It was noisy and it was slimy last night in Parque Calderon as two to three thousand Cuencanos, tourists and expats gathered for the kick-off of Carnival.
The crowd was treated to fireworks, music, dances and foam fights. Four pyrotechnic castles were ignited, spending rockets into the sky and sparks into the crowd. Vendors sold aerosol cans of foam that many in the crowd used to slime anyone who came near. Police officers patrolling the scene were a favorite target for the slimers.
Gladys Eljuri, director of the Cuenca Tourism Foundation, said the intention of the evening was to bring friends and strangers together and to tell the story of indigenous Taita Carnival tradition, which is native to Cañar and Azuay Provinces. “This is a great event and everyone seems to be having fun,” she said.
Eljuri saluted the Vanegas family, who has made it their life’s work to promote the Taita tradition and helped put together the evening’s entertainment. The family distributred brochures Thursday night telling the history of Taita.
Foreingn tourists and expats joined in the foam fights and dancing, many saying they are ready for more. Scott Garnett, a visitor from Texas, covered with foam from his engagement with nearby teenagers, stood on the side of Calle Simon Bolivar to watch the fireworks. “This is fabuous. I’m heading to some of the little towns over the weekend to get more of it.” He added: “And it’s hard to beat the sweet smell of gun powder wafting on the evening breeze.”
Photo caption: Carnival party goers in Parque Calderon Thursday night; Photo credit: El Tiempo