Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Fiesta on Wheels

Tomorrow is 6 de Diciembre, the anniversary of the founding of Quito in 1534. To celebrate, the city has been a giant party for the past 8 days. The central event is the bull-fighting festival. The city is filled with billboards of the faces of the world's best fighters. I went to the fights in Pamplona a number of years ago, which was probably enough for a life-time, so I've skipped that part of the festivities. Every night, the streets are filled with people. There's live music all over the place. And it often seems like I'm living in a war zone from the near-constant sound of fireworks. Mostly I've been missing the party and letting my foot heal, but last night I went out with some friends for a chiva ride.


An essential part of the fiesta is to hire one of these open-sided buses with your friends. There are dozens of them crawling around the city with brass bands on top playing repetitive, out-of-tune, clap-along music. During the day lots are filled with families and old people, but at night, they turn into wild mobile parties. A couple of conductors keep the cubas libres (rum and cokes) flowing, and everyone is issued a plastic whistle to increase the ruckus. People dance on the rear platform and hang off the back, although you're not allowed up top with the band. QuiteƱos are immensely proud of their city and everyone is constantly yelling "¡Que viva Quito!" Hanging enebriated off the side of a moving vehicle might not be safe, and certainly wouldn't be legal in America, but it sure is fun!

Update: Here's someone's video of a not-very-full chiva at San Francisco Plaza. We stopped here too, and there were women selling "bengalas" (roman candles) for a dollar. Several other chivas had also stopped and everyone was shooting off their fireworks and dancing.

No comments: