I´ve decided to do a side study on murals. They´re everywhere: Sometimes on a corner; many times times they come in a series on a long wall. Some are really expertly done and are huge. Others are done by school children. It´s a lot more pleasant to see a 300 foot wall featuring a series of murals than graffiti. I don´t much about them, except that they are especially popular in Mexico (Diego Rivera et al.). The ones here often have historical, political, social, religious and cultural themes. The ones on the walls of grade schools and high schools emphasis the importance of education. There´s also this theme of blanquemiento (whitening). It´s the idea of many Ecuadorians that progress equals a whitening of its people and culture. There is a lot of prejudice here against indigenous people. The whitening process applies mostly to them and excludes Afro-Ecuadorians. Anyway, I´ll be shooting lots of pictures of murals, and then doing a content analysis of them when I get back to Bradford. I´ll also be doing some sort of lit review for obvious reasons.
So what are communications like? You might be surprised. ´Right now I´m staying at an inexpensive hotel that has t.v. I get 68 stations. How´s that. CNN, ESPN, Fox, History Channel, Discovery. I watch soocer games from all over the World – Europe (UEFA Cup), Latin America (the Copa de Liberatores), and the U.S. (MSL). The men´s and women´s NCAA basketball finals, NBA games and MLB (they like the Yankees, the Mets, and the Red Sox the most) Several staions emanating from Mexico, and a couple of more from Colombia. A couple of stations in Chinese. Impressed yet?!!! Cartoons, cooking shows, do it yourself shows and lots of beauty/fashion shows. Lots of movies in Spanish (Mexico especially), English (guess where?), German and French. Some dubbed, many with subtitles.
Telephones? Land lines are scarce and expensive to install. So a lot of people do not have land lines. No problem. If you can´t afford to own a phone, you simply go to a public phone store. There are several providers, and it seemslike ther´s a place on every block. And it´s cheap. I can call the U.S. for ten minutes for about $3. Incidentally, U.S. dollars are the currency here, so everything is super easy, including ATM machines. But a ton of people, including lots of teenagers have their own cell phones. Those towers are less expensive to build than land lines, so Ecuador will probably be skipping that whole land line thing that we did for over a 100 years. Text messaging appears to be equally of interest here as in Bradford.
Internet? No problem. There´s an internet place or two on every block of every town. These places are commercial computer labs, and they are filled with people surfing the web (one place has a sign that says porn will break the machines), emailing people, writing papers, and videocalling people all over the world.
LIKE TO DANCE?
We don´t really dance too much in the U.S. Ibarra is full of discoteques (spelling?). Not too busy on school nights, but they are packed on Friday and Saturday nights. Some places cater to teens. The drinking age here is 18, and I don´t know if they card anyone. You can by individual drinks, but most groups of people (small or large) buy setups and a bottle, and serve themselves. And they dance. Ni, I mean they dance! The music booms, the lights flash, the mirrors provide multiple images of all the dancers as song after song transitions unnoticeably from one to the next. Out-of-shape people need not apply. What´s interesting is that these places are packed with people of all ages, not just the young.
I´m staying at the Hotel Royal Ruiz. Mr. Ruiz owns the place. It´s a modern, four story place, with a dining room on the second floor. You have to picture everything scaled down from what you know in the U.S. My room is about 12 X 12, and is modestly furnished with a bed, desk, and two end tables. It has a great view of a 1000´ high ridge ridge to the east of the city. I already told you about the t.v. I have a private bath with 24-hour hot water (In Ecuador neither is to be taken for granted). A nice breakfast comes with the room. I looked at another place that was in an old home with a BEAUTIFUL indoor, covered patio. But it had a shared bath, no t.v., and no breakfast. They wanted $6 a night. I´m splurging, and paying $16 for what I have.
I´ll check in again with you soon. Hasta la vista….