We had the pleasure of participating in the 2010 census here in Ecuador and let me tell you, it was quite the experience.
It all began with an email in the beginning of November telling us that on November 28th we would not be allowed to leave our houses between 7am and 5pm. That in fact not only were we all going to be put under house arrest, but that all transportation in the country would be shut down. This was the point when I started to worry. You see, our friend Heather was scheduled to be in town that weekend and her flight back to Colombia was supposed to leave at 4pm on Sunday. I headed to the HR department at school to ask for advice….they suggested that maybe she could walk to the airport (around 5 miles…with all her luggage).
Throughout the following weeks we got email updates from the U.S. Embassy that seemed pretty grumpy. It was obvious that the Embassy felt like the government wasn’t being very organized or forthcoming with information.
government has not yet released the regulations, the census agency,
Instituto Nacional de Estadistica y Censo, has indicated that on Sunday,
November 28, from 7:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., all urban residents are
required to remain in their residences. At this point, this also appears
In fact it kind of seemed as if the government was completely ignoring tourism in this whole you can’t leave your house idea. (We ran into one panicked tourist while we were in Mindo. She had left Quito on the advice of the Embassy only to find that all the hotels in Mindo were closing because their employees were required to be at home).
The government did bother to put up encouraging signs all over the place though.
When November 28th rolled around, we hunkered down at home. A high school student showed up around 9am to take our information….and Heather’s. We explained to her that Heather was only in town for 4 days, but that didn’t make a difference. On the other hand we heard about coworkers who told the census takers that they didn’t speak Spanish and therefore they weren’t counted. Not to mention the slew of students I have who said the census takers simply never showed up at their houses. We also met two women in the jungle who had been on the Galapagos at the time and their whole boat was censused. Maybe not entirely organized or accurate, but I digress…
We spent the rest of Sunday hanging out in the house sneaking photos of the various military officers and vehicles patrolling the neighborhood. Apparently the census is pretty serious business.
We even got to watch our neighbor Eric sprint up the street while being pursued by a giant military truck to have lunch with us!
Makes the census in the States seem pretty tame.