By Josh Wilcox, KF10 Ecuador

Greetings from KF10!  As the first to start a placement with the most recent Fellows class, I’d like to share my first New Year’s experience outside the good ol’ US of A.  During the first week of my Kiva Fellows placement at brand new Kiva Field Partner Cooperativa San José, I was fortunate enough to spend December 31 recognizing and celebrating the Año Viejo (Old Year) while also welcoming in the Año Nuevo (New Year).  At Cooperativa San José, one of the Cooperativa’s suppliers of office materials gave the entire staff a cooked chancho (pig).  As is the tradition every year to recognize the Año Viejo on December 31, the employees of the Cooperativa celebrated by eating la carne (meat) and el cuero (pig skin) of the pig accompanied with salad and mote (boiled corn) around 10am!

The Cooperativa San José is also one of the main coordinators of the New Year’s festivities within the small town of Chimbo.  Following tradition, we spent much of the afternoon drawing various signs and setting various paper maché effigies and decorations outside for later that night.  My personal favorite was the 10 ft. Michael Jackson effigy, who refused to moonwalk, despite my numerous efforts.

Later in the evening, I witnessed the tradition of the impressive juegos pirotecnicos (fireworks displays) around 11pm.

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Unfortunately, my friend Michael had to go.  Before the clock strikes 12am, the paper maché creations are put in piles along with cardboard boxes and other paper, and burned in the streets.

At the stroke of midnight, the custom is to walk around and greet all your neighbors with a hug, wishing them “Feliz Año” (Happy New Year).  And finally, no Latin American festivity can be complete without hours of dancing, often until daybreak.

Josh Wilcox is serving his second and final Kiva Fellows placement with the KF10 class at new Kiva partner Cooperativa San José in Chimbo, Ecuador.  We are planning on posting our first loans very soon, but please loan to other South American microentrepreneurs here in the meantime.

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