The streets of Quito, Guayaquil and Cuenca were crowded with the Christian faithful on Good Friday, recreating Christ’s walk to Calvary, attending prayer vigils and participating in other Catholic rituals.
In Guayaquil, an estimated 500,000 walked with a dozen cross-bearing Christs, Roman soldiers, Pontius Pilate, Jewish clerics, penitents, and priests, while another 300,000 marched in Quito.
The Quito Good Friday parade is notable for the march of the cucuruchos, penitents dressed in purple and blue robes with conical hoods. To many North Americans, the costumes bear a striking resemblance to the white robes and hoods of the Ku Klux Klan in the U.S. but they are, in fact, based on those worn by Europeans for hundreds of years during Easter ceremonies.
In Cuenca, the faithful participated in parades in the historic district and in Turi. After dark, there were stations of the cross set up in several locations, including the historic district. Loudspeakers broadcast prayers late into the night.
Just as North Americans are struck by the cucurucho costumes, almost all foreigners are taken aback by the whip lashes applied by Roman soldiers in the walk to Calvary. Many of the Christ figures ask to whipped as an act of penitence, and some shed impressive amounts of blood.
Blood-letting during Good Friday events has been banned in some Latin American countries but remains legal in Ecuador.