Mamma Negra Festival in Ecuador – Latachunga,

grey Mamma Negra Festival in Ecuador    Latachunga,

I am in Latacunga, a rural city two hours out of Quito and feeling rather alone. I do not have my english/spanish dictionary nor any maps. I didn’t think that I would need either as my friends have maps and both speak very good spanish. We are here to see one of the most famous festival in ecuador

Unfortunately I was unable to squeeze onto the first bus. The last I saw of my friends was two hours ago as the bus pulled away with them on board leaving me stranded on the platform. I decided to just continue catching busses with the hope of meeting them again. grey Mamma Negra Festival in Ecuador    Latachunga,

We have decided to go to the Mamma Negra festival, this is apparently a must do if you are around town in September. The people of Latacunga live very close to Cotopaxi volcano. Once a year they hold a festival which is an eclectic mix of traditional and christian beliefs to appease the gods and to stop their town being destroyed. They think this works and have clearly forgiven the four times it didn’t work and their city was destroyed. Just as I was getting ready to write off the day as a loss and by pure chance I bump into my friends amongst the throngs of revelers and we set about finding the action. We had a few false starts then follow the music to a street corner where we buy a liter of beer each for $1, beer is a necessity in the sun. The lonely planet reads that once you find the festival it is impossible to not join in. This is very true. grey Mamma Negra Festival in Ecuador    Latachunga,

Soon we are in the street amongst thousands of colorfully dressed people dancing, drinking and enjoying themselves. The parade winds its way through the street helped along by a cacophony of sound provided by countless marching and salsa bands. The atmosphere is electric, everyone is having fun and dancing. Drunk people dance in between trumpet players and guitarists. An army marching band passes us trailed by its own alcohol cart. The band master is holding a half empty bottle of spirit rather than a baton. Couples kiss and dance while we sip our beers and snap away on our cameras. grey Mamma Negra Festival in Ecuador    Latachunga,Even the police are spotted enjoying a sneaky dram. Random paraders regularly approach us and pour various concoctions down our throats. This is for good luck, soon we are feeling very lucky indeed. A foursome dressed in pure white do a cleansing dance around Victor and Vincent. This ends with a man spitting a mouthful of spirits all over them. They are cleansed. A man behind us is passed out clutching an empty bottle of whiskey. We have had about 6 shots of various strengths forced (bend my rubber arm!) upon us and decide it would be wise to leave early rather than risking being drunk and homeless in a foreign, crazy town.

 

 

grey Mamma Negra Festival in Ecuador    Latachunga,grey Mamma Negra Festival in Ecuador    Latachunga,Our good luck with busses continues, we quickly find a bus and soon we arrive at Quito, exhausted but still enjoying the moment. Victor realizes that his wallet has been stolen. It has been a bad week for him with Ipod, camera, jacket and now his wallet growing legs. Back at the hostel I think to myself that the festival would be quite effective. The noise, chaos and mess of that parade would be enough to make any god think twice before messing with the people of Latacunga.

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