I rushed back to Banos post Amazonian adventure for what was said to be a great new years celebration.
There are all sorts of traditions here. The big one is the giant puppets known as Monigotes that are stuffed with hay and burned at midnight. They are even clothed in real clothing. The men dress in sexy drag and the women wear yellow bras for good fortune and red underwear for good luck. Banos is covered in people making the paper mache people of all sizes from two to twenty feet. There are various huge concert stages set up on what feels like every other corner. There was an impressive two port potties made of painted cardboard with an out pipe straight to two inches above a sewer. The actual day is a town wide music festival of people dancing through the streets. Oddly, or perhaps fittingly for Ecuador, there isn’t really a countdown and fireworks and puppets start burning at random intervals around midnight. Then, I assume for more good luck, one jumps over the burning puppets.
The festivities don’t stop at new year’s eve here, and I’m told they’ll go on all week. First up is the new year’s day devil parade in the nearby town of Pillaro. Sounds more exciting than the rose parade I grew up with. The family that runs the hostel I’m in was nice enough to bring me to this small town.
We got there a bit early and took the extra time to wander around town admiring all the handicrafts.
I was rather impressed with all these hand made masks and how expensive they were for this country.
The real attraction was definitely the devil masks though.
The fancy ones start having extra horns, extra teeth, even extra heads or dragons attached.
These masks are going to haunt my dreams and I wondered what exactly made them so darned amazing. Nothing I’d seen made of paper mache looked like this.
Luckily not all the masks are so terrifying.
The parade was running on Ecuadorian time, so it was scheduled for an hour and a half after it started last year. Except, it’s Ecuador, so it started yet another hour and half after that. We took a break to go step in the local church, every town has one.
Finally, after the crowd had gathered for a while the parade started.
It wasn’t just for devils though, the people masks made a great return.
Every devil carried stuff in their hand. A lot of them carried water or alcohol, there were a lot of whips, and most disturbingly, lots of animals.
Although there was one thing worse than a skunk.
It wasn’t all depressing though, someone brought their pet.
As the parade went on, the costumes got bigger and more elaborate.
The parade went on for multiple hours but we got tired after a couple. I’m glad I got to see it though. After all this travel and excitement I’m taking a few days of down time in Banos to, as my friend put it, let me soul catch up to my body. Banos is a town of hot springs and it is nice to soak and do nothing in them. Happy Devilish 2013!