I didn’t realise that alcohol played such a part in Ecuadorian culture. My own experiences tell a different story, for example the Quito party where dancing was the focus and alcohol was secondary. But maybe my impressions are more to do with the small amount of experiences that I’ve been exposed to, rather than a broader view of the national trends and pastimes.
On my travels I’ve often been met with ‘What? You don’t want another beer? – but you’re English!’, referencing the stereotype of Brits’ obsession with booze. Are the Ecuadorians really on a path to the same reputation?
There are surely many sides to this debate but for President Abdalá Bucaram Ortiz to introduce alcohol laws in 1996 that included Sundays being dry days, there clearly must be some basis for concern. In 2010 there was a revival of these restrictions, and then, following multiple deaths from contaminated local wine in 2011, there was a three day alcohol ban. During past elections, the Ecuadorian government has insisted on an alcohol ban so that people vote with a clear head. Not altogether a stupid idea, although somewhat authoritarian.
These restrictions have caused some frustrations, including among businesses who argue that fewer people visit their premises on a Sunday. Less sympathy goes out to the gringos who complain that they can’t party quite so easily. Please don’t get discouraged from visiting Ecuador just because you can’t get pissed every day.
So, it’s Sunday. The shops and restaurants have shut up early and people have retreated to the quiet of their own homes. I wonder how much of a tactical move this dry day is to ensure that the start of the working week is hangover free. ‘If you’re around later and want to come to a rave’, says a Baños café owner to me one Sunday, ‘then you’re welcome along’.
Clearly, alcohol restrictions only have so much of an impact.