Angie spent the summer of 2011 in Ecuador in to visit family, do “touristy things” and study the language. She already knew some things about the language because she had studied for four years with a professor who had lived in Ecuador. She visited cities and towns near the Andes, like the city Ambato and surrounding areas. She lived in Ambato, traveled to the Amazon twice, to the beach once and to the capital, Quito, once.
Traditional garb in Ecuador consists of ponchos and pants for the men and wraps and skirts for the women. One can tell what community a person belonged to based on the color and style of their clothing. Many different tribes live in the Amazon and many in the Andes, each with their own color and style.
Women make ponchos for their sons as a coming-of-age gift. Angie would see women carrying large containers of sheep’s wool around with them throughout the day, meticulously constructing thread. Sheep’s thread is much more expensive than alpaca thread, so while tourist ponchos are generally made of alpaca thread and cost around $20, women make their sons sheep thread ponchos at a value of about $100. In addition, women go to great lengths to dye and treat the wool so that it is waterproof. This is a coming-of-age gift because the boys begin to represent their culture by wearing the poncho. Because so much time and effort goes into making these ponchos, they generally last the boys a very long time.
Angie noted some other interesting things regarding clothing in Ecuador. Although she doesn’t remember the exact styles, single and married women would wear their wraps differently, as a sign of modesty. Also, she saw a group of children in a playground- some were wearing ponchos and some were wearing very Americanized clothing.
These Ecuadorian tribes that Angie met put a lot of their identity into their traditional clothing. Based on colors and style, one can observe an individual’s community or marital status. This is a very outward, very public display of one’s identity.