I was standing in the middle of the street, camera in hand with fellow onlookers crushing me from all sides. The cheesy dramatic music which blared from the sound system on the truck a few feet behind me was interrupted by my cell phone ringing. I got a few dirty looks while I frantically searched for the button to send the call on to voice mail. Then it rang again. At that point I answered and said a few words that I never expected to come out of my mouth: “I’ll call you back in a minute honey. I’ve got to go, they’re flogging Jesus!”
It was Good Friday in Cotacachi and the town was getting set to kick off their annual religious procession. First up though was a recreation of the trial of Jesus and his condemnation. Once that was through, representatives from the various communities around Cotacachi marched through the streets playing flute music, singing, and carrying huge religious monuments.
Semana Santa, as Holy Week is known in Ecuador, is one of the most important religious celebrations in the country. It is especially popular in Cotacachi and brings hundreds of visitors to town. Good Friday is dominated by religious somberness, but Saturday is a different matter. That’s the day that the town’s annual Leather Expo reaches its peak and vendors line the streets with food stalls, and merchandise from around the nation.
A leather fashion show takes place where models strut their stuff while displaying the products of Cotacachi’s many leather merchants. Bands entertain the crowds and the beer flows freely. Of course Sunday will be all about religion again as most of the town will gather in the two Catholic churches for Easter Mass.
It’s never a dull moment here in Ecuador and though I don’t always feel inclined to participate in the various customs, I do love to watch them!