September 12, 2011

Fiesta de Guapulo

There's a mountain-side neighborhood in Quito called Guapulo and that area just had a festival for the Virgen of Guapulo, which for most people just seemed like a good excuse to get dressed up in costumes, hang around the church's plaza, eat yummy food and wait until the real festivities started after the church service was over.

Greg and I went a bit early at 6 pm to see if we could catch the parade, but the real fun didn't start until about 9 pm. In the meantime, we ate an empanada, checked out all the costumes, chilled out... and tried to protect our butts from the clowns with whips. Basically, the whips symbolize repentance and during the wait for the party to begin, the youngsters were having fun with their whips, socks filled with something and plastic swords. I don't think their reasoning had to do with repentance though... more like boredom.

I like how this kid's leaning away from me - I wasn't even trying to do bunny ears on him!

My favorite costumes were the ones with the hand-sequined, two-faced masks that a group of people near the church wore. Simply due to the fact that I pointed to the mask and said it was beautiful, the owner took that to mean that I wanted to try it on. So on my head it went. But since it was a guy's mask, it wasn't good enough so one of the ladies in his group came over with her mask (which was also amazing), took off his and put hers on my head. Greg was then offered the guy's mask. And I had to hold her whip - but they didn't use them on anyone's butts. Of course, pictures were taken! We also were asked to pose with a cute little boy and girl in their costumes. I think it was 'befriend a gringo' night at the festival, which has been going on since Thursday night.

Right as the catholic church service ended, the approximately 20-person band with dancers began and the party got started. That was definitely the most fun part of the night! Everyone including the little abuelitas and kids in costumes were dancing almost without stop. It was awesome to be dancing in the plaza with hundreds of other people and just enjoying life. You can check out a short clip here and see the amazing masks I was talking about:

Dancing definitely tired us out, but to walk back up was a climb so we were not done after our bit of dancing. To get to the festival, you have to walk down through winding, narrow streets and stairs to the bottom of the valley. The walk back up wasn't too bad mostly because we stopped a lot. At one point, we stopped to watch the ensuing traffic from the cars trying to go up and down with people parked on both sides of the narrow road. There is only one road going in and out of Guapulo so you can imagine what a mess traffic would be like, too. As much as it wasn't super fun to walk up, it would have been worse to try to take a cab up.

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