Things I’ve Learned in Ecuador: #6 You Can Never Have Too Many Parades
About two months ago were the fiestas de la parroquia in my town of Tonchigüe. There was a rodeo, the election of the reina (more to come about that!), bailes and last but certainly not least were the desfiles. Parades are seriously underrated in the United States. Yes, we have Memorial Day parades, the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade, and the infamous St. Patrick’s Day parade in Scranton… but here in Ecuador they really, really, REALLY love parades. Just a rough estimate but I’m pretty sure I’ve seen about twenty desfiles since arriving here in Ecuador which averages out to about two parades per month.
All the local schools participate in the desfiles and there’s lots of marching, baton twirling, and military-looking outfits, but by far the most important and distinguishing characteristic of the desfiles are the drums. I’ve only ever seen about 4 different instruments in the parades: drums, xylophones, trumpets… and more drums. There are about 15 drums to every one other instrument and they can be heard for miles around. There are big drums, small drums, medium sized drums, any kind of drum you could imagine. Goldilocks would certainly not have a problem finding her dream drum here in Ecuador during fiesta time. The drumming is always accompanied by some dancing with batons, inappropriately short skirts and sometimes berets.
There are also the costume desfiles. The marching of the schools I can somewhat understand but these costume parades still blow my mind. I’ve asked around town and there seems to be no rhyme or reason to how or what they decide to dress up as. I’ve seen children in Scream masks, dressed up as gangsters and Native American Indians. There are always all different sorts of animal costumes, traditional costumes from different regions of Ecuador but there’s also sometimes children wearing huge cardboard boxes painted like aquariums and some dressed as migrant farm workers. My favorite was the high schoolers walking around on huge stilts and dressed up in bright, multi-colored clown-looking costumes. Again, I have no idea why and I don’t think anyone else does either.
The best/worst part of these desfiles is that they last about 1 and a half hours minimum. I waited for about two hours in Atacames during one parade to see the kids from my high school and there were still about 15-20 schools yet to pass after them! And since all the towns in my area only have one major road, it’s always fun to see the buses lined up and stuck behind the desfiles for hours at a time. Luckily, I haven’t been stuck in a bus behind a parade yet!
Please someone come visit me! I can almost guarantee you will see at least one desfile!