I couldn't help but make comparisons between how things are here and how they are back in the States. I know it's not all that unusual for a sitting president to go out on the campaign trail but I'm having trouble imaging him going to a town as small as Cotacachi. Other than that, though, there were other things that made this visit unusual for me and a couple of things that just kind of surprised me when I learned about them.
- His security people were dressed pretty much like everyone else in the crowd--jeans or casual slacks, shirt open at the neck, and a lightweight windbreaker or jacket.
- When I walked up to one of his security people to ask if that's what he was, he smiled and chatted with me for a few minutes. I'm not quite sure what the Secret Service's reaction would have been to me saying something like, "Hi, are you part of the president's security detail?" but I'm guessing it wouldn't be quite as informal as this was.
- There wasn't a single metal detector to be found.
- A friend of mine was within 6 feet of the president with no barriers between them.
- During the "warm up" part, before the president arrived, a fellow asked the crowd to please be respectful and quiet while the president was speaking--everyone was.
- The president stepped down from the presidency for one month and his vice president is the acting president while Raphael (he prefers that to "Mr. President" or President Correa") is campaigning. If he didn't do that, he wouldn't be allowed to campaign--it's not part of his job description.
- None of the candidates are allowed to campaign more than the 30 days before the election.
So, those were a few of the things that were different than I would expect them in the States.
Now, on with the photos!
The little guy below was perched up on this "garden sculpture" for the longest time, waving his giant campaign flag.
Ah, at last, the president has arrived amidst balloons and confetti.
The large campaign poster shows him in has formal attire and of course that's him talking to the crowd.
And so I headed home before he was finished speaking. I don't know how much longer I could have stood up. I'd been there for about four hours--I don't do well standing for long periods of time. Of course the other reason was that he was speaking in Spanish and, while my Spanish improves daily, it's not yet good enough to have understood what he was saying.
The party continued on for a couple of hours. I fell asleep listening to people laughing, talking, singing, and generally having a good time.