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Tony Gavilanes / Lacy Sarco

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"New Year & Set Plans"
(episode 6)

Can't see the movie? Click here to download Quicktime

Wow! New Years in Ecuador is really something else...

We observed some pretty amazing traditions held unique to Ecuador. And were extremely pleased to have attended a "Burning Man"-type event! The days leading up to December 31st have the Quito streets filled with vendors of Año Viejos (old years). These are doll-like men stuffed with wood chips and wearing a plethora of different masks. As history goes, these signified the husbands of the Viudas (widows), who were actually males, and would dress in all black and go to the streets to ask for money. At Midnight, everyone burns their Año Viejos and release the old year.

What this tradition has turned into within the last 15-20 years is that men dress up, in outlandish clothing consisting of miniskirts, kleenex breasts, and wigs to hit the streets to ask for money. Often times these new-age viudas team up with other cross-dressers and with rope tenders who, together, block passage down most of the roads of the city. There's no way out of it. We actually rode with a taxi driver who told us that he had changed some bills to pennies, and by 5pm, had already spent three dollars.. That's 300 viudas!

The very best part of the tradition is the burning of the Año Viejo. Often times, the masks are of politicians. We saw a Bin Laden mask in fact... But surprisingly, after not finding a George W., Lacy and I settled on a fat cat businessman. And we burned him with great pleasure. Tio Hernan also bought one, and with Andy's fireworks, we had quite the time burning away our old year. Tia Bebi introduced us to one more tradition of eating twelve grapes at midnight, each with a wish. The aftermath of the pyrotechnics and Año Viejos on the city are scars of charred street on almost every corner, yet the tradition thrives!

The second portion of this entry consists of our plans that we have resolved for 2009. With the help of my mom, Peggy, who works for Holland America Cruise Line, we were able to elaborate our terrestrial travel plans out into the oceans as well. Garnering a ridiculous price, we will embark on a 16-day cruise, which takes us from the middle of Chile all the way around the southern tip of South America, and up the Atlantic coast to Rio de Janeiro, Brasil. What's even better is that she is going to meet us in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and cruise with us, spending almost a week in Rio before she leaves! We couldn't be more excited. Our general itinerary is below for your drooling and jealousness... hahaha!!

Quito, Ecuador to Lima, Peru - 2/5
Lima, Peru to Cusco, Peru - 2/10
Cusco, Peru to Machu Picchu, Peru - 2/13 (by train)
Cusco, Peru, to Lake Titticaca, Peru - 2/16
Lake Titticaca, Peru to La Paz, Bolivia - 2/18
La Paz, Bolivia to Santiago, Chile - 2/21
Santiago, Chile to Valparaiso, Chile - 2/25
Santiago (Valparaiso), Chile
1 At Sea
2 Puerto Montt, Chile
3 Darwin Channel and Chilean Fjords
4 Amalia Glacier and Canal Sarmiento
5 Strait of Magellan
5 Punta Arenas, Chile
5 Cockburn and Beagle Chanels
6 Ushuaia, Argentina
7 Scenic cruising Cape Horn
8 Pt. Stanley, Falkland Islands
9 At Sea
10 At Sea
11 Buenos Aires, Argentina
12 Buenos Aires, Argentina
13 Montevideo, Uruguay
14 At Sea
15 At Sea
16 Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
-----END OF CRUISE-----
Rio de Janeiro, Brasil to Sao Paolo, Brasil - 3/22
Sao Paolo, Brasil to Iguazu, Argentina - 3/25
Iguazu, Argentina to Asuncion, Paraguay - 3/26
Asuncion, Paraguay to Santa Cruz, Bolivia - 3/27
Santa Cruz, Bolivia to La Paz, Bolivia - 3/28
La Paz, Bolivia to Lima, Peru - 3/29
Lima, Peru to Guayaquil, Ecuador - 3/30
Guayaquil, Ecuador to Quito, Ecuador - 4/4

We look forward to making a whole lot of new entries while on the road, although there's a good chance we won't be able to produce or update them until we are on the cruise, so keep yourselves up to date, and for that matter, RSS this blog. It's very easy... If you use one of the readers listed above, then just click on the appropriate link, otherwise click on the "RSS feed," and your browser will take you to where you need to go.

POSTED: January 11, 2009