Short Stories
Entry No. 44 February 8, 2005

The Awakening

Ecuador proved beautiful as Susie and I passed into the country and continued rising in altitude at the end of January. We figured it was going to be just as beautiful and nice as Colombia but with snow capped volcanoes added into the scenery. As we rode into the interior of the Andes with smiles, they quickly faded when Susie was drenched with a bucket of water from a passing truck. As we were pretty high in mountains and the mornings and late afternoons tended to be a bit chilly, we didn't like this.

We couldn't figure out what was going on. It happened a few more times, but with water guns or balloons. How rude. Did they hate cyclists? This country sucks. I started practicing reading license plate numbers so I could report the next one to the police if necessary. Of course, I would get distracted from reading and memorizing every license plate and soon after, another splash would come along and the license plate was way out of eyesight by the time I thought to look. Susie's yelps then curses from behind became more and more frequent as we headed closer to Quito. They seemed to get Susie more than me on average. One cold and wet day, Susie even admitted that she cursed more than she greeted people that day.

What we didn't realize was that this was the beginning of Carnaval and the game was water fights. And not just water pistols and balloons, oh no. We saw everything from homemade water pumps to Super Soakers, to just truck loads of people with a barrel of water each with a bucket. Susie and I didn't like the game at all and thought that we should be exempt. We became more sour with each dumping. When they missed us, we would yell, "ha ha your aim stinks try again" and hoped that the next truck would miss us too.

The story changed drastically when we met up with Will and Orian, two Wisconsin cyclists that I had met back in Baja California. Orian's sister, Ariel, is doing an exchange program just south of Quito in a city called Ambato and we all met up at her host family's house and continued on from there. Will and Orian opened our eyes to the fun of it. Before long, we had extra water bottles at the ready and crossed the line and purchased balloons and filled them with water.

By the end of the day of this awakening, I was laughing and screaming at getting drenched and even got one guy right smack in the forehead of an on coming pick up truck. It was great. This lasted for several days as Carnaval lasts about a month, but the water fights get pretty intense only towards the end.

We were in Southern Ecuador stopped in a town called Naranjal for a bike repair and I got into a water war with some kids when I went to look for a different bike shop a few streets from where we were. Needless to say, I walked into that war zone unprepared and came back, completely soaked and without tubes. Being a Gringa that day was tough.

After four days of new attitude, I was having fun, but it was getting a bit old. I was kind of relieved that the end of Carnaval was near as February 2 was the last day and drenching would then be prohibited until next year. I was looking forward to that. As we crossed the border into Peru, my shoulders sank when we heard Peru's celebration of Carnaval lasted until February 20th and their celebration was uncannily similar to Ecuador's.

Here we go again...

Previous Next
Site Map | Contact Us