Wednesday, March 08, 2006


Old Year/ New Year in Cuenca

As Ray mentioned, the celebration of what we call "New Year's" seems to be more about the old year, or "ano viejo", in Ecuador. As we walked around Cuenca on New Year's Eve day we saw ano viejo displays going up all over town. These mostly depict events of the past year and people who were in the news in the past year, emphasis being on anything scandalous or controversial.

The yellow banners indicate that there was a competition being held for these large displays, but there were also many small displays on balconies and in doorways of businesses and homes. Most families buy or make an ano viejo figure, that represents the old year. These are displayed during the day and burned at midnight on New Year's Eve. We also saw ano viejo figures displayed on cars and taxis and many people in masks around town.

Probably the most common ano viejo figure this year represented Lucio Gutierrez, the former president of Ecuador who was ousted earlier in the year and fled the country in a helicopter. His rather large nose made for some wicked caricatures, like the fellow on the motorcycle in his Lucio mask.

Even the new Pope made an appearance.

This one shows Gutierrez in his helicopter and the grim reaper pointing to a boat labeled "Coyote Titanic" which refers to a tragic event last year when a group of Ecuadoreans, who were paying to be smuggled, illegally, to the United States drowned. The crew saw that the boat was sinking and made a hasty departure in the life boats, leaving all the passengers with no way to escape or stay afloat.

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