Cuenca means the children rules

Saturday, December 24, 2011
Cuenca, Ecuador
Another relocate day.

This time Banos to Cuenca via Riobamba. In the rain we left Banos by taxis for the bus station. Onto a bus and 90 minutes later we were in Riobamba where the sun was shining. A quick change to another bus and then having just driven outside the terminal a 30 minute wait. Don’t know what went on but something to do with the bus driver and his licence. The police were involved and we sat in the bus waiting to leave which we eventually did.

After numerous stops to let people on and off, we got to Cuenca at 3.30 pm.

We had a slight difficulty in securing enough taxis to take us from the bus station into the old town where our hostal was as the religious procession was still on and taxis drivers were not interested in our fare. Soon it was arranged and they got us as close as they could. We still had to walk several blocks to the Posada del Angel hostal.

Quickly checked in and I was out to see the tail end of the parade of the Pase del Niño Viajero, (child traveller). This is considered to be the largest and best Christmas pageants in all of Ecuador. Children form a large part in the festivities honouring the travelling Infant Jesus.

The origins of this religious festival is in the early 1960’s when a statue of the Christ Child was taken to Rome to be blessed by the Pope. When the statue returned, someone in the watching crowd called out, “Ya llegó el Viajero!" and the statue became known as the Niño Viajero.

Today, Christmas festivities begin earlier in the month with November, masses and events recalling the journey of Mary and Joseph to Bethlehem. The highpoint of the celebrations is the festival of the travelling Infant Child, the Pase del Nino Viajero on 24 December. It’s an all day affair starting at 9 am with a parade that illustrates the journey of Joseph and Mary. Led by the guiding star, and accompanied by angels, the Three Kings, officials, shepherds and huge numbers of costumed children, In the park, a representation of Herod’s edict, calling for the deaths of male children, takes place.

The Niño is then taken to the Catedral de la Inmaculada for religious services honouring the birth of Christ.

The photos will tell the rest of the story and what I experienced in late the afternoon.

Because the parade was slow moving, I would often take a photo of the children and then show them their image on the back of the camera and they smiled.

Been so tall relative to the locals, I had a grandstand view standing by the church entrance as the statue was carried into the church and finally placed up high above the altar.

Lesson is I was so quickly out to join the parade that I didn't bother to take a spare battery or memory card with me. Lucky I didn't need either but at the end my battery was getting very low indeed!

Dinner at El Cantaro and I had Plato Tipico which is a typical Cuencan dish: broad beans, sausage, pork, egg, corn, avocado, cucumber, tomato, potato and cheese US$7.80. The Pilsener at US$1.50 rounded off my dinner bill.

After dinner I wandered the streets (it felt very safe) and went into some of the churches where a Christmas Eve mass was on. While Silent Night was sung in Spanish I sung along in English. Again the way that all the churches in this part of the old town were lit up will be a lasting memory.

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