05 Dec Mama Negra Festival – Latacunga, Ecuador
Mama Negra festival is celebrated in Latacunga beginning of November every year. The tradition is inspired by Spanish, Incan ,African and Mayan traditions. Latacunga was colonized by the Spanish, because of mineral resources. The natives were forced to convert to Catholicism. The Spanish brought slaves from different areas such as Africa and other Countries in Latin America.
Those slaves brought their own traditions to Latacunga. It is not completely known how The Mama Negra Festival started, however, it is being said it started after the eruption of the Volcano Cotopaxi in 1742. The locals of the region begged Virgin of Mercy to save Latacunga and the festival started with honoring Virgin of Mercy.
Black slaves started working in the mines after the eruption and made a huge difference to the locals. All these events arose the Mama Negra Festival.
All these events arose the Mama Negra Festival.
Mama Negra festival is a long parade with a lot of people wearing many different colors, dancing and playing on different instruments. You will see it all! Mama Negra comes at the very end, after many hours, riding on a white horse, black-painted face and squirting out water. Mama Negra is always a man that is elected every year and is an important person in the local community.
My experience with the Mama Negra Festival was quite surprising. I didn’t read or see any photos of the festival before I went. After being asked to join the “drag queens” to dance two times, my boyfriend told me that It is important for them to include the internationals during this festival. I also didn’t see many internationals among the big crowd. I also got stopped probably ten times by the Guacos which are the cleansers. They are dressed in white. There are at least three of them dancing around you, hitting you a little with a stick, saying a specific rhyme and spit alcohol at you at the end. I saw many different kinds of Guacos, one of them even cleansed you with a guinea pig.
It was a very unique experience after all and I saw everything! I mean, people can come up to you, kiss you, make you drink alcohol that hundreds of other people have drunken of and you will be asked to join the dance. If you are one of the shy ones. You should sit back the fences, but then half of the fun is gone!
If you are in Ecuador end of October to beginning November you should definitely check out that festival! Be aware that you will be sitting there many many hours. Don’t forget to bring lots of water, wear sunscreen and a sun hat and sunglasses is a must!
More time in Ecuador? Visit Surrounding areas see the top 10 list here: