Friday, Feb 16, 2018

Carnaval Arrived

Carnaval happened in Ecuador this past week. The businesses were packed with party goers who made their way to this part of the coast to let loose and have fun. Unfortunately it rained the first 3 days of Carnaval. Did you know THIS is the rainy season? I almost laughed in the person’s face when I was told that. My follow-up question was, “What did you call June through December?

…but I digress.


Here is a little background on this holiday called Carnaval. Do you know it is celebrated in 50 countries around the world? Different parts of the world have slight variations in what it looks like, but it all started from the same place. Carnaval was originally an Egyptian pagan festival to celebrate the change from winter to spring. Through the conquests of Alexander the Great it spread to the Greeks, then to the Romans, and then to Christiandom.

The Christians called it the festival of Carne Vale…Meat Farewell. It became a feast before the fast of Lent. In Italy people would gorge themselves during this holiday.

With the colonization of Brazil by the Portuguese, Carnaval made its way to the South American continent. Because the Portuguese also brought over four million slaves from Africa, the festival in Brazil became fused with European and African customs. In Trinidad, which was colonized by the French, the slaves were not allowed to participate in what was Carnaval, so they made their own Carnaval festival with activities purposefully meant to mock the French.


Throughout time Carnaval has become a global celebration. It includes millions of people participating in this festival contributing billions of dollars into the economies of countries around the world.

I saw this contribution of monies into the local economy along the coast of Ecuador this week. All the hotels were full. All the restaurants, from the 2 table types of a home kitchen turned food business, to the full scale restaurants with large menus, great chefs, and fancy wine, were at full capacity. It was a party not to be missed.

Carnaval Crowd

Of course I am not a party guy. I do however like to people watch. So Heidi, Easton, and I did make it to “ground zero” in Montanita during the day. We walked around and watched the many people swimming in the ocean, the hundreds (maybe thousands) of people “lounging” on the beach, and of course those still stumbling and staggering from the festivities of the night before.

When the Party is Over

When it was over, the party chaos changed to exit chaos. We were in Montanita again to watch. Everyone was trying to catch a bus that would take them out of town to Santa Elena, where they could change buses to Guayaquil, and from there, all points in Ecuador became available. As we sat on the second floor of an open patio coffee shop we could see the lines of people trying to get a bus ticket at a make shift ticket counter. It consisted of a table in front of a bakery with a line that snaked around the corner.

As buses pulled up about every 30 minutes, we watched the throngs of people pushing on the folding glass entry door of the bus, trying to be the first to get in. Chaos. Yet an orderly chaos.

The Ecuadorians have grown up doing this. They know how it works and what to expect. They actually seemed very tranquilo about all of it. It doesn’t appear any different to me than an American going shopping on Black Friday….except for the tranquilo part.

Peaceful Places

Of course where we live in San Jose, there was no chaos. It is like our own bubble of peace and contentment in the world. This is a pic of our neighbors enjoying the morning on one of these days of Carnaval. The sun is shining, the surf is warm, and the colors are brilliant. This is my idea of a celebration. 🙂