Cuenca 2020 Cuenca, Ecuador MSMU Travels

This is Carnaval! #MountMartes

Hola! Welcome back to #MountMartes. This week I will be sharing my experiences with one of the most popular and most celebrated traditions here in Ecuador and many other countries: Carnaval! 

If you’re reading this on Tuesday, February 25th, it is sadly the last day of Carnaval. Carnaval festivities began on Friday, February 21st and went throughout the weekend and through Tuesday. Carnaval is celebrated with many traditions and is different in every country. In Ecuador, Carnaval represents the coming of Lent, which begins on Wednesday the 26th. It also represents the Kichwa indigenous holiday of Paucar Huatay which is the end of the solar year. I love the inclusivity of this special holiday and how they can let it represent different cultures under one celebration.

Carnaval is traditionally celebrated with foods and activities. Soup is one of the most commonly eaten foods in Ecuador, so for Carnaval, there is a traditional soup only eaten during this time called Mote Pata, which is a pork and corn soup. The activities of Carnaval are very fun, but we learned they can be a little bit messy! The traditional activities center around three things: water, foam, and powder. It is very common to be sprayed with water guns or a hose while doing daily things like walking down the street – they’ll even spray water into your car if you’re not careful! Last week, I got my first Carnaval experience when I was invited to a party to celebrate the coming of Carnaval. I was warned to bring a change of clothes, but I thought, ‘there is no way it’s going to be that crazy to the point where I needed to change after this party…’ but boy was I wrong! My clothes were soaking wet, and my roommate Julianna got powder dumped into her hair. Carnaval is so fun and exciting; it was so amazing to be able to experience this firsthand.

On Saturday, there was a Carnaval parade and live music in the Plaza del Otorongo, and we all went to see the cultures on display. There were so many street vendors selling pork, shaved ice, and lots and lots of cans of foam! This was one of the most fun activities that I have experienced in Ecuador, and all of the students in our group went and participated in this cultural event. We all bought the cans of foam and had a foam fight, and one little girl from the town was so determined she was going to get all of us covered in foam – she succeeded, spraying it in our hair and wiping it on our faces. Overall, Carnaval was so fun and enjoyable for everyone in Cuenca. I am so glad we all got to experience it here, and I hope the photos show just how crazy and fun this holiday can get! 

Thank you for reading and look out for another post about the amazing experiences here in Ecuador next week! Also, be sure to check out Tyler’s post on Thursday!

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