Like most Catholic countries, Ecuador celebrates Carnival before Christian Lent. Carnaval is arguably the biggest holiday of the year – bigger and more popular, even, than New Year’s Eve. For those who have never attended New Year’s in Ecuador, it’s like having a two-day alcoholic stroke.

Carnaval falls on a Monday and Tuesday. Saturday and Sunday are for warm-up. I wanted to photograph all four days of celebration. That turned out to be impossible.

I wandered San Clemente on the Saturday and snapped these photos. Things were happening but without a sense of urgency. Sunday I was in bed with a stomach bug. Monday and Tuesday were pandemonium.

On Monday, I set out for downtown along Avenida Quito. I got as far as Andrew and Carol’s place at Casa de Terrazas. The streets were mobbed with cars and pedestrians. There was no moving forward. I soon realized there was also a rapidly diminishing opportunity to retreat.

Carol was on her corner, sipping agua de coco through a straw and casually watching the chaos unfold in front of her home. We tut-tutted the unacceptably warm temperature of her vendor’s coconut water, because this is a thing people discuss in San Clemente. Then I picked my way over a superbly executed motorcycle-and-SUV traffic accident, and went home.