Año Viejo (Old Year) in Guayaquil

PR and I went for a personal retreat to Guayaquil to plan for 2011. Guayaquil is the commercial capital of Ecuador (Quito is the historic and political capital) and a highly populated city. It was an interesting trip as we tried different typical food and visited different places. We also took photos of various Año Viejo in the streets, especially at 6 de Marzo where the entire street is closed off and there are thousands of Año Viejos on sale. You can also take pictures with the giant ones for a fee of 25 cents or 50 cents. 🙂 There are a lot of fireworks and sparklers and the like on sale there too. There is a huge crowd and the vendors or kids sometimes set off the fireworks just right beside you, and some even peddle them illegally to you, so tourists should be careful.. of your wallets and physical safety!

Año Viejo literally means “Old Year”. On the last day of the year (31st Dec), every household (almost) make dolls out of paper, woodshavings and old clothes. They put a mask or draw a face on the doll, usually a famous character such as a politician or cartoon character, or someone they díslike, or someone in the family (hehehe.. like an affectionate joke…).. This doll is meant to signify the “old year” – the year that is going to pass. Sometimes they even write a “will” for the “viejo” or “monigote” (the name of the doll) and read it together as a family. The day is usually spent with family members and at midnight, kerosene or some combustible liquid is poured on the Año Viejo and they burn the Año Viejo, signifying the passing of the old year, old regrets, bad happenings, unhappy memories… and welcome the New Year with hope. You can see año viejos all over, shops have them, sometimes some people just leave them along the streets as display, some are for sale, some cars and buses also tie them to the front of the car!

In Guayaquil, there are more año viejos and they are also bigger and more elaborate. This was the highlight of our trip to Guayaquil. 🙂 We also discovered that there were not many “viudas” or “widows” in Guayaquil streets as compared to Quito. The “viudas” are actually men that dress up as “widows” mourning the passing of the “old year”, their “husband”… and well.. most of the time, they don’t dress like they are in mourning. Haha.. Anyway, a friend explained to us that the reason why there are lesser viudas on Guayaquil streets is because this part of the culture had been abused and many people had been robbed or assaulted because they stopped to give money to the “viudas” in the streets.

Below are some photos we took in Guayaquil this year, including lots of seafood dishes.. yums!:


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