Holidays in Ecuador

Christmas in Riobamba! So Patrick and I decided we were going to spend Christmas together. Doing what- we didn’t know. But the Thursday before Christmas we finalized our plan, after a lot of vacilating! That morning we went to Guamote in order to buy a goose for the Christmas dinner we were going to have with the rest of the volunteers in Riobamba. We bought the goose and brought it home to Cajabamba. We weren’t really sure what to do with it while we prepared everything to kill it, but we ended up keeping it in the bag in the shower. I walked into the bathroom at one point, I had rolled the bag down so it could get some air, and it looked at me and hissed Now this wasn’t a normal hiss- it sounded like a dragon about to blow fire at me!! I turned and ran out yelling for Patrick!! He wrapped it back up safely and we waited for the water. Once the water boiled and we had things ready, we took the goose up to the roof for the killing. Now I’ve killed a chicken before, but this… It was incredibly gruesome. Patrick and filmed the process (he had never killed a goose before either), it was long and gory, don’t think I will be doing that again! Finally after maybe an hour the goose was killed, plucked, and the entrails removed. We stored it in the fridge till after our Christmas Eve adventure. We returned Christmas day and went to Daniel’s house to start cooking the goose. Eventually the goose was cooked and we were ready to eat our delicious Christmas dinner. It was a great way to spend my first Christmas in my new country, with friends and great food! We had a wonderful time!

New Year´s in Riobamba was an incredible night as well! Not at all what I was expecting for my new year’s celebration, but definitely an amazing time!! We spent the evening in Riobamba walking down the street and people- watching. What we actually ended up watching was a cultural tradition of young men dressing up as women (traditionally it was supposed to be widows, but ???) and stopping traffic while dancing provocatively on and against the cars, and demanding some sort of payment for passage. There were a few large groups of guys working together humping each other and the muñecos, which were usually strapped to the cars. Now this deserves an explanation as well. Another tradition in Ecuador is the making or purchasing of muñecos, also called Viejos del Año, and at midnight the people make large bonfires, usually in the streets, and burn the dolls. The dolls are generally either popular characters of the season, such as Woody from Toy Story, or a disliked person. Before burning the dolls, they enjoy driving around the city with them strapped to the car, generally to the grill in front, but last night we observed one on the windshield and some on the roof. The ones on the grill usually ended up getting “molested” by multiple groups of drag queens. This went on until almost midnight. Patrick and I spent some time walking the streets and enjoying the “show” then we joined up with some friends. We all met at a friend’s restaurant to continue watching the festivities on the street. One of the fellow volunteers, in the spirit of integration, decided he wanted to join the drag queens on the street. So we exchanged outfits, I had on a cute skirt and a black slinky tank top made for going out and dancing!! Mind you this fellow volunteer is about 6’2 and I am 5’ even. So his clothes on me looked ridiculous, but he looked especially good in my little outfit!!! (good is relative here) He went out on the street in front of the restaurant and began stopping cars and dancing! He immediately drew a crowd! The Ecuadorians LOVED seeing a gringo adopting their tradition! People were snapping photos and filming him, and he completely embraced it and hammed it up! There was even a news person filming him who said it would air on the news Sunday or Monday. By about 11:50 he finally gave it up, after making nearly $10!! So we went back inside and changed clothes. By that time it was midnight- Happy New Year!!! We rang it in on the streets of Riobamba watching the fireworks with many of our new Peace Corps friends! It was a great night!

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