Guayaquil Ecuador: Lagarteros, a tradition that refuses to die

Posted on April 18, 2015 • Filed under: Ecuador, Ecuador Travel, Ecuador Trivia

Guayaquil Ecuador has a rich cultural heritage. During the ages some of the traditions have disappeared. However, one still exists that any visitor will find quaint but is not on the tourist route.

In Ecuador serenades for you lover have existed for centuries. And Guayaquil has a long tradition of Lagarteros who perform serenades for hire. One night at the house we were having a small get together of old friends and family. I wanted to make it special. My nephew said “let’s get a lagartero”. What the hell is a Lagartero”? “Come on I will show you.” he said.

We headed out through the streets of Guayaquil and pull up to the corner of Sucre y Santa Elena and there was a line of cars with men approaching the vehicles and speaking to the passengers. I thought we were either going on a drug buy and or these men were pimps and had women available. I asked my nephew “What are we doing here?, I am not looking for drugs and or women.” He smiled and said, “no, this is where the lagarteros are”.

I thought to myself “maybe it is some exotic food delicacy”. We got out of the vehicle and there were numbers of men camped on the corner and they all had guitars. And up walks this man with a smile that lit up the night sky. I liked him, he had a shaved head like me….. men with shaved heads have a special brotherhood.

My nephew explained to me that these Lagarteros are a long time tradition in Guayaquil of musicians that offer serenades in the Pasillo style, for hire. I thought how wonderful. All of these men were competing for the business and Darmilo Arizala won the job after a price was agreed upon. He loaded up his guitar and got in the car with us and we headed home. He sang pasillos and entertained for an hour and the guests were all pleased. Pasillos are a very haunting type of melody and all Ecuadorians love them.

Here is a short video of Darmilo Arizala at Sucre y Santa Elena found on the internet. This is a tradition not to be missed.


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