Thursday, November 5, 2009

Cuenca's Independence Day!

Cuenca celebrates her independence from Spain on Nov 3 (1820). It's an Ecuadorian-wide holiday. Some businesses close for the entire week.

When the 2 other largest cities, Quito and Guayaquil, celebrate their independence, it's a national holiday, too.

We missed the big military parade, but we did enjoy the other one that passed downtown past the main square. It showcased floats, marching bands, dancing, lots of native dress. We think each area of Ecuador was represented.

Crowd at the main square awaiting the parade.

This group stopped right in front of us and performed a 'hunting' dance/skit. You can see the 'deer' in the center. The dancers tied him up with their colorful shawls and carried him away at the end.

So many bright colors and wide variety of hats and clothing.

The crowd was several deep along the route and, at one point, the crowd spilled into the street and stopped the parade. No one seemed to mind. No barriers to keep the people out of the way. (A couple of police barriers blocked traffic from side-streets.) A nice blend of the parade and the people. You can see the native hats in the center of the pictures.

It wasn't raining, folks used the umbrellas to shield from the hot sun (it's summer here, about 80 degrees... which feels alot hotter in the sun).

On stilts.

Decorated floats on the back of flatbed trucks and pick-ups.

Each float celebrated their region's bounty.

Bunches of bananas on this decorated truck.

This last float carries the beauty pageant contestents.

During this several day celebration, we also attended a mariachi band concert with friends at the fairgrounds. Good music and a party crowd! The later it got, the more dancing, singing, celebrating. When we left about 10:30, folks were still coming in...and the party was just getting started. The crowd was doing the 'wave' and the macarena, just like at sports events in the US. Each time someone on stage would say (something) Cuenca, the crowd roared. (We think the missing word was 'viva!') A lot of City pride!

On the night of Nov 3, we were in the main square downtown to see the fireworks. We didn't have the camera with us, but we did get to see President Correa at a distance. He and other dignitaries were sitting on a balcony overlooking the square. We waved! Of course, when he waved to the crowd, we just *knew* he was waving at us!

We think he gave a speech before we got there and he was waiting for the firework display, like everyone else!

Fireworks are a favorite here. They are launched at every opportunity to celebrate.... weddings, birthdays, other special events and, probably, just 'cause they can!

At the concert, they were shot right over the crowd. We've never been so close to fireworks before. Looked right up into them. At the square celebration, there was a free-standing 'structure' loaded with explosives. When it was lit off, it went nuts! Fireworks and rockets shooting all over the place! It was smoky, stinky, very loud and, actually, quite thrilling!
Cuenca is getting back to her 'normal' routine after this multi-day holiday. That is, until the NEXT celebration!!

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