Loose Roots, New Traditions

Machachi, cantonal capital of Mejía, is a city that has stretched throughout a valley adjoining mountains and volcanoes. Its inhabitants, the residents of Pasochoa, Rumiñahui and El Corazón, get prepared in advance to receive the Paseo del Chagra (“the Andean cowboy”) and all the events it entails. This festivity summons people from all over the area, making it the biggest meeting of the chacarera culture in Ecuador. During its festivities, Machachi becomes a convention that brings together chagra associations, bullfighting fans and other people who want to be part of the exhilaration and the excesses of typical rural parties. Nonetheless, there many families who still wear the poncho of the landowner and recognize themselves as authentic chagras. The word Chagra comes from the quichua word “chacra”, which means “a piece of land”. In the early days, the Chagra was the guardian of the mountain; the highest Andean moors still preserve their spirit, deeply marked by miscegenation. This project is a reflection of this traditional festivity, its popular aspects, its imposed practices and the result of the Colony faced against indigenous practices. The result: a couple of fights, gambles and some rum.

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