It was Christmas Eve of 2003. We were 3000 miles away from every family member. We just wanted to somehow survive the next couple of days as well as we could. Then, unexpectedly, the landlady of our apartment, who lived one floor above us, invited us to view Cuenca’s Christmas Eve parade with her from the balcony of her friend’s apartment who lived directly above the main parade route. We thought, “Sure. That will be a fun diversion for a few hours. It’ll be a good way to soak up some more glimpses of the culture.” But, oh us of little faith. This parade was far more than we could have ever imagined, and it lasted for SIX HOURS! Yes, 6. And we were the lucky recipients of the best seats in the house! Really.
(Click each image to get a closer look. You’ll love the faces).
A huge chunk of the city was completely blocked to vehicles. It looked as if everyone in the southern highlands of the Andes had come to town for the big event. As we were to realize shortly, there were almost as many people IN the parade as there were WATCHING the parade. It started at 9 a.m. and began to wind down by 3 p.m.
There were floats, marching/dancing groups, children dressed in costumes riding donkeys and horses, and lots of pick-up trucks decorated with candies, fruits, flowers, bottles of alcohol and lots of roasted meats to be consumed by the families that night.
I remember being surprised by all of the floats and displays with Biblical themes. And, I don’t remember a single snowman, reindeer, or Elf on the Shelf. 🙂 But I DO remember nativity characters ON STILTS!!
Through the years, we’ve seen our share of parades. Hartselle High Homecoming and Hartselle City Christmas parades for sure. We even went to NYC for Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, but I believe that particular Christmas Eve in Cuenca tops them all. I’m so glad I got to witness it in person.