Ecuador Culture: Fun, Fanciful and Sometimes Unfathomable

Observing the nuances of Ecuador culture is a fascinating and absorbing pastime for me. I'm the first to run to the window or out into the street to film or photograph a parade or festival. In Cotacachi they are numerous and varied.

The Virgin of Quinche is revered each year with a long pilgrimage that begins in Quito and leads to the town of Quinche. The Virgin is believed to have healed the sick.

Christmas in Ecuador is not celebrated to the excess that it is in North America and elsewhere. Indigenous children don't traditionally receive gifts but in recent years have come to expect a bag of cookies and candy. For three years Gary and I, along with expat friends, have provided these treats for a number of villages.

One of the strangest celebrations in Ecuador is the New Year's Parade in Atuntaqui, a town between Cotacachi and Ibarra. There the men have a lot of fun cavorting in drag. Sometimes their costumes are extremely provocative and raunchy.

Cotacachi is known for trompo, a unique competition played for weeks and months up and down the streets of the town. Teams of boys and men spin a wooden top, toss it at a wood and metal disc and then record how far the disc is propelled down the street.

The Paseo del chagra is an annual celebration of the horse, specifically the paso fino, a fine Spanish breed. Men and women of all ages show off the skills of their steeds. Like their horses, they are decked out in their parade best.

Bull fights are not the bloody affairs they are in Spain. Young boys and teens chase young bulls and then are chased in return. The spectacle is an exciting and amusing affair as bullocks strut their new-found power to resist subjugation and kids squeal with glee and fright as they climb the stadium walls to avoid horns and hoofs. Clowns and adults keep the event safe.

Click here to read more about Ecuador culture; its customs, beliefs and behaviors and how to act responsibly in a country other than your own.

Also get a glimpse of the cultural offerings in Quito each month by reading the blog posts of our Quito cultural arts reporter, Liliya Bykova.

Here's a taste of the culture of Quito in a webpage about the Olga Fisch Folklore Museum, a treasure-trove of fine art, wool tapestries, carved figurines and antique reproductions of household items and toys from Ecuador's past.


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