The average worker in Puyo, Ecuador makes $10-$15 a day. Rent can range from $100-$400 a month, and food for one person costs about $100 a month. Workers do not end up with a lot of money to save, or buy things they want. Many families in rural Puyo live in a one or two-room house, without a bathroom. In my experience, it is normal for people in the U.S. to have an iPhone, but most people here in Puyo have a small, pay-as-you go phone. Electronics are much more expensive due to taxes, and most people use buses to travel around the city, and from city to city, as cars are way above the average budget.
With all of this taken into consideration, the Ecuadorian people are some of the happiest people in the world. It is hard for many Americans to imagine life without their smartphone, laptop, car, private bathroom, or other luxuries. Life in America, for many people, is all about work. We put in our 40 hours per week to save money for our future, and often times, forget to enjoy life in the moment.
According to the 2014 Gallup Positive Experience Index, 84% of Ecuadorians “said they experienced enjoyment; smiled or laughed; felt well rested; and thought they were treated with respect” when asked questions about how happy they felt the day before, whereas only 79% of Americans responded the same. My time here has taught me to live in the moment, and that happiness is about how you spend your time, not your money.
Through my experiences in Ecuador, I have learned about living in the moment, and enjoying life in a different way. People celebrate with their family, having barbecues at the river and birthday parties in the community center. Life is spontaneous, and to be enjoyed as you live it.