countin' the days

Tuesday, February 05, 2008


Carnaval is quite the celebration in Ecuador. It´s nothing like the classic Brazilian carnaval, or the New Orleans Mardi Gras, it´s something uniquely Ecuadorian. Basically, everyone stops working for a full 4 days (sometimes more), and does this: covers everyone in buckets of water, sprays cans of "carnaval foam" on young and old, parades down the street in lovely costumes and homemade floats, plays slightly altered versions of this same damn annoying carnaval song over and over, and drinks more alcohol than the body should ever see.

I traveled to Guaranda, a small highland town that rarely sees many visitors. But during this time each year, tens of thousands of people (mostly Ecuadorians) pour into town to celebrate their famous carnaval. I had two partners in crime: Lauren, my awesome travel buddy of the moment, and Chris, a Brit we met in Quito who decided to come along for the ride. Being gringos, we were extra special targets for hits of water, foam, and flour; but we fought back with a vengeance. Armed with our own cans of the disgusting, pastel-colored, bathroom-cleaner-smelling crap (think: silly string meets shaving cream, but gone wrong), we moved in and retaliated on every group that doused us with the nasty stuff. It was super fun.

We spent a few hours wandering through the craziness, and then finally got some nice seats right on the street to watch the dancers & partiers pass by. But just like everywhere else in the town, this was a primo spot for getting sprayed -- in the face -- with that dreaded foam. As an added and unexpected bonus, our hotel room had a killer view right out the window onto the parade, so we spent the rest of the day watching from the comfort & privacy of our own room -- and of course throwing foam and flour down on all the people below us (hee hee).

It has, however, had a bit of an expiration date for me. I mean, it´s plenty of fun to get attacked by water, flour, foam, and eggs for a day, but two... three... FOUR... I´m over it. Tonight is the end of it though, and at the moment I have to admit I´m hiding out in an internet cafe to avoid being drenched by the groups of dudes in the back of pickup trucks driving around the city to cover people in water.

Oh yeah, it´s also my 26th birthday. In case you´re interested in the statistics, it´s my 3rd birthday in a row abroad. And the 4th out of the last 5 that I´ve been abroad. It went like this: Spain, Davis, Thailand, Kenya & Tanzania, Ecuador. Dizzamn! Been all around this world.

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