Correction: my weekly column did start in the newspaper today, but it was in La Tarde, the afternoon paper, instead of El Mercurio, the morning paper. Sorry for the confusion.
So last Saturday through this Wednesday marked the celebration of Cuenca Independence Day. It's deliciously fitting and symbolic that we spent 5 days celebrating one "Day," since it sometimes takes that much time for workers to finish a one day job (or to show up for that job).
Most of the businesses, banks included, were closed the whole time. Can you imagine that happening in the US? Sure, we've sort of turned Thanksgiving into a four day weekend (sorry about that, all of you involved in retail) and Christmas into a 3 1/2 day event if it aligns properly with a weekend, but 5 days??? Impossible. Many Americans don't even use all of their vacation days.
Oh, by the way, note that this is Cuenca's celebration of independence from Spain, not the whole country of Ecuador's. You readers from afar might ask, "Why is that?" We citizens here have so many opportunities to ask that question about any and everything that after awhile we grow weary, get beat down and just go with the flow. Unless you're hardwired to be a factoid hunter/gatherer, does it really matter?
Here's what was going on. Merchants from all over South America were here peddling their wares. Some of it was of course crap (I even found some "artisan" clothing with labels from China--oops!), but a lot of it was super-high quality handmade textiles at embarrassingly low prices. After a bit of haggling.
One of the main areas for this was in Madre Park, which happily is quite close to our home.
Here's Cynthia in front of one of the many vendors' stands.
Food was plentiful as well. Candied apples, of course, but do you see the candied grapes??
I especially liked the Ecuadorian version of gingerbread men
And the "gettin' down to basics" hand-churned ice cream
But for some reason we weren't comfortable trying the food here
There was lots of entertainment too. Some conventional
And some curiously unexpected
But you don't know entertainment until you've seen a full blown Ecuadorian fireworks display. Understand, knuckleheads shoot off fireworks all the time here. Sometimes at 6 in the morning. Why? Remember-----------.
This is a whole different level of pyrotechnics and, frankly, danger. In the States an unthinkable number of laws and regulations would be broken by what I'm going to show you. Which makes participation as a spectator kind of---naughty? Thrilling? Liberating? I'm not quite sure how to describe it.
This tower is loaded with explosives. And note the proximity of the crowd.
The "Mad Bull" starts the action
by becoming a mini-fireworks display and then igniting the bottom of the tower
The crowd looks wary of what's about to happen
And for good reason because suddenly all hell breaks loose!
But after all that the crowd notices the top of the tower somehow didn't explode
So party on!!
Exciting, huh? Guess what--there was another tower on the other side of the park.
But see the sign on the top. This one was sponsored by the local government, so it was surely much safer, right? Uh, not so much-----
After all the walking, shopping, eating, drinking, and fireworking our tongues were hanging out.
So we're resting up now and getting ready for not 5 days but 5 WEEKS of shenanigans in the US soon. God help us!!