Latacunga is our last adventure in Ecuador, although we plan to stop just one more night in Quito before heading to the Colombian border.

For 364 days a year this town should be firmly off any traveller’s plans. Arriving from Banos, we pass through a grey, concrete suburbia. It’s not pretty, although towering volcanoes help distract, with many stopping off here for trips to the largest, Cotopaxi. We are here for one of the biggest and most bizarre festivals in Ecuador, Mama Negra.

Our depressive hostel owners told us there’s not much in town, not really any bars or restaurants and we would probably not get to see any of the festival as it’s so busy and a little dangerous.  Rubbish, we got there early (9am), found a great spot, bought some plastic chairs, some silly hats and awaited the mayhem.

The Mama Negra festival is a strange mix of Spanish-brought Catholic religion, local native belief in ‘spirits’ and a good old excuse for a knees up.  The festival is traditionally led by a religious effigy of the ‘Virgin de las Mercedes’ who it is said saved the city from the numerous eruptions of local volcano Cotopaxi. As with many religious More >