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Otavalo and our alternative Glastonbury

The prospect of no glastonbury this year hadn't filled us with dread at the beginning of the year. The fact was, we were going to be on a trip around the World and well that doesn't happen every year now does it.

But we missed it. Boy did we miss it. Glastonbury has become, as it does for so many, a highlight of our year.

Ok so the feeling didn't last long, the heat, landscapes and cold cerveza was a good remedy but it had been difficult; receiving that text from the boys, avoiding the BBC website ('just a little look') and denying Beyonce's existence was the order of the day.

We were in South America. We had ourselves an alternative Glasto.

We were staying in Otavalo. What a town. Surrounded by volcanoes, layed back, friendly. It was a joy to spend a couple of days there. Especially when we found out that there was an indigenious festival taking place in the next town. We leapt into the first cab we could find and headed for some Glastonbury replacement therapy, Ecuadorian style.

View from our Hostel in Otavalo

We had arrived at Inti Raymi, the Festival of the Sun.

This "party of the sun and harvest" is a tradition that celebrates the end of a stage of the Andean agricultural cycle. It 'allows for the spiritual purification of the human being, the recuperation of energy and revitalization of the relationship with Mother Nature'.

See, the Glastonbury of the Andes.

Things kicking off at the Pyramid stage

The whole town seemed to be dancing in circles. This was my kind of dancing. The two step shuffle, I mastered that badboy back at St Mary's school disco

Those who weren't playing instruments were carrying food, some lugged huge steel cauldrons with them as they stomped the ground. Several men bore a wooden pole on their shoulders, live chickens suspended from it.

The dancers go around in circles, representing the two solstices and two equinoxes that take place during the year. The dancers stamp their feet while they circle around, as a way to invite Mother Earth to participate in the party, so that it recuperates its vital energies and is ready to begin the new agricultural cycle where the maize and other crops will be cultivated again. []

It was all very uplifting. Smiles everywhere and the music infectious. Before long we too were shuffling our feet more and more, getting laughed at for good measure.

Now I'm not sure what the sun god thought of his food offerings but I was pretty darn pleased with what was placed in front of me that day.

Pukka pie at the John peel tent

I tell you what, the threads at this festival beat Glasto hands down. The indigenous Ecuadorian clothing, the hats in particular are just so damn cool, the ladies beautiful in their dresses.

Lady Gaga's headline set

Lots of incredible music, stomping around worshiping something on high.

Maybe we're not quite as far from Glastonbury as we first thought.



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