Sunday, May 10, 2009
Supposedly, this is a Mother's Day tradition, but if
I were an Ecuadoran mother, would I want my drunk
son and a bunch of his drunk friends hanging out
outside my house at all hours of the night?
"Mother's Day in Ecuador is an event unique in many ways.
While some families give gifts and have gatherings and feasts
on the special Sunday, the most wished for act of love is a
Mother's Day serenade. On Saturday everyone prepares for
the next day: they go to the market to buy ingredients, go to
the mall for last minute gifts, and last but not least, tune up
their guitars and vocal chords for the long night ahead.
At around 9pm groups of men convene, some with pick-up
trucks packed in with microphones and amplification, others
equipped only with their walking shoes and guitars strapped
on their backs. After milling around for a while, the night's
journey begins. The first mother to be surprised is usually
the one whose son has lent his car or equipment. The group
pulls up to the house as quietly as possible, hooks up the
instruments and mics, and starts strumming the first set of
tear-jerking chords. Around mid-song, the mother usually
comes out of the house, accompanied by a daughter, tears
in their eyes. The son gives a short and sweet Mother's Day
dedication, then continues on with the second song. At this
point shot glasses are brought out from the house and filled
with canelazo, a warm and potent traditional Ecuadorian drink.
Now, with a quick burn in the throat and the blood a bit more
alive, the group of men play a song or two more, then move
on to the next mother. Since some of the men may live in the
country-side, the drive or hike might take up to a half hour.
Arriving at their destination, out come the instruments, with
a repeat of the same Mother's Day songs, an emotional mother,
and more alcohol. By this time it has reached midnight but there
are at least three more stops to make."