February 29, 2012

New Year's in Quito

One of the floats with effigies 
Wow, is this post overdue or what? Sorry! But still, it's good to tell you about all the festivities that went on in Quito around New Year's. We had just gotten back from the beach a few days before and took a walk through the "parade" of floats in Quito. Then, we met up with friends at a neighbor's place. You really can't start too much of the fun until midnight, but we passed the time well.

Yum, fried dough with honey!
Closer to midnight, we went to the local park for fireworks and more. One of the traditions here is to create (or buy) effigies of yourself, dress it up in old clothes and burn it at midnight. You'll see effigies being sold throughout the city and can include effigies of people from the past year, such as celebrities, cartoon characters (like the Smurfs or the Hulk), and politicians. This is seen as cleansing by burning the bad things from the past year to get on with the new year, all fresh and without constraints. We weren't organized enough so we just watched our friends burn their effigies. If you really want to start fresh, you're supposed to jump over the burning effigies. We were surprised that no one in our group got seriously hurt while doing that.

My favorite devil in the crowd - ferocious!
One of our friends brought fireworks and sparklers for us to shoot off at midnight. From our view, we could see miniature fireworks displays created by people like us all over the city. It was really cool to see and yet nice to be far enough away to not risk getting hit by an errant firework. Stuff like that can happen as we learned in Munich when people would get together at midnight as well to blast fireworks all over the city. Better to stay farther away and further up to see the best fireworks!

One last thing - during the day, throughout town, there were teens and young men who dressed as women and stopped traffic (literally) to beg for money. They're called widows of the old year. Some looked better than I do on a good day; others kept their mustaches, which ruined the intrigue.

Our favorite widows posing with a Chuckie effigy
I'm sure there's more fun that we had and traditions we saw, but that's about all I can remember right now.

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