We new that Sunday was the best day to catch the huge market in Saraguro and arrived on Friday to have a day to explore the town
. By the time we taxied to the community run Achik Wasi hostel and were taking in the hillside view the first of the fireworks went off indicating the start of a ten day festival commemorating the relocation and new life for the locals. This part does not show up in the research but is now an opportunity of a lifetime. A parade with floats and dancers from various groups did there thing eventually ending up in a line in front of the grand stage. One by one they took turns doing their interpretations of their relocation, cleansing their souls and sacrificing the lamb to the delight of the hundreds that had gathered. Most of them it seemed had climbed onto the balcony where I was perched for the better view....It was a perfect time to see such a display of dress and performance. We were both still a little in disbelief at our luck to see this event first hand.
Another gem that we stumbled across was a concert being held in a small community twenty minutes outside of Saraguro. We arrived early and watched as the locals set up food stands in the parking lot listening to the bands sound check. There were three bands playing this evening starting with a young Ecuadorian group playing traditional music, This was followed by a band extending traditional sounds into a more modern electric mix. It was getting late and we were thinking of heading back before five or six hundred locals would do the same but decided to stay
. What we experienced was nothing short of incredible as the "band" as it turns out is Ecuadors most famous "rock" band who now live in Japan and return once a year to play a single concert somewhere in Ecuador. Picture a cross between Jethro Tull, Eagles and Little Feat with unique South American roots. The crowd of mostly teenagers in their traditional dress would get into small groups, plunk a crate of Pilsners in the middle of them on the dance floor and place a hand on each others shoulders bopping to the tunes walking in a circle. To much fun.
There is a new tapas restaurant in Saraguro ( Shamu & Co. Espani gastronomique ) this quaint little place we ate at several times is run by a brother & sister team and his partner. It turns out after a few days of beers and tapas and getting to know them they had all done a training stint at El Buli in Spain. El Buli was named the best restaurant in the world during its time. Their training showed in their work and product as the professional kitchen crew and service staff were well organized, efficient and the obvious teamwork was excellent. This crew were now back in their little home town of Saraguro living their dream, how cool is that.
Sometimes you arrive at the station just as the bus is leaving and occasionally you arrive at a place where the timing couldn't be better. The only "schedules" are posted at the station and all the review you can do about a destination never includes all the goings on about a place. Saraguro is a little town that came to be when the Saraguro people were forcibly relocated from Lake Titicaca in Bolivia through the Inca empire system of colonization many ions ago. They are now considered to be one of the most prosperous, determined, community minded indigenous groups in Ecuador. Their dress is unique to them and consists of men's single braided hair, black poncho, knee length black shorts and women wearing flat white felt hats that are black spotted underneath, intricate beaded necklaces and beautiful pendants.