Saturday, December 25, 2010

El Pase del Nino Viajero

I know there are other places around the world that hold to the traditions of Christmas in a way that resonates the Spirit that can be felt, seen, and heard.  Place Cuenca on your must-see celebratory Christmas venues.  I know it's easier to impress the Iowa farm boy that I am because the parades in Iowa are always replete with the incongruous entries of combines, terragators, firetrucks, ambulances, and yes of course the local saddle club that brings up the rear.  It doesn't matter what the holiday is, they're all there and the subtle differences might be that the parade marshal wears a Santa hat on Christmas and a red white and blue tie on Independence Day.  But let me tell you, this is different.  There wasn't one combine, one firetruck, and no one was advertising State Farm Insurance either.  It was all about a little Nino in a far off place called Bethlehem.  The costumes were bright and beautiful and the childrens faces were...angelic. 


Suffice it to say that the children of the city and the surrounding area are not only in attendance, they are the Christ-like focus.  I remember being dazzled by the colors on the street in Otavalo on market day.  There is a sort of optical inebriation that occurs that makes you glad you are alive to witness it.  So it was on this day.  You know that you can never really describe it to someone in a way that they can picture it, so you pull out your camera and discover that even Sony can't do it justice.  You just have to be there. 

For more great pictures, please go to Chuck and Nancy's site where they captured some great color:

Sometimes the parade got pretty slow, but it never seemed to stop altogether.  Crossing Mariscal Sucre on foot was a feat.  Crossing it with a bicycle was Mission Impossible.  We parked and locked our bikes on the garden railings in Parque Calderon and sprouted feet.

After watching the parade for a couple hours Rachel and I decided to join friends at California Kitchen for a pre-arranged lunch. We unlatched our bikes and walked them through the human gauntlet.   After crossing Mariscal Sucre I looked back and Rachel was no where to be seen.  She was swallowed in a sea of humanity.  How  hard could it be to find a gringa with a bright red bicicleta I asked myself?  I turned around, Mongo at my side and dove back into the swarming mass, and found the going even more difficult.  Still no Rachel.  I knew she was ok, but where was she?  Pushing around in the crowd was useless so I found the highest spot in Calderon and still no white blouse with a red bike in sight.  I had told Rachel that California Kitchen was only a few blocks away on Gaspar Sangurima, so that would seem to be the logical place to find her....eventually.  Mongo and I pushed back though one more time and I rode my two wheeled black steed over to Cali Kitchen and waited for a bit.  After ten minutes I decided to leave my bike and to retrace steps back to where I had lost my bride.  I knew that Rachel really didn't know her cartography here very well, so she could have taken any of about 4 different routes, or perhaps she was simply was 'stuck'.  Eventually I found her walking her Scarlet, still beaming her smile, and engaged in conversation with someone who looked like a gringo (but wasn't).  She knew that gringos would  be the best hope in guidance to a place called California Kitchen!   I think there was a little Christmas spirit that guided me to her in that moment because I might still be looking for her without a little 'luck'.   Our lunch with friends was grand and their hugs were heartfelt and warm.  We got a standing ovation for finding each other but of course I got taken to the woodshed for losing her in the first place.  You might ask about why we didn't call each other on our cell phones.  That would simply be too easy.  Her cell phone was in her purse.  Her purse was in my back pack.  My backpack was where it was supposed to be.....on my back.  I'll never again make light of the Ecuadorian dairymen who milk their cows in the pasture and carry their milk in buckets for miles.

By comparison, the dairyman method of milk transport is genious.