Day 4 – 01.11.2009
It rained for the most part of the night. I think. And a little bit in the morning, judging by the look of the streets and the mist that engulfed the whole town. Besides, it’s very, very cold! It’s like an early morning in Predeal in autumn.
When we went out for breakfast we felt like in a ghost town – no one on the streets and all the shops closed. Today and tomorrow they celebrate the Day of the Dead, therefore everyone is at the cemetery. They clean up the tombs and people bring flowers and colored breads shaped like children, as an offering.
We had a huge breakfast at one of the few places we found open. Two mugs of coffee and milk. The milk was fat and smelled like natural fresh-out-of-the-cow milk. Papaya juice, bread, butter and jam completed the picture.
After breakfast we checked out the market, only to find it just as deserted as the rest of the town. A tourist information center told us it was well worth a walk to the cemetery to see the proceedings. And what a walk it was! The cemetery is on the other side of town. We soon realized that the crowd that was in the market the day before, had moved in its entirety to the cemetery today. And they were still coming in from neighboring villages.
All dressed up for the occasion – the women in white shirts with starched sleeves, colorful necklaces and scarves around their necks. The men too had white shirts and pants and a thick black or blue poncho that matched the color of their hat. They all went to see their dead. And they were all dressed the same. […]
The little street that led to the cemetery was packed with sellers. They were all crying aloud about the fresh fruits they had or about the downright spectacular floral arrangements that looked like something out of a book on gardening.
In addition to this, you can buy greeting cards with Jesus or other biblical figures and flower crowns made, not from flowers, but from black plastic bags.
The cemetery’s grand entrance had large steps, with solid stone handrails, and the trees trimmed around it. Some of the tombs are ordinary, but others are built vertically with brick walls, somewhat similar to a honeycomb structure.
From what I see, today is cleaning day at the cemetery. They sweep and paint the tombs and they exchange the withered flowers with fresh ones. What is really strange to me, is that everyone is so cheerful! They laugh, they speak loudly and children are running everywhere. It’s a reason for the whole family to gather and everyone’s happy about it.
After they finish up at the cemetery, the families stop by the dozens of food stalls that are lined up on both sides of the road leading to the entrance. Some people open up their yards and put up a few tables there to make some extra money. They sell fried fish, little salty snails or piglets fried whole.
To drink, they have a special drink for this occasion which is called Colada Morada. It is great!
We sat in one of the yards, paid one dollar, and got ourselves two large glasses of the tasty drink. It is dark red and fruity. And very hot.
We’ve seen the locals eat bread with it. This eluded Tudor’s reasoning: they don’t eat food with bread, but they drink juice with bread.
It seems to me that Ecuadorians eat on the go. They don’t enjoy sitting down to eat, which makes it quite difficult to eat fish, for example.