The carnival is over, fortunately. Four days of pure madness. Four days when it was impossible to go out and stay dry and clean. Foam, water balloons, flour and eggs flying in the air. For four days, from dawn till dusk. Crowds, concerts, beer. A hell lot of beer. Beer that could be bought everywhere: in a grocery store, in a bar, in a bookshop, a jewellery store, at shoemaker’s or just on at a one of many stands or directly out of a trunk. The same for the foam. To buy everywhere and then on everyone’s face. Especially on mine, because getting a gringo is far more interesting. At the beginning I tried to avoid it. I was sneaking behind policemen’s backs or next to the wall, the furthest possible from the people. And then I took a whole bucket of water on my head and I had to surrender. I just bought a can of foam so I could pay back.
But carnival has some more to offer than water fights and dancing. In the opposite corner of the main square the craftsmen and food sellers put their stands. Besides Ecuadorian part, there were also the representatives of other countries’ cuisines. Italian pizza, French wine, Mexican taco, some Columbian and Brasilian dishes. Then the trucks with hamburgers, barbecues and big pots with humitas and tamales (traditional dishes from the corn flour) spread in whole Vilcabamba.
I didn’t make it to the funfair set in the northern part of the town. I always saw the big Ferris wheel growing over the low buildings and rotating definitely too fast for me and successfully keeping me out of that part of the town. The next attraction I missed was a big caterpillar shaped road train circulating the streets for about two weeks. It played music and flashed lights – for the psychoactive substances fans, that are many in Vilcabamba, it was surey an astonishing view.
For me, though, the main attraction of the carnival was a paso horses competition. I heard about it for the first time from Adriana, Dawid’s wife. I wrote about them here. The last year the competition took place at the stadium on the terrain surrounded by a fancy fence. Suddenly, one of the horses during the show decided to be free. He got out of his owner’s hand and started running around the stadium then broke through the fence and ran to the audience. Finally someone caught it on the lasso. For some reason, he got disqualified. In the meantime, the other competitors were standing there confused and didn’t know if the competition was still going on and what they were supposed to do in those circumstances.
This year they were no such attractions. First, the show. Three categories: mares, geldings and stallions. Then the prizes and another pass. Here a little explanation. There are two paso breeds – paso fino and paso peruano. They are kind of mixed here. They both have a special kind of pace (which is a lateral amble), which is far more comfortable for the rider than a normal trot and has the same speed. And it looks… well, strange. As shown below:
Carnival… tiring. Interesting experience. The next time I will, however, probably escape to the mountains for few days. The only victim is my hat. It was took of my head in the crowd, then it just disappeared faster than I was able to react and never came back. I miss it, I suffer but the life goes on. I’m going to make a new one with Gian Paolo, an Italian self-taught shoemaker and leather artisan. Fot both of us it’ll be the first hat made in life.