Ecuador’s New Year is full of traditions. Here are a few things that are completely normal here:
1. Making a doll stuffed with paper and wood chips, setting the doll on fire in the middle of the street and watching it burn. Seriously. Totally normal.
2. Running around the block with empty suitcases to ensure you will travel in the coming year.
3. Wearing yellow underwear for luck. Luckily I bought mine early but all of the stores ran out of yellow underwear a couple days before the New Year.
4. Guys dress up like women, stand in the street in front of moving cars, and ask for money. They don’t let ANYONE pass without getting a bit of change. They hold ropes across the road to stop people! My little brother did it and made $10.50 in change.
5. Fireworks, fireworks, and more fireworks. They are everywhere. They are beautiful. They are really, really loud!
My New Year’s Eve day was fabulous. I met my friend Christine for a bite at SwissHotel’s panadería. I was also there to buy a delicious cake for our New Year´s dinner. After, we went down to Amazonas, the main drag in the Mariscal district. We walked along the street and watched people dressed in costumes. There was lots of music, dancing, and float-like presentations. Very festive! On the way home, I stopped and bought a bedazzled shirt for the night. It is awesome and ridiculous. Ecuador is changing my taste!!
When I arrived home, I found Henry Sr. preparing the Año Viejo. He set up a tent outside the house that he equipped with a light to shine on the doll. He made posters with messages for the neighbors. The Año Viejo looked a lot like me. It even had a “Made in USA” sign on it! While Henry got ready for the nighttime activities, André got dressed for an afternoon of stopping cars. He looked hilarious! Henry and I went down the street to see him in action. Some of the guys had fake boobs that they would flash at the cars. Not one driver got annoyed and all of them handed over their change while they were laughing out loud! Then Henry and I went back to Amazonas to see the fireworks and meet up with Marcia. It was so much fun!
When we arrived home, we met up with Esteban and Henry, Jr. who had been on vacation all week. It was so nice to have them back in the house! I really missed them while they were gone. The whole family sat around looking at some of their vacation photos. And then we ate a delicious turkey dinner and the yummy cake I bought earlier in the day. At 11:45 we all headed outside. Lots of families were outside already burning their Año Viejos and lots of people were jumping over the fires! There was tons of smoke and lots of music. After everything burned, we took a walk to see what the neighbors were doing. There was lots of fireworks and fun.
I think such an amazing day bodes well for 2012!