Happy New Year, aka “let’s blow shit up” day in Guatemala! Very different from last year´s party in Sydney but a lot of fun too.
Antigua is well-known for its New Year parties and it didn’t disappoint. The town was packed with travelers and locals, mostly from Guate. Some family-friendly entertainment took place in the picturesque “Arch Street” but the rest of us were too busy playing with a lighter and firecrackers to stop and watch it.
Yes, I’m traveling with a pyromaniac Chinese. Feng has great memories of Chinese New Year in his childhood where the entire city just smelled of gunpowder and when he saw the stalls of firecrackers, he just couldn’t resist. We bought a bag of goodies and did what the locals did: find a quiet street, light up and run like hell.
Soon, the entire city smelled of sulfur and gunpowder and thick clouds of smoke floated around. Cars alarms, triggered by the explosions, started off everywhere.
It’s a miracle the city didn’t burn down. In the Plaza, groups of people started playing with what I call “Thai Lanterns” (we saw a lot of these in Thailand). They are basically like mini air-balloon. You are supposed to throw them high and they fly away, powered by the fire. Of course, in Thailand, people do that on the beach, not in crowded alleys. On the plaza, lanterns kept on getting caught in the trees—talk about a fire hazard!
At midnight, people switched from firecrackers to actual firework—you know, the kinds that are usually done from a safe place. Not a chance: once again, people light them up from the street!
Since I don’t have the intensive Chinese firecrackers training Feng underwent as a kid, I just played with “baby” firecrackers. And smoked the cigarettes needed to light the things up.
Today, the firecrackers frenzy continues. At noon on the dot, it felt like being in Kabul. Firecrackers, more fireworks and smoke coming from all corners. It is now 5:38 and apparently it’s time to play again… my ears are rigging as the left-over firecrackers are being lit up again!
So I wish all of you a prospero año nuevo. Mau all your dreams come true!