In the middle of independence celebrations is another very important day for Ecuadorians, All Saint’s Day also known as the Day of the Dead.
A combination between indigenous beliefs and Catholicism, on this day Ecuadorians go to the cemetery to clean the graves and pay their respects.
There was no possibility of getting lost on the way to the largest cemetery in Cuenca as the roads were closed for the masses walking to the cemetery.
Along the way the streets were lined people selling flowers and candles. Inside hundreds of people were gathered burning candles and placing fresh flowers on the graves.
In some rural areas this day becomes a big party with people eating and drinking all day but in Cuenca it was a really somber event.
There are times when I feel slightly icky about taking photos and treating people like a tourist attraction.
After snapping one or two I listened to my gut and put the camera away.
On the brighter side as with most events, food plays a central role in the celebration:
Colada morada is an Ecuadorian drink is prepared with black corn flour and fruit and served warm.
To some people the purple/red drink symbolizes blood, which in turn symbolizes life of the ones how have moved on from this existence.
Guaguas de pan, a sweet bread that oddly is meant to look like a small child.
It is a tradition based on the indigenous culture that believed in an afterlife for the dead.
And it was more of a continuation of life and that the dead would need nourishment for their travels onto the next world.
Today it is served throughout the city and inside the cemetery.
Both were delicious and a highlight of the day.
I had hopes of sharing the colada morada recipe but it was 4 pages long with Ecuadorian fruit you can’t find outside South America.
So if you’re keen to try it both will be available in Ecuador again for November 2nd celebrations next year.