Sunday, August 7, 2011

Triumphant Disaster

My days off were a triumphant disaster.  Stunning rides through nowhere Quichua valleys of dirt descents.  Days later, popping out into civilization, I made it to Machachi’s Chagra Festival.  I rolled into a parade of dancing horses carrying their drunken, poncho, fuzzy chap clad riders through the masses of people that turn up for this annual event. Within an hour I was best friends with an family of Ecuadorians passing the beer cup around and around as we worked our way through cases of beers, literally one cup at a time, like a drunken mate session. 

Working my way through a dancing crowd, from under my leather jacket, sweater, and scarf, my camera was silently taken from my front jeans pocket.  Within a split second, all my memories from my meanderings in South America were gone, stolen with a cold heart and a slippery hand.  With great skill, this thief violated my soul and has left me feeling naked and misunderstood as I roam this country in the depths of its green valleys, tricky languages, and mixed cultures.  Without my little friend who translates my weak words into colourful reality, I ran my butt off in attempts to keep living, from the bulls that is…

Dust clouds swirled, kicked up by the charging chagras chasing angered bulls with their long lassos twirling .  The bulls scraped their hooves and snorted their discontent through bloody noses; and with every right, attacked their provokers that hurled plastic bottles, insults and taunts at this trapped and surrounded beast.  They charged at almost all moving things and I flung myself onto the janky walls of the corral stadium that is held together by brittle strings, two levels of packed seating just waiting to collapse.  Reflecting, in a moment of early morning solitude, I crawled up into the top stands and watched the ghost of leftover energy swirl the trash around.  This windy ghost swayed the empty structure as if it were made of toothpicks.  Snapping back into reality, I jump to the wall to dodge a charge that plows inches from my raised feet, for now the game is the bulls against the deranged crowd and their matador capes, shirts, or whatever else they have to taunt the bulls into giving chase.  In attempts to devour the drunken fools getting too close, some bulls had their revenge as they bucked, stomped, and trampled those lacking the quick escape. 

All these moments are the things I so wish I could capture and give.  So many moments lost of chagra raised cust clouds, drunks stooped in the bulls’ ring, the myriads of people dangling from shadey bi-levelled stick stadiums, the dirt and cobbled roads of the Quilatoa Loop, the tiny villages, the natives pushing the blood out of a throat cut cow, the paintings on the walls, the herds of llamas in the tall waving grassy highland plains, the lake-filled volcano, the hike into the sandy canyon bottom, the sheep scurrying down the road, the moment of me surrounded by new friends in a perfect picture captured, and the twisting roads that wind and drop off through mountains and valleys that bring adventure and mystery to all those filled with the spirit of…

(I am borrowing a camera for now, so only a large handful of epic pictures are lost forever.)