Queen for a day
Although the main purpose of us heading into the wilderness of Cadmalca was to build a stove we still had quite a bit of free time in the afternoons. Thanks to the rather extraordiary family that we stayed with at the lodge this meant we were constantly off doing things. One afternoon in particular we headed off with Celida (our local guide) her brother Jose and her boyfriend Edver to the Llangoden community about 8ks away for its inugural fiesta. To get there was interesting, in a place where there are no telephones, and until 3 years ago no road, transport is an interesting prospect. Having walked to this community the day before (it takes over 2 hours) Celida thought we would take a "taxi" this time. Basically getting a taxi means walking down to the main road and waiting for any kind of vehicle to come past and see if they will give you a lift for a few dollars or for free. Its all very zen and inevitably someone does turn up. On this day it happened to be a distant cousin of Celidas who was driving his pickup truck past. So we piled into the cabin and into the back and made our dusty way to the fiesta.
This being the first ever fiesta meant that this was a big deal and people from all sorts of communities got spiffed up in their best clothes and hats and made their way by "taxi", foot, horse or mule to the action. After checking out the band, the dodgy fireworks and having a beer or two with Jose, Ed and I were invited to be judges in the all important "La Reina" competition. This is the local beauty comp and to be the Reina (Queen) is quite an important accolade. The pressure was on and after being introduced as "Katty Browoon and Eduardo Holmez" the special guests from Australia we were seated and given our score sheets. We had to judge on deportment and arrival, facial beauty, best traditional dress and the ability to answer a question.
The three wannebe queens arrived on very large horses in full regalia. One was already trying to work the judges over by throwing Ed and Jose some rather seductive looks (all at the age of 12!) and then the race was on. During the competition Ed was invited to dance by one of the Queens, a rather mysterious dance that involved Ed waving a hanky around. I didnt escape as the MC invited me up onto the stage to hand out the "preguntas" (questions) to the Queens which were fascinating questions like "how do you make cheese?". In my nerves at being up infront of so many people my Spanish dried up faster than a puddle in the desert and all I could get out over the microphone was a squeaky "Hola" when I was introduced.
Finally the tasks were over and the voting process began. In my, Eds and Joses mind there was a clear winner. However the other local girl who was judging obviously had it in for our little Queen and marked her right down leaving who we considered an inferior well in the lead, but there was nothing we could do, the numbers had spoken and the winner walked away with $30 and the title of "La Reina". Eduardo and I walked away into the crowd only to be followed with points and whispers of "Australianos" from the locals.
Ed dances the mysterious and seductive dance of the Hanky with the queens.
Ed and I with the lucky winner - La Reina de Llangoden