Blurred from late nights, restlessness, inconsistent yet heavy meals in the limbo after Christmas, I wasn’t sure I wanted to leave the house for New Years Eve.
But the mother of my girlfriend had cooked a roast pork, and I was hungry. So I was lured to the nearby grandparents’ place. I am glad I did, because it was a more sociable time than the New Years Eve before.
There was a lot better food too! There was the pork, some sort of Russian salad, bread, gravy, and rice (of course).
Five minutes before the bell tolled midnight, everyone was handed cute little bags of grapes. “How strange,” I thought, remarking on the ribbon decorating the plastic. So I opened it and began eating.
All the family stared at me and, basically, asked what I was doing. I shouldn’t have been eating the 12 grapes yet.
At midnight on every stroke you have to eat a grape, make a wish, and then eat another. You basically have to shove grapes down your throat to do it in time. I’m not sure the conditions in getting these wishes, and so nobody told me you can’t tell anybody (at least in English), so I wished for health, safety when I travel into the jungle, and happiness, and love, and comfort for my family back home. Damn, I should have asked for a second Nintendo Switch!
The loud banging in the video is from all the fireworks that are going off from the tops of buildings, and in the streets, around us.
And then, if this wasn’t already the strangest thing, everyone grabbed pinches of lentils and shoved them in their pocket or their wallet. It symbolises money.
I’m unsure if this is traditional Spanish colonial tradition, a remnant from times before, or possibly from the family’s Chinese heritage.
The fireworks continued to crack on the streets and above various houses. It seems from my observations that certainly families or households stock up on their fireworks throughout the year and then, at midnight on Christmas Eve and NYE, let them crack.
But over the years these families have competed with each other with the longest lasting, and the best fireworks displays. Their competition has evolved into fucking mind games with each other in an effort to be the last ones burning up a strong display.
At 12.30am there were two houses in different directions clearly mindfucking with each other, because their displays were fairly quiet. Building A on the far end of the park brought out a great display of gold, blue, and green that would have suited any agricultural show back home in Australia. And then they waited. Waited. Waited for the other building close to another side of the rectangular memorial park to make its move.
They waited. They waited. Waited. Then they let off a few more fireworks, to tempt building B. It was fairly ordinary. Then waited, set off a few more fireworks, and kept quiet. It let off a generous display and then when all was quiet for a while, we retreated indoors to drink any alcohol that remained.
15 minutes later they were all fucking going for it, deafening my ears with their final annual showdown.
This might be my last blog post in a while. I’ll be backpacking through the Amazon for the next three weeks. I’m not taking my laptop and I’m unsure how the reception is going to go.