Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Tear Gas at 50 feet

One of the great things to do in South America is get attacked with Tear gas by the local Polizia.
It´s actually great fun if a little bit painful for the eyes and lungs. We had the experience at Cotocatchi, a small village just north of Otavalo. Our family decided it would be a good idea to visit the local fiesta of Inti Raymi, a celebration of the Summer solstice. Basically the indigenous communities save up their cash all year for their version of new Years Eve, albeit with a slightly different twist. Here groups of men dress up in cowboy pants and silly hats, dancing in circles and geeing themselves up by whistling to each other.
Once they are drunk enough and have the
courage they head over to the other groups,
zombi like and attempt to punch the crap
out of them, usually with quite large sticks.
Meanwhile police with tear gas try and keep
the groups apart. All this is usually done with
a crowd of onlookers. Very strange entertainment indeed especially as every year there are a number of deaths reported.
We happenned to mistime our arrival
during one of the tear gas attacks and
it felt more like a revolution was happenning
than anything else. But there is hope during
a tear gas attack. We were surprised to see
everyone immediately lighting up cigarettes,
which apparrently helps clear the lungs.
If only the cigarette manufacturers knew....

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