We’d like to wish you all a Merry Christmas from Ecuador. Thought it might be a bit lonely here on Christmas Day, but with FaceTime and Skype, we managed to talk to our grandkids, see their presents, and chat with Bob’s mom and brother, plus other friends and family. It turned out to be the most relaxing holiday ever — no presents to wrap (I used online shopping exclusively), no cookies to bake (we bought Ecuadorian Christmas cookies and they’re quite good), no fancy dinner to worry about (we bought an herbed roasted chicken already cooked). So, as much as we might miss seeing everyone, we have to admit it was rather pleasant and soothing.
We started off Christmas week with Star Wars — what better way to start a week! The movie was showing several times during the day in Spanish, but we weren’t ready for that. There were two daily showings in the evening that were in English (with Spanish subtitles — but after about 5 minutes you didn’t even notice the subtitles). We had to navigate to the mall with the movie theatre using a new bus and saw some interesting things on the way.
Walking through Parque de la Madre, we noticed that they had cut down some dead trees but left stumps about 15 ft high. They did an amazing thing with these stumps — mostly carved with chainsaws, as far as we could figure.
In the first one, the trunk was split so they incorporated that into the sculpture.
Here’s what the stumps looked like before carving…
They used other parts of the trunk for benches…
On Christmas Eve, there is a large parade held in Cuenca, the Paseo de Nino, in which families, neighborhoods, small towns around Ecuador, the police, and the military all participate. The parade starts around 10 AM and lasts all day. This year the parade went on for over 8 hours. The costumes and floats are hand-made, and the participants in the parade spend many hours preparing for this one day. There were so many things to look at in the parade that I had a hard time choosing the photos to include.
One decorated with candy:
Extended families (aunts, uncles, grandparents), were represented — some with their own family bands:
Police bands and military trucks with decorations:
Other bands and floats:
Some families dressed up as Mary and Joseph carrying the baby Jesus, with angels, wise men and shepards following them:
And some of the littlest angels had to be carried…
There were a LOT of horses and it was hard to choose the fanciest dresses:
Some of the families came dressed in the indigenous clothes:
Needless to say, we didn’t stay for the whole 8 hours. The estimated crowd watching the parade was around 100,000 and there were people everywhere. As we were leaving, we came across several booths selling clothing for the baby Jesus dolls which were carried in the parade. Some of these outfits were fancier than those worn by the adults carrying the baby.
As we got closer to our bus stop, we saw many of the families that traveled from out-of-town who were hungry and stopped at an indoor/outdoor cafe for lunch. They parked their horses in a plaza outside a church — no sense in letting a little horse stop them from enjoying a nice almuerzo (lunch).
And, finally, here are a couple of photos from the parade that I don’t quite know how to describe:
Next week, there is the New Year’s Eve celebrations — here’s a preview of what we’ll be seeing. Will explain next time…
Hope you all had a great Christmas and hasta luega!