Inti Raymi is the celebration of the summer solstice. Sounds simple and it is. In Cotacachi it’s taken beyond that by men on the ‘Toma de la Plaza’ days. It morphed into a rebellious act against the conquistadors. The ‘zamarros’ aka ‘chaps’ worn at this celebrations are going back to the times when haciendas dominated the land. The ‘majordomos’ aka ‘hacienda stewards’ wore chaps and carried whips. These were the symbol of power over the indigenous people who worked as labourers at the haciendas. The chaps worn and the whips carried at the celebration are symbolically representing the ‘we have the power now’. Probably the sombreros and the oversized cardboard hats are in the same symbol category. Now let’s see the ‘toma de la plaza’ aka ‘taking the square’. The groups of men run in from different directions and dance in the four corners of the plaza. Another symbolic act: taking back the land was once theirs. According to the locals the main square in Cotacachi, dominated by a church these days on one side and the city hall on the other, once was a sacred place of worship where they buried their dead. Some men wore Zapatista uniforms and some ‘Ejercito’ army uniforms ¬†and a Mexican flag was flying above their head. Again a symbol, the civil resistance and wearing the uniform of the power, just like the chaps. Now I understand when an expat told me another day ‘you need to be careful where you buy land in Cotacachi as an expat’. It’s strange how this village has became an expat hot-spot with this strong antipathy against the conquistadors among the indigenous people of the area. Things fell in place in my head finally. One of the most important indigenous celebrations has became also a revolt against the conquistadors. I couldn’t understand what they were chanting, but I can use my imagination. Now I understand the presence of the riot police. History lesson learned on the road. Wow.