Last year we were only in our home a few days when one evening we walked into town and discovered a huge festival beginning! We stayed and enjoyed our first San Clemente festival and learned about the Tres Reyes. We published our account of that festival at: https://johnandmarylivingitupinecuador.wordpress.com/2012/09/06/el-dia-de-los-reyes-festival-of-the-three-kings/. It was exciting to witness that great gathering in our new home and to see the simple joy of people enjoying life!
Now we are seasoned San Clemente residents, but we were still excited to be a part of another three kings celebration. According to the calendar we thought the festival should have been last weekend, but we learned that this year the date for the festival would be January 12th. While I was asking about the date for the festival I was surprised and honored to have Gato, one of the town leaders associated with our group, ask me if I would participate in this year’s festival and dress up as a king and distribute candy to the crowds of children (and adults it turned out) who show up for one of the largest festivals in San Clemente.
Once again, our friend, Nancy Levin, has beaten us to the punch in reporting the festival on her blog site, so I will refer you to her post at: http://nanlevin.wordpress.com/2013/01/13/three-kings-day-el-dia-de-los-reyes/ which includes a short video of a rotund gringo king throwing candy to the crowd.
We got downtown and found a large grandstand set up and a band practising for the dance to follow the proceedings.
The crowds started to arrive and I slipped into the back kitchen area at Pinoche’s house to make sure my costume fit.
It was a hot and humid night, so, after getting my instructions from Jacinto, I took the outfit off and headed to the edge of town to await the three kings on camels (paper mache) and the procession following a large lighted star. When we could hear the procession nearing, Jacinto helped me get ready.
They had four backpacks full of hard wrapped candy each weighing about 10 pounds and I strapped on the first pack and fell in behind the leading fire truck and just in front of the three magi.
My instructions were simple – try to throw candy to all of the hundreds of children and adults who lined the streets for six or seven blocks sometimes eight rows deep.
Mary did her best to stay ahead of the procession and get pictures, but was often pelted with candy and nearly trampled by the throngs of children scurrying for their lucky candy. Jacinto saw her plight and rescued her by allowing her to slip under the rope and escape the crowds,
After we got to the main downtown area and the candy finally ran out, I was able to slip under the border ropes and join the crowd watching the three kings race around entertaining the huge crowd of onlookers.
Once the kings were finished a group of clowns ( men dressed up like women) got down off the fire truck and proceeded to dance to some song where they did some kind of pony dance.
They then entertained the crowd with bawdy dancing and calling men from the onlookers and dancing with them. It was very funny to watch, but I decided to duck back further into the crowd!
Even after a year it is amazing to me to see how much fun a town can have celebrating together. We had a great time visiting with our friends and many ex-pats who came out to witness the festival.
At about 10:30, we made our exit and could hear the band playing as the town danced into the morning hours.
Life is good in Ecuador!