I've been hearing some Americans complaining about holiday fatigue. Let me tell you all: we've got nothing on Ecuador. The end of November and all of the month of December is a time for partying here. The sixth of December is Quito's independence day (remember that in November we celebrated Cuenca's independence). The celebrations for Quito's independence started on Thanksgiving. At first I was a bit confused; I couldn't imagine why Ecuadorians would be celebrating Thanksgiving. Then, my host mom explained to me that they were just beginning the celebrations for Quito's independence.
These guys were part of the group from La Mejia, a sort of officer training high school for Ecuadorians. Their claim to fame is their ability to shout "Viva Quito" very loudly in unison several times.
This was a cool dance group. If you look closely at the boots the man is wearing you can make out some bells. The whole dance that they did was used to maximize the shaking of the bells, creating a cool effect.
Celebrations culminated with the weekend before the sixth (the actual date fell on a Tuesday). There were parades, art displays, street parties, and a general agreement on radio stations to only play traditional Ecuadorian music punctuated by "Viva Quito!" However, there were only about seven songs that they were playing. When the same songs are played as a constant soundtrack for about two weeks you start yearning for cheesy Christmas music. At least there's a little more variety.
Fortunately for me the Christmas music has started up. There are plenty of traditional Spanish language Christmas songs, but they've also adapted Jingle Bells, giving it Spanish lyrics but keeping the tune. The Spanish lyrics are just "Na-vi-dad, na-vi-dad..." (I forget the rest of the song).
Everyone, however, is gearing up for New Year's celebrations. In Ecuador Christmas is a much smaller holiday. For me this is a bit of a reversal. I'm used to counting down the days till Christmas starting on Thanksgiving and then going to bed at around 10:30 p.m. on New Year's Eve. Here New Year's is celebrated on the street, with fireworks, food, and little bonfires where figures (usually prominent politicians) are burned along with pieces of paper representing the parts of the year they want to forget about. People also dress up in funny costumes, which generally results in men cross-dressing. We'll have to see how I do with that tradition.
In other news my family (the one in Texas, that is) is coming to visit me in Ecuador for Christmas. I've been checking out cool places I want them to see in Quito, and we're all looking forward to a trip to the cloud forest in Mindo (where I went cliff jumping a couple of months ago). Be looking forward to a bunch of even more touristy than normal photos from our adventures. My poor family is going to be reliant on me for directions, so I'm sure we're going to get lost a few times. My awful sense of direction combined with a bad habit of avoiding asking for directions will almost definitely combine to lead us on some less-traveled paths in Quito. It's all part of the adventure, right?
We went together to El Panecillo (the little bread, in Spanish), a small hill dividing northern and southern Quito. It offers panoramic views of the whole city. Behind Vero, Dori, and me you can see a little bit of southern Quito.
My Icelandic friend, Arnar, with me as we were riding in the back of a pickup truck to teach at an impoverished school. On the sweaters: we got them together at an artisan market in Quito. Super good lucking together, right?
Thanks for continuing to read this blog. I'm not sure if I'll be able to get another entry in before January comes along. At any rate, I'm looking forward to getting home so I can see you all in person. Until then, enjoy the photos!