Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Parade of the Innocents

We started up classes again, and even though we just had almost two weeks off, yesterday was another excuse for a festival and missing class. The festival was called "Day of the Innocents," which is supposed to celebrate babies being killed when Jesus was a baby. Or something along those lines. It's now an excuse to dress up in costumes and drink, on the other hand.

My students had warned me in advance that we probably wouldn't have night class because the parade starts around 7 pm, but up until 5 pm I was still uncertain as to whether or not there was class. I'd already been told by about half of the students that they wouldn't be going because they had to participate in the parade for the university. I found out that classes were still supposed to go on, so I sadly walked to class knowing that no one would show up.

Only one student showed up. As we talked outside the classroom for 5 minutes while I waited for the paper to sign saying I was in class, we discussed books to read and listened to the music that was getting louder in the distance. Once I signed the attendance I told him we could go. I was not going to give a class to one student out of 23 and I wanted to see the parade. Another student walked by as we were leaving but she had already expected class to be canceled.

I went home to change, eat dinner quickly, and then went back out to Avenida Solano, where some of my students were waiting for me with a good spot to watch the show. It rained the whole night and was cold, but it was fun to watch everything go by. All of the universities and high schools in the area participated in floats and marched by dancing and drinking. This was the first time I'd ever seen a parade stop so that the participants could take shots.

A couple of my students were dressed up like mimes and a couple others participated in the parade as geishas. Some of the costumes were standard--gorilla suits, togas, and soldiers. But the majority were incredibly creative and funny. Some people dressed up as trees on stilts, while others dressed up as ex-Presidents of Ecuador or national heroes. A lot of men cross-dressed and blew kisses to the crowd. An enormous dragon that you'd expect to see at Chinese New Year weaved its way through the street until mis-communication forced the mid-section to fall over.

The rain kept pouring down but everyone stayed watching, pushing closer and closer to the street. Military trucks drove by with trampolines attached, and people dressed in animal suits jumped and flipped as it moved by. When it finally ended by 9:30, the rain had stopped and I headed up to Cafecito to say goodbye to Carol, a teacher at the university who was returning home to Germany.

While there I was talking to her boyfriend, Israel, and another friend named Stalin. I entered both of their numbers into my cell phone, and thought how funny it was to add in Stalin and Israel into my phone and not have it be a joke. We went out for some drinks and I finally got in around 1 a.m., exhausted and ready for bed.

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