Every city has its celebrations, but the Fiestas de Quito is one of the world’s biggest. From the end of November the streets overflow with music and mayhem and Intrepid’s Summer Davis loved being amongst it all…
“For six days in the capital city of Ecuador, every night is a public party and for two days at the finale of this independence day revelry every business closes officially. This week most Quitenos partake of at least one chiva outing (traditional open-air bus painted bright colours), squished in the vehicle amongst drunken companeros belting out traditional Quiteno music along with the popular band on the bus roof.
“Yo soy un chullita Quitena!” rings through the streets, backed by boisterous tuba and brass. The chiva honks its horn non-stop, encouraging cheers from onlookers and shouts from the riders hanging out and off the sides of the wooden clunker. Aguardiente, Ecuador’s national drink, is in ample supply – its clear anise-flavored liquor mixed and passed around everywhere.
At some point, everyone jumps off the chiva in a park or open space and breaks out la vaca loca for some running around and wholesome fireworks fun. The host or hostess of the chiva lights firecrackers attached to a wooden sawhorse and chases around the other guests, holding the aptly named la vaca loca (crazy cow) overhead as it sparks and explodes in all directions.
On December 5th, the party culminates in dancing and singing until dawn at a private residence or other location, where partakers indulge in more revelry and chancho (whole roast pig). The morning’s chuchaqui (hangover) is fed with caldo de pata (a hot soup cooked with a cow’s hoof in a giant cauldron.) December 6th is reserved solely for sleeping and resting after the week’s wearing activities. Arriving in Quito on this day may feel like setting foot in a ghost town. Arrive the week before and you’ll see why!”
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* photo by Jonathan Wong – Intrepid Photography Competition