Inty Raimy is the name of the festivals we´ve been going to. It goes on for about 8 Saturdays in a row. and we´ve been able to catch the last few. During the festival groups of dancers, muscians and singers walk in a procession down the street, usually followed by a big truck with massive stacks of speakers blasting either recorded music or amplifying a live band in the back. Every block or so the group will stop and dance in a circle, switching directions every once in a while. Chickens seem to be a big part of the celebration. They tie ribbons in their feathers, bind their legs and dance around with them and sometimes tossing them in the air. What I learned about the chicken thing is that it has to do with abundance and wealth, if you bring 2 chickens to the festival, next year you have to bring 12. (I´m assuming it´s for the feast, cause I´m don´t see how you could dance with 12 chickens!) Not everyone has a chicken, but a lot do. Drinking is also a big part, sharing bottles of Pilsener and passing cups of apple or peach wine around. they make a drink from corn that is fermented called chicha, people pass this around too. When the group is walking the musicians are either in the front or the behind the dancers, and when they stop to dance they move into the center with either 1 or 2 rings of dancers moving around them. This last Saturday we went again to Inty Raimy, but this time in a town named Caja. This time each group had a fretility effigy that was held in the middle, a tall pole and at the top was a lashed together pyramid of bamboo. From it was hung frutas y pan, somtimes bottles of wine or alcohol. The women wear their ususal ropa, sometimes a little more colorful with extra ribbons or a different shape white felt hat. The men however wear a white button down shirt, a fringed shawl around their waist and goatskin chaps, sometimes with bells on them. There are a good number of women who wear this instead of the traditional skirt and blouse. There is usually a leader of each group, this guy wears a mask representing the face of the devil, or la cara de diablo, he will sometimes have a whip or a long switch. He uses these for theatrics and is pretty lively keeping his dancers engaged. These groups will dace until 5, or 6 in the morning!
Elias and Victoria had lots of friends and familia there, and I think there were looking for someone to take me into the dance circle, because they kept asking how I liked the dancing....it was so intoxicating how could you not!?! Rosita, Elias´ sister was there and so for my third time at the inty raimy festival I finally got to dance! I felt so excited and honored I was crying and laughing at the same time. We were 3 of 6 gringos amoung 100´s of Kitchwa. And I was definitely the only gringa dancing - that´s for sure. We were in the plaza of Caja, the final place of the dancing groups. They process through the streets and some down the panamerican highway until they get to the plaza, then they take turns dancing in front of the main stage.
As the night wore on we were all dancing - to the delight of many it seemed, as lots of people wanted to meet us and talk to us after that. We were invited to dance in other groups, but mostly we were dancing with those that we knew...even Elias and Victoria were dancing!