December 24, 2010

Pase del Nino Viajero

This tradicion Cuencana has its origins in 1823, when Dona Josefa Heredia commissioned the statue of the baby Jesus. In 1961 Monsignor Miguel Cordero Crespo decided to visit the most important Christian holy sites around the world and to take the statue with him. He had it blessed by Pope John XXIII before returning to Cuenca, at which point the statue was named el Nino Viajero (the Traveling Child). And so this amazing parade, which honors all children, was born.

It was the most engaging event I've witnessed so far in Cuenca--truly rich, culturally and aesthetically. It brought out the most playful aspects of Cuencano culture and I was so happy to finally have the opportunity to see it this year. I joined some friends early on at the staging area of the parade, before it actually started moving. This allowed us to see details that we might otherwise have missed because once the parade got going the crowds became much denser and it became more difficult to take pictures.

I took so many pictures I should probably post them in two sections but I can't wait! So I've organized them into themes to reduce visual clutter. First, the floats, with their elaborate yet extremely low-tech decorations.

Offerings ranged from all kinds of produce

to children toys

to adult toys

to the ever popular Barbie for girls or perhaps, as one friend pointed out, what some men might also want for Christmas, just the human version!

Then the cooked food portion of the offerings. Not surprisingly, the standard celebratory roast pig, adorned with red peppers and tomatoes for a touch of seasonal color,

followed by a roast chicken with its cheerful red comb and flanked by cuy, all resting on a bed of potatoes (with rose petals strewn around it!),

and heart-shaped loaves of bread.

Lots of animals, including the horses the senoritas rode on

and the mounted police, bearing flags and looking quite dignified.

Then the farm animals with their very own offerings. This sheep carries a roast chicken and lots of peppers (notice the $5 bill wrapped around the chicken's neck)

and the goat and llama offer plenty of toys.

(This llama was very friendly and seemed to really want me to take its picture!)

Lots of home made animals on the floats, some were hilariously "naive" but you had to be there, I couldn't capture the charm in pictures

but I think these were quite well done.

Some women were carrying alternate children, like this doll

or this dog, who actually seemed quite comfortable and happy in its sling.

And finally, the children themselves.

All of whom looked quite spiffy

and downright beautiful.

Best parade ever!


Nancy Watson said...

This is the best post I have ever seen about the parade. Thank you for the information about Nino Viajero (the Traveling Child). Now I really get it. Have a wonderful Christmas my friend.

looloo said...

Thanks, Nancy! Can't wait for New Year's--it sounds like there'll be lots to see that night. Best wishes for the new year to you and Chuck! said...

It is amazing that I took several hundred pictures and I don't think I have any of the same ones you do. Your photos are great! Thanks for the explanation because I had forgotten the details.