By Megan Bond, KF15, Ecuador
Music, parades, disguises, fabulous street vendors, dancing in the streets, dancing in the fields, dancing wherever you feel like it – the Ecuadorians I’ve met love a good party and there’s nothing like a traditional fiesta to generate the right mood for all of the above. Fiestas have been a great opportunity for me to join in and have fun with the locals. Villages and towns all over have their own festivals days and there are certain times a year when the entire country is celebrating.
June marked the revered Festival of Saint John the Baptist (San Juan Bautista), celebrated on the 24th. The famous market town of Otavalo and its surrounding villages have some of the liveliest celebrations. There’s dancing in the streets during the nights leading up to festival day, and on its eve people dress in costumes, especially having men disguised as women and women disguised as men. This festival was the most famous of all that occurred during my Kiva Fellowship. However, one thing I simply loved about living in Ecuador is that there does not need to be a specific holiday to enjoy the glories of a city-wide party.
Sometimes, as I walk home from working at FODEMI’s offices in Ibarra, I can hear the music of the San Juan holiday blaring from a courtyard. Men and women practicing their dances call the attention of passerby. Again and again, the dancers practice their formations in unison as seen in this video. The song they are dancing to is called Toro Barroso (literally “muddy bull,” you can hear the chorus of “corre toro, sí señor, corre toro, sí señor“).
For reasons unknown to everyone I asked, there was a festival in the style of San Juan in Ibarra along the shore of Lake Yahuarcocha this past weekend. Two groups of more than a hundred dancers took over an empty field in a day-long competition. Trumpets blared, crowds formed, and everyone had a great time (even if they were unsure exactly why they were having a fiesta). Check out the dancers below…do not let their costumes deceive you.
Megan Bond is a Kiva Lender and a Kiva Fellow working with the new partner FODEMI in northern Ecuador. For more information on FODEMI, visit FODEMI’s partner page or English website. If you would like to support FODEMI and its borrowers, please join its newly created lending team. If you feel so inclined, check out our currently fundraising loans!
Past posts by Megan Bond: