Discovery #4: Dorm living in the jungle

I cannot help but see strong similarities between Kichwa community life in the Ecuadorian Amazon and dorm life in United States universities. Some reasons why:

1. The houses: Kichwa houses are small and fit many people. People who have received government housing living in cinderblock houses painted green on the outside that consist of a large kitchen/living area, two bedrooms, and a bathroom. Those who do not have governemnt-provided housing live in wood houses they make themelves. Nothing is sound-proof. Everything is dirty. The furniture does not match and is often made of plastic. There are very few decorations. Everything is cheap and functional first, attractive second. Most importantly, the furnishings are sparse but the electronics are impressive. My host family had a big TV. Their son's house had no furniture except for one table, three chairs, and a desk with a mammoth sound system. There were empty beer bottles everywhere. I felt quite at home.

2. The music: Loud reggaetone, hip-hop, techno, or other form of danceable music can be heard blasting from somewhere most of the time. Sometimes for a change they play '80s music.

3. The alcohol: The Kichwa give college students a run for their money when it comes to beer. Beer bottles (and empty beer bottles) are everywhere, and it is not uncommon to see someone passed out in the street. Of note, a bottle of beer here is twice the size of a bottle in the US and costs at most $1.50. Kichwa culture is a sharing culture and the normal way of drinking here is to buy a bottle (to start with) and plastic cups which they fill from the bottle and pass to everyone. Sort of like a very tiny keg.

4. The sharing: Everything is shared here, including space. Houses are for storage and sleeping but not privacy. People are always visiting other people's houses, asking to borrow something, or sharing a meal. I am strongly reminded of my freshman hall where I spent more time in my friends' rooms than in my own.