Celebrating Life in Ecuador

Recently, I went to Ecuador where I was interviewed on Radio Quito (about “intuitive decision making” and the I Ching). In turn, I taped interviews with leaders of the rain forest environmental movement for Pathways radio and podcast.

Ecuadorians — especially the people of the city of Cuenca — are especially lively, open-hearted and gracious. For instance, how strange — and nice — it is that Ecuadorians throw spontaneous street festivals for seemingly no reason … like a recent Wed evening in the main square of Cuenca, which featured a dance performance followed by a grand finale of wild spinning fireworks.

There I was, sitting on a park bench in the square wearing my new Panama hat (which are made in Ecuador) when a 12-piece band and a spinning folkloric dance performance seemed to arise out of nowhere. The dancers were 6 beautiful young ladies in vividly colorful dresses and 6 strapping lads whose pants appeared to be patched with some kind of fur.

Towards the end of their exuberant performance, each of the dancers gave one spectator a long-stem rose and, as I was standing near the front, one of the beautiful girls gave one to me. Soon after, that same athletic danseuse returned and pulled me with her into the final dance. There I was, in front of a crowd of about 200 people, wearing my new broad-brimmed hat, and holding the long stem of that rose between my teeth while I tried to keep up … even pretending (medium-level salsa dancer that I am) that I was actually leading my whirling barefoot partner, her skirt flying high, a patchwork of bright reds and pinks. After the dance was over, as I sheepishly merged back into the crowd, an american woman standing nearby said to me, “You sure are a good sport” … whereupon I immediately gave her the rose!

The entire cultural experience was so spontaneous … and honest. There was no pretense about what was a joyful celebration of community life. It was obvious the dancers had rehearsed, that they had done this before. I wish, in retrospect, that I had trotted out my hobbled Spanish (along with my two left feet 🙂 and had asked somebody what the occasion was … but, you know, it really didn’t seem to matter … celebration is just a good thing, no matter what the reason!