Carnaval in Coangue 2012
February 20th and 21st
To get yourself and every living object in site as dirty as possible, using water (from the river), paint, flour, eggs, and only in desperate cases use mud.
Plan to catch a bus at 9 a.m.
Wait in line for an hour and a half, and then give up your spot to catch a bus outside the terminal (better chances to get on a bus or a school bus for a dollar).
Arrive to Coangue at noon and head straight to the river. You will be targeted, because you’re clean and dry.
Buy a bucket. This will be your weapon; if you plan ahead you can bring a water gun or something that shots water for long distances.
You’re probably soaking by now, but just head straight to the river. Once there, pick a water fight while you’re inside the river.
Stop, watch a kid doing Ecuadorian river rafting (he or she will be only in underwear on a big black tire), and then be jealous.
Continue the wetting of people you don’t know. If you spot someone you recognize, gather a random group of people to form a water mob attack or pick them up and dump them in a mud puddle.
When you become tired or cold, head to the gated stage where you can enjoy great music of all genres and watch dance performances. Be careful because people will be walking around with canned foam, paint, flour, and other materials used for covering (usually) your face and hair. Pretty people, foreigners, clean people, and anyone who brings attention to themselves will be targeted.
You can also join in on the fun. Many people will be selling all of these materials around you.
Are you hungry? If yes, go buy cheap food at ANY food stand. This may be hard, because there are probably over a hundred food stands selling typical Ecuadorian food at cheap prices. If you answered no, eat anyways because if you’ve been living in Ecuador for a while, so you begin to feel the need to have carbs in your stomach at all hours of the day. I suggest eating salchipapas (fries with fried hot dog) as a small snack.
When you’re done eating, go back into the mob of people and dance in a circle then go in the middle and make a fool of yourself by doing weird dance moves. I suggest the sprinkler, the watering can, or, my favorite, the move where you put one hand on your head and the other grabs your foot and you try to kick at the same time. Everyone will laugh, but that just means you need to keep dancing.
When the sun starts to set, you’ll probably be freezing, because you’re still wet. You can either head home or go eat again. If you decide to go home, attempt to catch a bus on the Panamerican Highway a.k.a. La Pana. If you are going to Ibarra, there will be multiple low-key school buses taking massive loads of people for a dollar.
Once you arrive home, shower for half an hour and attempt to clean your body. If you have an electric shower this should be no problem, but most likely you won’t. If you have the luxury of a bucket shower, hopefully you’ll be able to heat up water and if not, I am sincerely sorry.
All cleaned up? Drink a hot cup of coffee or tea and eat bread then go straight to bed. Tomorrow you’ll have to do everything all over again the next day.
After I successfully accomplished this assignment, I became sick with the flu for about 3 days. Once I got a little better, I realized I had a throat infection. I still recommend following this plan, because it was so much fun. Another fellow had swollen eyes after the first day, but still returned the next day. I suggest wearing light clothing that you don’t care if they get stained forever. Usually the weather in Coangue is warm, but I suggest bringing a sweater and put it in a waterproof bag along with your other belongings (cell phone, camera, money etc.). For next year fellows, I suggest going with your host family, and if they do not want to, invite some friends. Anything done in big groups is usually more fun. You can also make new friends in Coangue, after all there were around 8,000 people this year.