Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Carnaval in Cuenca

This weekend we flew down to Cuenca to celebrate Carnaval. Although it isn't necessarily the best place for all the festivities it was fun. On Saturday we spent the entire day walking around the city. We went to a mercado where there were all kinds of fruits and meat being sold, a cathedral, a sombrero factory and had pretty much the best food since I've been here. For lunch we went to a typical Ecuadorian restaurant that used to be a mill and ate carne asada, mote (hominy), habas (kind of like lima beans) and papas fritas (french fries that we just had to order), all pretty much amazing.

On Sunday we went to Ingapirca where we saw the largest Incan ruins in Ecuador as well as some lovely llamas, which Jessica made great friends with (they are like her fav animal and so she took like 59409854908 million pictures of them). Later on we went to eat pizza then we all watched the second half of the SuperBowl game in our (Anina and me) room at the hotel.

On Monday we went to Cajas National Park where there are like 235 lakes en el paramo. This was probably one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen. The first lake we stopped at was surrounded by green vegetation with amazing flowers and birds. It was so peaceful, I just wanted to stay there forever. We drove up and saw other lakes as well. The higher we drove, the foggier and colder it got. I actually wore the most clothing I think I have ever worn in my life for el paramo.

Carnaval is celebrated by having water fights in the streets. People throw water balloons (or bombas), squirt you with water guns or throw huge buckets of water at each other. It's kind of dangerous to walk in the streets but really fun at the same time because you have to dodge the balloons thrown by people in cars/trucks as well as buckets from balconies above your head. I didn't get too wet but on Sunday I definitely got hit right on my face with a balloon. Alex got into the spirit of Carnaval after being attacked with silly string. He bought a bottle of it and ran after the car that attacked him. Although the biggest "festival" we saw was a parade of about 30 people walking playing instruments and singing the Carnaval song, as well as throwing flour filled eggshells (also a fav), it was fun!

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