Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Años Viejos, Pyromaniacs, and Fireworks...Oh My

I have to admit, it has been quite awhile since I have actually been awake to ring in the new year and say goodbye to the old.  Dave and I have always been a bit more concerned about the eight hours of sleep necessary to enjoy life rather than seeing the ball drop.  But this different.  

It is 12:58 and the neighbor's hired band just started, there are rapid fire explosives (aka fireworks) going off in three minute intervals, and the car alarms throughout our block seem to be answering the loving call of said fireworks.  There will be no eight hours to start off the year for the Richert's this time.

Nothing about our experiences in Ecuador could be classified as typical, and New Year's Eve is proving to be no exception.  The evening started out quite and low key, dinner at home with a movie.  There were the occasional firework, but that isn't anything atypical.  I was even contemplating continuing the tradition of snuggling into bed by 10:30.  

Before I called it a night, Dave and I decided to take a walk through the neighborhood.  We had heard of the Ecuadorian tradition of Anos Viejos and was hoping to see it in action, expecting the festivities to be on a small scale of course.  

We walked through the streets, trying to dodge the amateur firework technicians.

We ended up at the small marina park about a half a block from our house.  Here was Anos Viejos Central.  The people of Puerto Azul had set up their personifications of the old year, stuffed dummies made of sawdust, paper mache, and firecrackers, into huge piles throughout the park.
As the clock ticked towards midnight, the revelers got to work.

Pretty soon, Dave and I found ourselves surrounded by huge bonfires, fighting the urge to run for cover as people continued to through fireworks into the already huge flames.

It was a crazy, code-breaking, beautiful way to ring in the New Year.  I have to say, I'm glad I stayed up for it.  Not that I had much choice, but still...

Here is a little taste for those of you missing out on all of these festivities.

Happy New Year's everyone!  Here is to another year of living the good life.