Last weekend was a huge weekend in Cotacachi. Not only was it the culmination of Semana Santa, (Holy Week) it also coincided with the big spring Leather Fair.
Cotacachi is renowned throughout Ecuador and South America as the leather capitol, and all the vendors were out in force in rows of tents set up by the city. Each merchant was trying to out-do the other with the latest in new fashions.
This was combined with nearly continuous musical performances for three days by various groups, topped off on Saturday night by the famous Chilean singer-songwriter, Alberto Plaza.
Unfortunately, I missed the performance, but it was the talk of the town. Apparently he only sang for about 25 minutes and various rumors had it that he was paid between $5,000 and $20,000. Nevertheless, the event was a big hit.
The stage was very dramatic, with performances held under the large red symbol of Cotacachi at the Plaza del Sol at the Cotacachi entrance.
In addition to leather goods of every description, there was a wealth of other products for sale, from feng shui items to youth-enhancing “snail slime.” The giant snails were a big hit.
Apparently, one of the big upcoming Ecuadorian products is a snail cream called “Caracol.” I bought a two-dollar bottle called “The Miracle Oil of Caracol,” claimed to heal 140 physical problems, for internal or external use.
The snails were extremely inquisitive and hard to contain. Evidently they had had their fill of lettuce leaves.
Regardless of all the music and products, the biggest hit, as usual, was the food. With about 20 food booths, one could eat his way into oblivion.
The Columbian sausages were a big hit, as were the chicken-stuffed mashed potato balls.
And of course, the universal snack food favorite, pizza, is not missing in Cotacachi. Reports have it that Cotacachi has one of the best pizza restaurants in the country.
Pork is high on the list of Ecuadorian national favorites. The deep-fried pork ribs called fritadas were one of the major items consumed at the fair. Take some deep-fried pork, mix it with some mashed potatoes and pork skins fried in pork oil, put a fried egg on top of it, and call the ambulance! But what a way to go!
And for the children. . . well, what child doesn’t like a carnival? These two loved hamming it up for the camera.
This little girl was very lucky to have a stick to lean on. I think she was just about finished for the day. After all, how much fun can one kid have in one day?
For me, the weekend was a great reminder of why I enjoy being here in Ecuador. The Ecuadorians love a fiesta. Exploring the ways different cultures have fun, is great fun for me. I love it! And the citizens of Cotacachi really know how to throw a party.