Ensemble in ECUADOR
Day 2 - 4: Puerto Rico
Isla de la Plata
Day 5: Middle of the Word
Day 6 - 11: Ibarra - Festival Paz y Cultura Para el
The Charm of Cotacachi
Day 12: Quito
Day 13 - 16: Baños adventure
Jungle at its purest!
Dance all night
Go jump off the bridge
06-21-2009 - Cotachaci
- The Charm of Cotacachi People
When I awoke on this typically
sunny day in Ecuador, I had no idea what was in store. I had absolutely no
idea that just twenty-four hours later, I would by lying in my hotel bed
with a full cast on my leg, feeling one of the worst pains of my life.
I’ll save the juicy details for later though, because other than the
unfortunate ending, this day was a very memorable one.
The day began as it does every day, with a delicious
breakfast served to us by the exceptionally kind Indo America dance group
from Ibarra, Ecuador. I quickly ate all of my eggs and tomatoes because I
knew we would have a long day ahead. The first part of the day was spent
on free time. Myself, and a few others spent the day enjoying the town.
Some time in the afternoon it was time to get dressed
into our costumes and head over to the theatre where we were to perform
our main concert. It was a great time to see what the other groups had to
offer, and we were not disappointed. My favorite group came from Columbia;
they were a group of 11-13 year old kids who could dance like no other.
For some reason, perhaps it is because of his charm, these young kids were
infatuated with my brother Peter. It was fun to watch the interaction
because my brother spoke as much Spanish and they spoke English: none.
Immediately after our performance was over, we were
informed that we must pack into the bus once again and make a trip to
Cotacachi, a small yet prosperous Ecuadorian village that is inhabited
only by Indigenous peoples. This town was exceptionally clean, with a
beautiful town square and very modern, yet classical looking buildings.
The Cotacachi people excel in the leather craftwork and globetrotters from
around the world travel there just to purchase the beautiful leather
clothing and accessories.
As we drove up to the Cotacachi museum where we were to
perform we were told that the audience had been awaiting our arrival for
nearly two hours. We felt terrible, and knew that it was our time to
shine. We made a pact that despite the difficult dancing conditions we
would dance our hearts out.
The room was a mini rectangular ballroom and seated
along every single wall were the Cotacachi people. You could tell on their
faces that they did not know what to expect. Never until this day had we
had such an impromptu performance. Every single dance had to be edited to
fit the small room, but we had fun with it. When I was dancing the
Krakowiak, I sang to each and every person as if they were the only one in
the room. We danced two dances, the Krakowiak and Rzeszow, and when we
finished the Mayor of Cotacachi, his wife, and a few others graced us with
the famous indigenous dance. The performers walked around in a circle
while the Mayor played a giant seashell. During the dance Angela was
pulled into the circle and within minutes most of us were dancing as well.
Our translator told us immediately after that this special dance can last
up to eight days, and it would be very disrespectful to walk away before
its ending. Another interesting bit about the dance is that all women who
partake in it are sure to get pregnant within a year. Lets hope not.
We were lucky to be in Ibarra and Cotacachi during the
days of one of their most important holidays that they celebrate for eight
days. After our performance we walked throughout the museum to learn more
about the culture of this town. A gentleman from the audience approached
us and explained as well as he could, that what he saw was unlike anything
he had ever seen. He loved our singing, our dancing, and he loved us.
Within minutes of the conversation we were all laughing and engaging in a
good old group hug. We were all invited to a celebration out on the river
that is not like the celebrations we are used to. All attendants must
strip from their clothing and jump into the river nude. While some of our
liberal dancers thought “When in Rome,” others exclaimed “Absolutely
Not!” Pani Ania decided for us and eventually we did not go.
One of the most astonishing aspects of this culture is
seen in the hands of its people. Their rugged hands expose just how hard
working they all are. I am so very honored to have had a chance to see and
study the culture of the Cotacachi people and I hope that one day I will
have that chance.
Now, before I forget I must explain why the next day
after the visit to Cotacachi, I was stuck in bed with a full cast on my
left leg. At night, after the performances and after supper, we had a
small mixer with the Ecuadorian dance group where we could mingle and
learn several Ecuadorian dances. I was not feeling well and decided to sit
out most of the night, but as easy it is to feed me, it is equally easy to
get me onto the dance floor. I ended up dancing Salsa with our kind
translator Jaime. Here I am having the time of my life when in the blink
of an eye I am on the floor and my knee is dislocated. It was honestly one
of the worst pains I have ever felt, and I hope I never feel it again. I
screamed and cried until my mom, Jaclyn, and the paramedics arrived. Those
were the only people I needed to calm my nerves. I ended up in the
Metropolitan hospital with a very good-looking doctor from Brazil, who
took excellent care of me. The entire experience is hazy due to the
unbearable pain I was feeling, but two hours later, and 5 seconds of what
felt like 50 angry invisible fairies stabbing me in the knee, I was on my
way back to the hotel. The rest of my trip was sure to be an experiment
because my leg was stiff and every activity would surely be an obstacle.