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  Papeete, the capital city of islands of Tahiti, is a travel destination full of life and perfect introduction to the islands unique fusion of French flair and exotic Polynesia. Papeete has beautiful beaches tailor made for swimming, surfing and body boarding, and it is the centre for international competitions with some of the best surfing spots in the world. You may laze around at the beaches  [...]

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A festival of joy in Ecuador

Posted on October 6, 2010 | Festivals6 Comments

I have been here for no more than an hour. It is the Corpus Christi festival held in Cuenca, Ecuador but I’ve known her for more than a few weeks now. The little mop-haired, beady eyed girl can be no more than seven or eight years old, even if she looks older than her age. Ours was a friendship forged on the sort of opening line one friend doesn’t normally say to another. In halting English, she asked me if I wanted my shoes polished. I politely refused her offer, smiling inwardly when I saw that I was wearing a pair of simple canvas sneakers that she couldn’t have polished at all. I found her lack of observation interesting; she found my wobbly Spanish to be even more interesting.

Corpus Christi festival Ecuador

In the weeks that followed, she taught me (at my request) several gestures and phrases that would doubtlessly offend Ecuadorians and I have taught her, among other things, hop-scotch, patty-cake and a game of statue. Andrea is nothing more than a lady-child, but she has been stripped of her innocence. She is a businesswoman, a shoe shiner on whom her family depends for its next meal. As a kid, I was always told that I shouldn’t talk to strangers and I lived a protected childhood. To then see Andrea flit from person to person asking if they wanted to avail her services unnerved me more than a fair bit.

Corpus Christi celebration

On the occasions that she does find one, she guides them over to the bench and kneels before them as she sets about doing her job in as professional a manner as she can. Her mother is ailing and her brother is but an infant. She makes no mention of her father and I think she’d rather keep it that way, which is why I ask nothing of him. She is an exceedingly sweet child with an exceedingly large responsibility, more than any child should be asked to bear and through it all I have not seen her really smile even once. With time, the festival gets into full swing and no one wants their shoes shined and so Andrea makes her way to my side, offering me a sweet little hello before taking my hand and guiding me across the square.

Corpus Christi festival

Officially, Corpus Christi is a Catholic celebration. But I am in the Andean Highlands and this festival is often celebrated by locals who aren’t catholic at all. They speak Quichua and Corpus Christi here is a melting pot of cultures and you can’t quite tell where one culture stops and another takes over. The festival itself is an orgasm of colors and sounds and music hits you from every conceivable direction. Sweet delights, balloons and a motorized caterpillar are all a part of it and it makes the festival a bit surreal. In the distance, fireworks pop and I stop in my tracks but Andrea tells me “it’ll be fun” in her local tongue and so it is.

Corpus Christi festival Ecuador

The flames spit out in all directions as the crowds gather. And in this far-off version of Disney World on Independece Day, I am enamored and child-like but Andrea leaves my hand and says she’ll see me tomorrow if I walk the usual route and so said she runs off into the crowd to ride the caterpillar unencumbered. For a moment, she is a child again and in those sparkling lights of Corpus Christi, I finally see her crack a smile. She has found a little slice of heaven at Cuenca’s height of 10,000 feet and in the moment all is right and the child in Andrea is alive.

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  • Illeana Ryle says:

    Ecuadorians love to have fun in carnivals. Carnival, the biggets festival of the year, is a week before Lent (in the month of February).It’s famous for the waterfights where not even tourists are spared!! Corpus Christ festival is indeed awesome in Quito! :-)

  • Patton Wilkerson says:

    Ecuadorians are very lively and good-natured people..I had been to a place called La Boca del Lobo in the heart of Quito and we had the famous Ecuadorian soup Locro de Papa with avocados, potatoes and cheese!! It was just awesome!
    I was warmed by the ambiance and grace with which we were seated..We had a very good time here at Quito :-)

  • Maggie Hudgens says:

    I love Quito people and the Ecuadorian culture, which is a stark contrast to our English culture! I loved the crab soup starter which I had at Zazu..I’ve never had a tastier tuna ever in my life than I had here..If compared to European rates, this place gives you full value for your money!

  • Rudy Frost says:

    We just returned from Galapagos to Quito..We were surprised to find this restaurant Zazu in a rangy surrounding, but as we set our foot inside the restaurant, it was completely another planet…The food was great and the ambiance extra-ordinary! I still crave for that ceviche covered with bacon till today! Thanks for the post! :-)

  • Yjee says:

    I had a great experience here at Quito! I enjoyed the traditional home-made food here at Quito at a friend’s place! The food was an equatorial delight! There’s a place called Hacienda La Alegria an hour’s distance from south of Quito, located in the Andes mountain ranges with horses and llamas and cows, this place has all the scenic beauty in the world..I explored the entire landscape on a horseback..Cotopaxi, the highest volcano in the world is a two-day ride from here! A MUST-VISIT TO QUITO! :-)

  • Gianna Samuels says:

    A heart-rending post!
    Thanks! :-)

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