Celebrating Colorful Cuenca

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Cuencanos doing a Peruvian dance in one of the parades celebrating the foundation of the city.

I’m starting to lose track of the number of holidays and festivals I’ve experienced, seen, or heard of since I’ve been in Ecuador. I thought Carnaval was big. But last week we had the annual celebration of the ‘Foundation of Cuenca.’ And let me say, the Cuencanos go ALL OUT for this one. In fact, I’m not entirely sure on which day festivities began last week, and how long they lasted (there may still be things going on this week). Art fairs and exhibits, music on every plaza, two massive parades (that I know of – there might be one I missed), carnivals, evening fireworks and concerts (on multiple nights) and, one of the most surprising sights, a race through the city on wooden push-carts. 2015_0416n In one of the parades, each of the local secondary schools adopted the culture of a different South American country. Students built colorful floats, assembled costumes, and learned the dances of almost every country in South America.

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Tango dancers in the parade, demonstrating Argentinian culture.

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Students dressed in traditional Bolivian attire.

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A group decked out as a Brazilian drum core.

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For me, it’s sometimes just as fascinating to watch what’s happening on the sidewalk. This man has a large plate of fried donut holes – he puts them in bags and sprinkles them with sugar – and is quite popular.

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Near the beginning of the parade, a contingent from each school marched in school uniforms carrying school banners.

2015_0416p I really just happened to stumble upon the wooden cart race. Apparently, this is a long-standing tradition that goes back generations. Every year, people race through the city on these little wooden push-carts. Back when I was in high school, we had annual ‘bathtub’ races. Old bathtubs were converted into carts and raced down an alley way. This is similar. But these people race for miles. Over hilly terrain. And cobblestone streets. Amazing.

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2 thoughts on “Celebrating Colorful Cuenca

  1. What colorful outfits everyone is wearing. Looks like a people who love life and really celebrate it. Hopefully they can continue to be removed from the nasty stuff that’s happening around the globe, if, in fact, they are. You should publish a book on Ecuador with all your wonderful pictures.

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    • Glad you’re enjoying the photos! I actually think it’s the difficult stuff in life – and the really bad stuff that happens (out of our control) – that makes people want to celebrate the good times all the more. Ecuador has had it’s share of difficulties in living memory – wars, poverty, economic upheaval, corrupt presidents – much more than anything we’ve had to face in the States in the past few decades. Even now, with the falling price of oil (Ecuador’s major export), the country is facing some big economic challenges. The government has recently imposed major import taxes to try to make up for what’s been lost due to falling oil prices. Tires for your car, for example, now cost about twice as much here as they do in the States. Clothes and electronics are also more expensive. Crime is a problem and everyone lives behind big walls – sometimes with electric fences, sometimes with broken glass stuccoed to the top of the wall to prevent people from climbing over. It’s worthwhile to be cautious ALL the time, and I think that’s a reality that most North Americans have a hard time getting used to (and drives most of the expats here to live in apartment buildings with 24-hr surveillance and security). But people here are very proud of their traditions and culture, and when there’s something to celebrate, they go ALL OUT.

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