“It’s the last day of the year Jackson. You know it is custom to wear yellow on New Years Eve for prosperity for the coming year. I wonder if the Ts will wear yellow and if they have something yellow for us to wear as well.”
“The ‘color’ thing is not a very strong tradition, I believe we are prosperous now Nilla. Besides have you made up your list of resolutions yet?”
“No, I have some ideas, what about you?”
“The people in Crucita have been so nice to us. Is it this way every where in Ecuador?”
“I think it’s like most places – there are nice people and not so nice people. You know that Ecuador is the smallest of the Andes countries however its history and diverse geographic regions, the jungles (Oriente), the mountains (Sierra) and the coast (Costa), not to mention the Galapagos, contribute to distinct societal groups. The country was predominantly a rural society until the discovery of petroleum in the 1970’s which brought increased revenue and jobs, enticing rural dwellers to the opportunities in the cities and this migration created urban expansion.”
“But what about the coast Jackson? I’ve heard that the coast is known for marimba music but I haven’t seen or heard a single marimba!”
“That’s along the northern coast Nilla. The inhabitants of the communities along the northern coast of Ecuador near Colombia differ from those in the southern coast near Peru – historical events a major contributor.”
“Yes Nilla, history.”
“In 1533, the first enslaved Africans reached Ecuador in Quito after a slave ship heading to Peru was stranded off the Ecuadorian coast, but by another account, in the 17th century, a slave ship capsized off the Ecuadorian coast, the surviving slaves fled and established their first settlement along the coast of Esmeraldas in the north, which later became the destination for many freed slaves from other parts of South America.”
“And that’s where the marimbas are?”
“Yes, but there’s more to the story. In the Chota Valley, Jesuits and hacienda owners brought African slaves to the region as cheap labor. Those who were able to flee, joined free Blacks on the coast. There was a long history of African slave rebellion and resistance and so, during the war for independence from Spain, many of the Blacks joined Simon Bolivar’s army with a promise of freedom. However, despite Ecuador emerging victorious, slavery was not abolished until 1854. Today, Afro-Ecuadorians make up 4%- 6% of the total population, many of whom are direct descendants of formerly enslaved Africans brought by the Spanish during their conquest of Ecuador from the Incas.”
“So Ecuador abolished slavery even before the United States?”
“So, a little more history Nilla. Abraham Lincoln, while opposing the expansion of slavery, did not support equality for freed slaves. On August 4, 1862 Lincoln appointed James Mitchell as Commissioner of Emigration to devise a plan for colonization, the solution to the’ race’ issue. Sending them to Liberia, Lincoln’s original thought, was not practical. One of the alternatives, which seemed more realistic was an exodus to the Caribbean or Central or South America, including Ecuador.”
“Yes, a name for the new settlement was suggested by Senator Samuel Pomeroy – ‘Linconia’. On August 14th, 1862, President Lincoln met with a Black delegation to discuss colonization, they were insulted. The Emancipation Proclamation, freeing all slaves in the rebellion states, in reality, freed few. It did however provide restricted opportunities to some Blacks, of acceptable condition, to serve in the military, a political maneuver which may have paved the way toward the bi-racial future for the United States”
“Some Lincoln historians claim that Lincoln’s policies fueled racial tension. The major ‘colonization’ plans were never realized. Abolition of slavery didn’t formally occur until 1865.”
“And the Civil War then wasn’t about slavery?”
“Not really Nilla, it was more about the union of the states. But that’s enough history for today. We have a big night ahead of us!”
“Time for a walk down toward the pier don’t you think?”
“Great, a day at the beach.”
“Not much is going on down on the far end of the malecon and on veinticinco Nilla. Still more figures, some more traditional, appearing on vehicles and at store fronts. Fresh vegetables, what a treat.”
“Have to wash and rinse produce before going back to the beach, we’ll have salad for ‘lupper’.”
“The Ts are going for a walk down the malecon in the opposite direction, I think we should take a nap, especially if we’re going to be up late.”
A chance encounter with expats as we pass by Las Ramblas, and Joffre, the owner is there. Joffre offers some suggestions for a visit to the Galapagos. Well wishes to all before an evening snack, nachos at Crucita Village Hostal and Restaurante. Back to Las Dunas for a short rest before the noise begins.
“Nilla, we’re getting yellow ribbons for the celebration – prosperity in 2019!”
“I thought you weren’t ‘into’ the color thing.”
A little passed 11:00 PM. It’s raining! There’s steady traffic and noise along the malecon. High tide at 11:44 PM won’t leave much space on the beach for the 2018 fires at midnight!
Crowds are gathering, Las Ramblas offers shelter from the rain and a view of the activities. The noise level reaches 103 decibels at times.
People are trying to light the linternas de despedidas y deseos, but the air is heavy it’s difficult to get them to lift upwards.
Some ‘old year’ munecas are lit before midnight, and fireworks are lighting the skies everywhere one looks.
It’s midnight – the real fun begins – 2018 fires along the beach and the exploding fireworks tucked inside the figures – sending sparkles into the sky and beach and adding considerably to the noise level.