Heaps of burning bodies, the smell of gun powder, men in drag, rockets in air: It’s Happy New Year’s in Cuenca

Jan 1, 2017 | 8 comments

After about the two o’clock this morning, the streets of Cuenca were still full of people but the party-goers of a few hours earlier had mostly been replaced by a thousand sanitation workers. As has been the case following other recent New Year’s mornings, it’s all hands on board for the city in cleaning up the aftermath of the night before.

“Widows” (men in drag) begged for change.

Only hours before, the streets of Cuenca thronged with last-minute shoppers buying monigotes, or New Year’s dummies, and masks at formal and informal sales stations all over town. There were the traditional “widows,” or men in drag, manning rope lines, stopping cars on city streets, begging for spare change.

There were new entries in this year’s monigote masks, including Donald Trump and Lenin Moreno, heir apparent to President Rafael Correa being the most prominent. And there were plenty of the old standards such as Cuenca Mayor Marcelo Cabrera, Correa and Vice President Jorge Glas.

Ready to party.

After dark, the streets, many of them blocked off for neighborhood parties, were will filled with revelers. A few daring revelers jumped over burning dummies three times for good luck in 2017. Those who didn’t clear the flames will not have good luck.

As the clock approached and passed midnight, all hell broke loose. The sky was filled with rockets and the streets with fire, as piles of dummies incinerated. Everywhere, the smoke smoke hung thick and acrid. Everywhere there was chaos. Friends and strangers embraced.

Think Danté’s hell. Think Mad Max. Think Happy New Year in Cuenca!

The scene at midnight.

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