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The Ecuador Chronicles - 2010-02
New Years Widows;
                     Men in Drag;
                              Don Juan Explains
During the day on New Years eve strange apparitions begin to appear on the streets all over Ecuador.  The first one I saw was off the side as we drove by - I wasn't quite sure what I was seeing.
First Sighting - What is This?
Soon there was another - this time in the middle of the road stopping cars, asking for (demanding) money from each vehicle going by.  And people were paying up; they had to just to be allowed to pass.
A strange Apparition - Stopping Traffic, Demanding Money
At first it appeared to be a woman wearing a mask, but upon closer inspection I realized that this was a man, dressed as a woman and wearing a mask.  As we drove further there was another, and another - and we had to pay each one to get by.  What is going on here - your correspondent and resident anthropologist had to find out.  After all, inquiring minds need to know.
Don Juan Explains
I decided to go straight to an expert to find out - none other than Don Juan.  The normally reserved, conservative Juan was in full Art of Fiesta mode when I found him on New Years Day at a Fiesta in the Campo.  I asked Don Juan about these Masked Men in Drag.
Masked Men in Drag - Don Juan Explains
Don Juan Explains:  This is a tradition that goes back into the mists of time.  These are actually straight men dressed as women.  They are pretending to be widows - widows of the old dead year.  Their husbands have died, leaving them penniless - so they have to beg for money.
Well, that explanation clarified everything for me - thank you Don Juan.  So, I asked Don Juan what they did with the money; with my North American sensibilities I naturally assumed they must be collecting for some worthy charitable cause.
Don Juan Explains:  Collecting money for charity?!?  Ha - that's a good one!  No, this happens on New Years Eve, a time of celebration - they will use this money to buy beer.
So then my poor mind wandered to that New Years Eve bar scene - a tavern full of men in drag drinking beer; but I managed to pull myself quickly away from there.
Following the Tradition - Time to Pay Up

Time to Pay Again; If for no Other Reason, Purely Out of Fear

A Variation on the Tradition - Masked Children Also Collecting Money
A Sad, Lonely Widow Through the Windscreen.........So Vulnerable
It is Your Duty to Help - She Needs Beer Money
Would you like to come to Ecuador and Become a New Years Eve Widow - Find out how atLive Well Ecuador: