Friday, January 18, 2013

Happy New Year

New Year's Day is the most "official" holiday in all of Ecuador.  In the entire time I've been here there has never been a day when everything was closed but New Year's Day it was--everywhere.  There was no gas delivery, garbage pickup, absolutely nothing that made any noise out there.  No deliveries, no stores open, nothing.  It was pretty amazing.  I only mention the gas delivery and garbage pickup because those folks were out on Christmas Day but not on New Year's Day.

Of course the night before was a whole different story.  New Year's Eve is a huge event here filled with symbolism and lots of parties.
People dress in costume, stop cars, and demand a fee to pass.  Of course it's pretty much voluntary and I always saw them lower their ropes if they had them or step aside for taxis.  These adorable kids live in my block and for a small fee they were more than happy to pose for me.  The wigs were very popular and I think that next year I might have to try to find one for myself.

I don't always get to take pictures of kids who are happy to pose for me so I took advantage of the feelings of generosity on New Year's Eve.  The little one wasn't quite as sure about me as her sister.

Effigies play a big part in the whole celebration.  People stuff old clothes and portray popular characters, political figures from here and other countries (Reagan is still popular here for some reason).  At midnight they are thrown in a fire to symbolize getting rid of the old things of the past year.

"Goodbye cruel world."  You'll notice, if you look closely, there's a small tray for the collection of money.  I used up every penny I had in my coin purse between the kids in the street and the displays like this one.  It was great fun.

Then there are stages set up all over town with much singing, dancing, food, and revelry of all sorts.  Unfortunately, my camera decided to act up about this time so I missed getting any of the happenings from later in the night--rats! Here again we have the Bomberos (I had their nativity scene in my last post) and a family in wigs and costumes.

One more group of children dressed up and collecting money (notice the cup being held by the littlest child).  They are so adorable.  They have their effigy all ready for midnight, too.

I also had the opportunity to go to a couple of New Year's Eve parties.  At this one we all wrote our names and what we wanted to release from the past year and put them into the fire at midnight--well, it was midnight in England (7:00 p.m. here).  We used Greenwich Mean Time because not many of us were going to be awake at midnight local time.

One of the most fun things that happened was the giant moth that flew into the community center where we were partying.  Chuck was able to catch it so he could take it outside and release it.

Oops, it took off.  It was tough to hang onto him without him either getting away or getting hurt.  This time he got away.

I think he's just so beautiful.  Right after this picture was taken he was successfully released back into the night.

What a lovely way to end the year--lots of celebrations with both friends and strangers, releasing what we wanted to leave behind from the year before, and also releasing one of God's creatures back into the wild--OK, he probably would have found his way out on his own but it was still nice to be able to help him along.

Happy New Year everyone!

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