Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Good Bye, Ecuador! Two Weeks of Things I'll Miss: Day 4 - Fireworks

As I watched this week's fireworks display from my living room window, I thought of the Ecuadorian flag.  The frequency of fireworks in my neighborhood alone is enough to honorarily re-purpose the yellow, red, and blue of the flag into the tri-color of a burning flame.  This nation is a nation of pyrotechnics.  Birthdays, holidays, and festivals all require explosives.  While my weekly fireworks shows are probably the result of birthdays (always a big to-do here), the most famous displays in Ecuador occur during January. 

In the weeks leading up to New Year's Eve, cartoon characters, political figures, and celebrities mingle in the streets as papier-mâché figures known as año viejos.  They can be as small as a kleenex box or as large as a house. Businesses keep small change jars, and customers contribute money for fireworks.

Then on New Year's Eve, these "old years" are strapped to cars and buses, driven around the city, and finally toasted and exploded in bacchanalian 
fiestas across the nation.  It's similar to Las Fallas in Spain, but without a lot of safety precautions.  This year, I'm saying good-bye to the old year by leaving Ecuador, but this is one tradition I hope to take with me. 

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