Monday, October 12, 2009
Reina Mundial del Banano
So a few weeks ago was an annual beauty pageant that takes place in Machala. It crowns the "Banana Queen of the World" and is between the winners of different countries. The contestants were here for maybe a week.
I was heading to Interact club with Araceli (really early at that. It was 5:15 and the meeting doesn´t "start" until 5:30. In Ecuadorian time, that means the meeting starts at 6:30, usually, at the earliest), and we noticed a huge crowd downtown along the street. Turns out there was a parade for the Queens! We stood there and watched the dancers and floats pass. When the US contestant drove by, I cheered especially loudly. I felt like I should go to the meeting, but Araceli said that I could just go late because it´s a special event. Eventually the other exchange students came to get me, so then I went to the meeting.
The next night I got slicked up in black attire and my Rotary blazer and hailed a taxi for the Rotary meeting at 8. The Rotary place was decked out in fancy decorations for the banana queens. I hung out with the other exchange students and kids from Interact while we waited for the appearance of the queens. we went to get some ice cream across the street! I think I got "mora" flavored ice cream - a berry. Anyways, we came back, and the queens finally came at maybe 11. They first walked in one-at-a-time and then sat at the front for some pictures. They then came out and talked to all of the people. There were two girls from the US: the winner of last year and the contestant for this year, both from California. They came and talked to us (exchange students) first. They said that they don´t know what´s going on half the time because they don´t speak Spanish. And they are homesick. And they think we are brave and valient and courageous and charming and charismatic (ok, maybe they only said the first one) because we are going to stay here for a year. After a little chit-chat, I ran around with another exchange student as my photographer and got pictures with all the ones that were there. We were dodging through people, jumping into photos, and intercepting the contestants. At the end we talked again with the US girls and with the girl from Brazil, who spoke English but not Spanish. The night ended with a large congo line/dance circles with the older Rotary men dancing with the beauty contestants. They finally worked their way to the door and left. After all that excitement, we ate some shrimp crépes, brownies, and guayábana cake. Took a taxi home and settled into bed at 1:13 am - on a school night!
The exchange students presented their flags at a fashion show thing in an old mall the next week. We just walked down the stage in our blazers and waved our flags around. Later in the night they presented the queens. They tried to speak Spanish to them all, along with some English (very little English), and some with a translator (for the girl from Germany). I don´t know when or how they decided, but the Banana Queen of the World utimately was the chica from Venezuela. And I do have a picture with her.