pm Monday to Friday (though money-changing services usually stops around 2pm). Andinatel, Pacifictel and Etapa telephone call centers are almost invariably open 8am to 10pm daily. Post offices are generally open 8am to 6pm Monday through Friday and 8am to 1pm Saturday. In smaller towns they’ll close for lunch.

In Quito and Guayaquil, most stores and businesses of interest to tourists stay open from 9am to 7pm Monday through Saturday, usually with an hour off for lunch (around 1pm). Government offices and businesses such as Amex are open from about 9am to 5:30pm Monday to Friday, also with an hour off for lunch around 1pm. In smaller towns, especially in the hotter lowlands, lunch breaks of two hours are not uncommon. On Saturday, many stores and some businesses are open 9am to noon. Stores in major shopping malls are open between 8am and 10pm daily.

Restaurants often close on Sundays and opening hours can vary widely. Bars usually open between 5pm and 7pm and close between midnight and 2am.

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