Carnival Welcomes Us to Ecuador

by Valentino

We arrived in Ecuador in early 1997, in the middle of a national strike to oust the President and the so-called religious festival of Carnival. This celebration is basically an excuse to get away with all the trouble you possibly can for about a week and then slide or crawl into church on Ash Wednesday, where all are forgiven for their licentious behavior. Then everyone is supposed to behave themselves during the 40 days of Lent until Easter. Carnival consists of games that involve throwing water and flour at passersby and includes plenty of drinking and dancing the night away and I mean all night. This was our welcome to Ecuador!

We had an apartment set up for us in the small mountain pueblo of San Miguel in the Provence of Bolivar. After a 6 hour bus ride, from Guayaquil, in the very hot, steamy coastal region a shower was high on my priority list. Although I did receive a few showers along the way from Carnival-ites dousing our bus. Well, to ease the water wars during the celebration, the Mayor of San Miguel decided to turn the water off for at least the first 3 days in our new land. There was a spring down the street, so we all learned how to haul water to our "tina" (big garbage can) for all our water needs.

Instructions were given us for the procedure of taking a "bucket bath," which consisted of 1 kettle of hot water and 2 parts cold...not exactly the type of shower I was expecting. I learned to barely wet myself with enough water to get the soap and shampoo to suds and then enjoy the final 2 quarts of water slowly dribbled over me to rinse. Ah life's simple pleasures!

When Carnival ended we expected that water service would resume to normal and it did except not quite as we were used to. Although the water was turned on we only received water for about 1 hour a day. We could now fill our tina from the sink but there was almost never enough pressure to reach the shower head. The other sad reality was that the water often ran from the faucet a muddy brown color.

So this was quite an adjustment for family of 6 from Colorado USA, but looking back on those 3 years they were some of the happiest of my life.

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