The music here pounds through the ground when you walk the streets of Cangahua during a festival. A sea of modestly decorated Andean hats, worn by men and women alike (but adorned by women with a colorful feather, cover the sidewalks and parts of the streets themselves. Others, dressed in ornate and colorful masks, lead a parade which seems to weave throughout the city but focuses on the main street leading up the hill. Behind them follows a truck, outfitted with speakers larger than the musicians and singers who play adjacent to and on the backs of the trucks. Everyone here is a participant. No one, it seems, is just going about their business as usual today. This may be the largest fiesta of the year; it seems like the longest.
The party lasts well through the day, past sunset, dusk, and into the night. The central plaza, which had always been playing music and hosting a variety of street foods, turns into a focal point for live music, dancing, and drinking. More masked dancers appear, more food and drink carts establish themselves, and the bands eventually set up their equipment and play for la gente de Cangahua and los Gringos alike.
The food carts quietly cook pig, chicken, and other more ambiguous meats, fanning the smoke in part to help cook the food but mostly, it seems, to entice passersby. Drink carts scattered throughout the plaza offer a drink called Canelaso - a citrus-flavored moonshine drink which is served warm and belies its alcohol content. Pilsener - a revolting beer which has secured itself a monopolistic position in Cangahua (if not most of Ecuador) is served as well, but it seems less popular than the salive-based Canelaso. Rightly so; Canelaso tastes much better, regardless of any squeamishness surrounding a drink based on saliva.
The staff partied until past 1AM; I relented and slept early but woke up a few hours later, restless from the music in the plaza - easily audible from over a mile away. I fear I’ve missed an important event in staff bonding, but I need to have some faith in my own intuition. I wasn’t going to remain happy if I stayed out there for 2-3 more hours. I can’t force myself to drink that much Pilsener.