Happy New Year!

I had a "technical difficulty" with my emails to subscribers - I didn't know they weren't sending until someone mentioned it today. It should be working now if you receive this - I apologize for the confusion. But that means that there have been a few posts over the last few weeks that you might like to see ...

Last night of course was New Year's Eve, and the main street here in San Isidro was completely packed with people, mostly dancing with some drinking. The party went all night long, and I went with Pd Oscar for a few hours until a little after midnight.

There are a few traditions in Ecuador for New Year's, including the making of "monigote's", which are figures that are made to be later burned at midnight. It's supposed to be a personality or effigy of someone from the past year that represents the year, so they are also called "Año Viejo" (Old Year). The idea is a "good-riddance" burning of what you didn't like from the last year, and welcoming the new year. The making of monigotes has become more and more some cool-looking figure, like the giraffe here. It's all a comedy effect.

Traditionally, the monigote wears a "testiment" that is a sort of comedy "roast" of the year that includes funny references to happenings in the family/community during the past year. This testament is read at midnight after the monigote is burned, and since the Año Viejo has now passed away, the widows lthe Año Viejo emerge begging your compassion in the form of a donation to support the party that the maker of the monigote has hosted. The widows are always men dressed as women, and it's a comedy that also has the effect of soliciting funds to pay for the party. These days, it isn't often that there is a testimony or widows, and the widows usually come out a lot earlier than midnight and roam around harassing people for donations with the comedy effect.

Burning some Año Viejos after midnight - you can see the huge crowd down the street at the end of the video.

I am leaving today (Monday) from San Isidro to return to Quito until Wednesday. From there, I will go to the Province of Chimborazo, in the Canton called Riobamba. From there, I'll go to the small twin communities of Alao and San Antonion de Alao until Sunday. There are some big plans, as there are a number of people from those communities in Massachusetts who I've gotten to know, and they are sending down Christmas gifts to the people here to accompany my visit. Word has it, that Santa might appear yet again??....

I hope you have a happy and blessed New Year!