Sunday, March 04, 2007

New Year: Burning Life-Sized Dolls

Ecuador has many rituals related to bringing in the New Year, one of them includes the creation of and burning of large paper-mache effigies.

The "muñecos", or dolls, as they are referred to here, are made in the shape of famous people, cartoon characters, politicians, athletes... or yourself, family and friends!

Here Yana, from the University of Chicago Global Village group which built in Guayaquil, holds the hand of Ecuador´s newly inaugurated "President Correa." (the other guy , Naboa, won in Guayaquil) This particular muñeco is small in comparison to many others I saw during the next few days!

James flew into Guayaquil to spend New Years with me, and after we spent about a day there we traveled to the coast. We began in a small fishing-tourist village called "Puerto Lopez" (also the departure point for "Isla de la Plata", see post on Blue Footed Boobies- Prelude to Galapagos).

On the way out of town we witnessed many muñecos being transported out of the city for peoples New Years Celebrations. Here is the Incredible Hulk, tied to someones truck! The idea of the dolls in the shape of politicians and sports celebrities is that you get to burn a team that you don´t like, or a political figure... I didn´t really get the idea of burning the super heroes! I think James and I saw ... at least 5 or 6 Supermen. Here is the "squirrel " character from the Ice Age movie. This particular muñeco was driven all over town many times even though Puerto Lopez was his final destination. It seemed as the time grew near for their incineration, the dolls were moved to more prominent locations or taken for a spin!..

So, for those interested in making their own muñeco... and I considered it, you only have to worry about making the body (that is, if you are sticking to human forms). That is because your local stores are tuned into head salesmen! For all those head-hunters out there. Here is James hanging out with the selection of heads on the "main road in Puerto Lopez. The heads seem rather pink don´t they? So, the kind of doll that was made to look like you, or your family or other local people had a different context. Usually these dolls were accompanied with long written explanations of things that had happened in the last year that were lamentable, or that a person was pledging to not have happen again. Many times the statements included inside jokes and references to very confusing instances...
Here I am with a neighbor boy and his family´s group of four muñecos, playing cards.

Muñecos representing US President Bush and Vice President Cheney were burned by the most popular hostel on the Puerto Lopez coast. They were displayed holding weapons at the hostel entrance until close to midnight when they were taken to the beach for a bonfire.

James and I tried to bring in the New Year 2007 with an Ecuadorian Champagne... however when we went to "release" the celebratory cork... all pressure had long since dissipated! this did not damper our spirits however, we quickly recovered from the comic disappointment and got in some dancing at the local block parties:-).

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