The fiesta experience is almost ineffable - it's a concoction of noise; the childlike, alien nasal song of Indian women; the bang of the bass drum and the brass blast; head-spinning intoxication; insurgent-grade rockets exploding just above head height, tripping over the groaning drunk; getting trampled by a horse; molested by a street dog; more booze; not more booze; then more booze; a cross-dressing man, blacked-up and wielding a screaming baby chases you with his broom; you crash into a drunk Indian man; you spend five minutes trying to explain what England is, he looks confused and gives you more booze; bulls, bulls, and more booze.
I was at the Fiesta de Pesillo, just north of Cayambe. It follows the typical mold of Ecuadorian fiestas, booze, bands, costumes and fireworks... but Pesillo has bulls.
Toros de Pueblo is a simple idea. Lock an angry bull inside a ring in the middle of town and wind it up until somebody gets a good goring. It's astonishing how sobering a horn in the trasero can be.
All of the town's heroes and hard-men stepped into the ring to prove the size of their huevos, with predictably hilarious consequences. Drunk these men were, matadors they were not.
Even the kids get involved - this eight-year-old boy got caught out by the bull's sudden turn of pace and got royally clobbered. Amazingly there were no tears. He got a firm shake, a dust down and was back in the ring for more.
I love the toros de pueblo - perhaps a surprising stance for a vegetarian. Sure, it's a blood sport, but the blood is all human not animal.
I was a little drunk and desperate to join in the fun but a firm hand clasped around my elbow prevented me from hurdling the barrier. 'It looks easy,' I reasoned. 'I could outrun that old bull'. Lucy wisely decided to beat a retreat while she still had control, quoting Withnail and I: "A coward you are Tom, an expert on bulls you are not." Also the bamboo stand we were sharing with 500 other people was starting to creak under the strain.
|The processional pineapple and the snow-capped volcano of Cayambe|
We picked up the trail just north of town with the remnants of an all-night fiesta. Five men and women were swigging beer and dancing and singing. They pointed us in the direction of Pesillo and promised us bulls.
It must have been a bit like finding a rave back in the 90s, just march to the sound of the cannons.
On the way to Pesillo we passed this incredible rainbow over the town.
|Rainbow over town, looks like a MAC job|