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Like the most undeterred of urban phoenixes Latacunga city just keeps on popping up from the central plateaus of Ecuador, defiantly answering eruption after eruption of the nearby steaming caldera of Cotopaxi with newfound steadfastness and resolve. But at 2,700 metres above sea level, life has never been easy in this town of thin oxygen and limited infrastructure. What it always has been is earthy, free and full of character.
Ask your Latacunga tourist guide for details about the Festival of the Black Mother, a biannual celebration of Ecuadorian traditionalism that weaves the threads of Mayan culture, Incan historicity and Spanish colonialism in one weird and wonderful ball of carnivalesque yarn. Maybe even make the trip to the base of shimmering, snow-tipped Cotopaxi—that metamorphic Demiurge hulking on the horizon.
And don’t even think about leaving without sampling Latacunga’s trademark flavours; the deep fried pork rinds of chugchucaras; the folded empanada pastries; the sweet plantain and corn dishes—all available from the stalls that pepper the corners of the quaint and historical downtown district.