Inti Raymi is the celebration of the summer solstice. This event is celebrated just about everywhere in South America. Being in Ecuador at the moment I chose to observe this event in Cotacachi, the same place where we went for the Easter celebration. This event in Cotacachi might be the weirdest of all celebrations in Ecuador. It’s called ‘Toma de la Plaza’ aka ‘Taking of the Plaza’. It’s mainly a men’s event although I have seen few women also joining in, which apparently is a fairly new thing. Different communities of Cotacachi are being assigned different times to enter the plaza, to dance around it and leave the plaza to make room for other communities. The groups arrive from different directions, basically running into the plaza and dancing in swirling circles in the four corners of the square. The dancing itself is mostly stomping and chanting, yelling, whistling while the rhythm is set by monotone music played on bamboo flute, harmonica. Interestingly, no drums but the feet stomping was pretty loud.

In this post all the photos were taken with ultra-wide angle zoom lens (Zeiss 16-35mm), getting close, sometimes extremely close to the action. Being this close you need to watch it so no dancer knocks the camera out from your hands. The majority of the men were well ‘under the influence’. Police participation was quite high as ‘ritual fights’ are not rare at this event and few years back it went a bit too far the fight. This time there were only two run-ins between groups I personally noticed and they were stopped quite fast by the authorities, by getting between them with clear protective shields. The police although they were fully equipped riot units looked pretty chill and they were basically directing the flow of the event without much fuss.

As Cotacachi is a popular expat spot and the event is well known, there was no shortage of ‘gringo’ participants in contrast with last weeks Corpus Cristi in Pujili.