The Drag Queens of Manglaralto

Video

The New Year celebrations here in Ecuador include 3 days of mischievous hijinks leading up to the 1st. Some of you Catholics out there may know of the “Massacre of the Innocents” feast days. The king Herod heard about this baby king of the Jews upstart in Bethlehem, and when the magi double crossed him and didn’t give the baby Jesus, he went on a rampage and killed every kid in town under the age of 2. So goes the story…

To mark the date, kids here dress up as red devils carrying spears with bells jangling from their ankles, and run around poking people and demanding your pocket change. I suppose it’s to represent the angry murdered children. Think of Halloween, but all the kids are dressed as demons, they attack you in the streets and restaurants instead of at your home, and take your money instead of candy. But after dark, things go a little differently.

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Somewhere along the line, this tradition seems to have evolved into something more bizarre. At night Continue reading

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Saint’s Day Montañita

Montañita’s Saint’s Day festivities lasted for 3 days. That’s three days and nights of music and partying in the streets. But the party had a different atmosphere then the usual Montanita locura.

Montanita’s usual scene is a mash-up of young good-looking people from all over the world coming together to surf and party. Like any party town, it can have a bit of a “spring break” vibe at times. At different times of the year the flavor of the village changes depending on whose “spring break” it happens to be at the time. We had the month of Argentinians, the month of Colombians, the weekends before Carnival there are usually tons of Guayaquileños coming in for the weekend at the beach with their families. There are a couple of months when the schools in the Sierras (the mountain highlands, Cuenca, Quito, etc), who are on a different calendar, all have their school break. Right now we are moving into gringo season, with the summer vacations in North America and Europe. Continue reading

Organic Jungle Farm: Pomarrosa

Our van pulled over by a dirt road leading into the bush near the little village of Río Chico. All ten of us hopped out and were met by a truck and Benito, the manager of the organic farm Pomarrosa. “The road from here is too bad to take by car,” he explains. After 20 minutes of bumps and ducking low branches, the truck pulled to a stop. “The rain flooded the river last week and it’s been running down the road ever since,” explained Benito. “We have to walk the rest of the way.” A quick hike later, the trees opened up and we had arrived at the little getaway in the jungle. A perfect introduction to the weekend.

Pomarrosa is run by Benito and his family. It’s a little organic farm in a rural area east of Salangos, just within the boundary of Machalilla National Park. The cabaña is three stories of caña. The ground floor with an ancient pool table, the second floor has the kitchen, dining area, and social area, and the open air top floor with loads of bunk beds and 2 lovely private rooms. Surrounded by all the trees, the air felt and smelled cooler and fresher than under the blazing sun on the coast. The place was an eruption of flowers and birds. After spending most of the morning running around like a crazy person trying to get pictures of the humming birds, I gave up and stuck to the flowers.

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Saint’s Day in Manglaralto

Every village in Ecuador celebrates their Founding Day, and at least one Saint’s Day. I was woken up in the middle of the night by a marching band celebrating a Saint’s  Day and decided to join in the fun. Come take a little tour of Manglaralto with me, and meet some of the friends and neighbors. Added fun of listening to how crappy my Spanish was back in July.

(I apologize for the crap quality of the video. It was dark and it’s a handheld camera.)