I’m starting to lose track of the number of holidays and festivals I’ve experienced, seen, or heard of since I’ve been in Ecuador. I thought Carnaval was big. But last week we had the annual celebration of the ‘Foundation of Cuenca.’ And let me say, the Cuencanos go ALL OUT for this one. In fact, I’m not entirely sure on which day festivities began last week, and how long they lasted (there may still be things going on this week). Art fairs and exhibits, music on every plaza, two massive parades (that I know of – there might be one I missed), carnivals, evening fireworks and concerts (on multiple nights) and, one of the most surprising sights, a race through the city on wooden push-carts. In one of the parades, each of the local secondary schools adopted the culture of a different South American country. Students built colorful floats, assembled costumes, and learned the dances of almost every country in South America.
I really just happened to stumble upon the wooden cart race. Apparently, this is a long-standing tradition that goes back generations. Every year, people race through the city on these little wooden push-carts. Back when I was in high school, we had annual ‘bathtub’ races. Old bathtubs were converted into carts and raced down an alley way. This is similar. But these people race for miles. Over hilly terrain. And cobblestone streets. Amazing.