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Guayaquil

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"New Year's Eve is an exciting holiday in Ecuador, full of tradition, politics, and history... and did I mention, loco pyrotechnics?"

-- Raymond "Rene" Romero

After visiting the Galapagos Islands, we were fortunate enough to land in Guayaquil, Ecuador, a couple of days before the new year.  On Jose Maria Egas Street, we witnessed preparation for one of the most colorful, albeit unusual, "Old Year" traditions I've ever experienced; better known as "Anos Viejos!”  One of the wildest Ecuadorian traditions for ringing in the New Year is the creation of effigies which, I am told, represents local and international politicians, famous figures, or even cartoon characters.  These outlandish effigies are made from old clothes sewn together and stuffed with sawdust, newspaper and, most importantly, firecrackers!  The heads of the effigies, as shown above, are covered with paper måché masks, shaped into caricatures of notorious celebrities and/or other personalities who have been in the news recently.  As the effigy parodies the year's top news stories and scandals, it is often seen as a social and political commentary. 

At midnight these effigies are tirelessly beaten and burned by all, young and old, for the trouble and pain they have caused during the past year.  As an effigy burns, the firecrackers explode and the bravest jump over it, taunting it as a matador does a bull.  By midnight, the city is dotted with the smoldering remains of the "Old Year", and everyone is ready for a fresh, clean start to a new year on the 1st of January!

What are you waiting for?  Hurry and make plans to spend this New Year's Eve in the brilliantly explosive city of Guayaquil!

Burn, Baby, Burn!

-- Ken Carlson --