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Friday, January 8, 2016

Parades Parades Parades!

I confess it. We skipped the annual Paseo del Niño Viajero parade this year. We did go downtown, but except for checking out the little kids in their traditional dress and eyeballing the occasional decorated sheep, we just cut through the crowd and went to buy some wine.
Yup, sheep wearing food...go figure!
I know, I could we? We've raved about the parade and all that it entails, but seriously...twice was enough, at least for the time being.

That doesn't mean we missed out on the fun, per se. We had three parades march past our building and came across another parade on Boxing Day (that would be December 26th for those of you that aren't part of the Commonwealth). 
Peek-a-boo Parade #1
Note bus waiting patiently for parade #2 to pass
Cristo Rey Parade (#3) Preparation
The street in front of our apartment
These are pictures from the Boxing day parade that we accidentally came across coming from the new cathedral. It's obviously a celebration of plenty and gratitude.
And accompaniments
Cuy on a bed of roasted potatoes
Bean garlands
Giant bottle of booze on a horse
Last minute present? Vendors around the cathedral
He seems quite pleased with his wings.
Roasted chicken eating a $10 bill

We had our usual stroll, late New Year's Eve to check out the big community installations. This year's theme was "FIFA Corruption" apparently. Some of the displays weren't as impressive as they've been in past years, possibly due to the affect of oil prices and the economic slow down, or just because rich fat cats scamming the system is a fairly usual thing in South America and didn't engender any boiling outrage.
Año Viejo Effigies
Could you burn Mario?
This guy was huge, maybe 6'5"
What? They're a roller coaster, can't you tell?
Burning of the Año Viejos
 What we didn't do is stick around for the fires. Instead we headed back to the castle (the apartment - as one of our friends calls it) to watch the fireworks. Many of the families that stay in the city buy fireworks and not just the little cracklers or screamers, but the big, bright colourful ones that you see on Canada Day or during the Symphony of Fire...whatever it's called now. In El Centro, you can hear them going off, but because so many of the streets are narrow, you only get to see a select few. We were curious as to how big the display really was.
One firework
It...was...BIG. Bigger than we could have imagined. As soon as it gets dark (sometimes earlier) they start. Until about 11:45 they're random, scattered around the city and fairly sporadic. And then you get close to midnight and the real show starts. We have a 180 degree view of the city and as the fireworks became more regular I tried to tape a bit of video. And then the horrible thing happened. I ran out of memory card. Yup, just as it was really warming up and I could record the best part. We stood at our window, in awe of the completely dazzling display. The fireworks kept going fast and furious until about 12:25, so we had a good 40 minute show. They wound down a little after 1:am, but continued to go off through the night and over the next couple of days. (I've mentioned that Ecuadorians love their fireworks, right?)

I find myself at a loss for words to describe what we saw, but it was magnificent. I'll be ready for next year, with my large memory card and a perch on the roof of our building. As we've told many friends, if you really want to experience Cuenca at its best, the holidays are the time to visit. There isn't a ton of commercialism during Christmas, but there are decorations and the city gets busier leading up to parade day, so you do get that "feeling". It's just too bad that you can't be in a lofty perch and in the heart of the New Year's festivities at the same time, so plan to come back to experience one or the other the next time. 

More pictures from the parade:

Little Angel
Big Angel (narrowly avoiding a wardrobe malfunction)
Getting ready to mount up
They grow facial hair young here.
The three "wise"
Colonial Influence
Traditional Dress
This little guy could barely stay awake
His parade mate isn't impressed.
So stoic
A dress big enough for a horse.
And the band plays on...
Christ Child a la "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band"
More Traditional Dress
Riding in style
Angel in a toque...a must for every parade
This Christ Child makes almost every parade.
Well, that's it for the crazy holiday season. In a little while Carnival will roll around with all its fun and then we'll be off to the other side of the world for a while. Until the next post, be well and savour life, because it's short.

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