Montubios, mestizos from the Ecuadorian Coast, inhabit the rural areas of the coastal provinces. Spread throughout the provinces of Guayas, Los Ríos, El Oro and Manabí, they are regionalists and lovers of the fields, they have a calling for agriculture, and they have an amazing dexterity to tame horses.
Montubios are proud of their ethnic background and their relationship to the land is central to their culture, their economy and even their social practices. Because of their strong identity and their presence throughout decisive periods of Ecuadorian history, Montubios have been recognized as a distinct ethnicity.
Did you know?
Montubios, also known for their determined character and incredible resilience, played an important role in history fighting alongside patriots during the War of Independence.
They are known for riding donkeys, horses and mules, carrying a machete everywhere they go. They carry along a machete to take out the weeds, their houses are made out of cane and palm (or straw and wood), and their diet consists on banana, cocoa, yuca, fruits, and small animals such as pigs and chicken. Their whole communities are based on subsistence agriculture and have maintained their traditional ways in a modern era.
The montubio is traditionally seen wearing a straw hat, white pants and shirts, carrying a whip and a canteen. They are simple, yet noble in the way they ride and behave. Their riding skills are said to be passed on from generations, it is a part of who they are (their horse is their means of transportation and an instrument for their daily labor) and how they see the world. But besides being agile, they are also courageous, and they demonstrate it every year during the famous Montubio Rodeo.
Every year on October 12, Day of Plurinationality and Interculturality, a rodeo is organized in Babahoyo, Los Ríos. Montubios, who have strong ties to horse breeding and cowboy traditions put on a big show where they lasso, ride and practice clever tricks on top of their horses. The rodeo is a entertainment for spectators but for montubios, it is their stage, and their chance to prove they are skillful riders. It is also a platform to showcase their identity.
As the gallant riders prepare for the rodeo, the women also prepare for the festive day, as a Criolla Bonita or “the Pretty Creole” will be elected on that same day.
The event itself is a demonstration of a blend of cultures that originated with the introduction of the Spanish peoples and African slaves to Ecuadorian natives. The new race that evolved from this interchange of cultures resulted in rich traditions of a folkloric nature that the Montubios proudly practice and celebrate.
In the midst of straw hats, horse manure, pretty women and fearless cowboys, the rodeo is something unique to witness. Prepare to be transported to another era, to conclude your day dancing into the night, and to be part of a festivity that has been preserved for years in the Ecuadorian Coast. On top of all the distinguished qualities mentioned throughout this text, Montubios are also cheerful, and their admirable sense of belonging will not make you feel excluded but welcome.