This Carnaval, Ecuador Program Directors headed south from Quito to Baños for the weekend. Carnaval is celebrated right before Ash Wednesday, so is the equivalent of Mardi Gras in the US. It is typical to throw foam, flour, and eggs (and even mud or paint in some areas) during Carnaval. Thankfully, Baños was just a relatively tame, drizzly landscape of "carioka," the famous white spray foam everyone has for Carnaval.
As gringas, we were prime targets for this holiday fun. Each of us bought a can (or two) of carioka and we spent one afternoon out playing. The streets were full with people running and spraying their foam at any and all who passed by. This community-wide foam battle lasted all through the night, and we had to wait until a friendly (yet very messy) crowd subsided before we were to able to exit our restaurant after dinner one night!
On Sunday, we hopped on a bus an hour away to Ambato, where a famous fruit and flower parade is held every year. We arrived in Ambato and met up with some friends, and spent the morning into the early afternoon enjoying the bands, dance groups, and gorgeously decorated floats of pure fruit and flowers.
While our Carnaval experience was a fairly clean one, other towns got crazy with paint throwing, like here in Amaguaña. It's all in good fun.