As we rounded a bend on the road somewhere between Medellin and Santa Fe de Anitoquia, I saw what looked like dead bodies sitting propped up against a fence on the side of the road.
“Bodies by the side of the road?” I thought. That definitely didn’t fit with my surroundings, but when you travel to Colombia by yourself as a women, you do try question your surroundings.
I knew that there are some areas of Colombia that are still ripe with civil conflict, but everything I’d heard said that those areas are high in the mountains. We were deep in the Aburra Valley. Also, the land outside of quaint Santa Fe is full of weekend fincas (farms) of the well to do escaping the crowds of Medellin.
As we got closer it became clear that these dolls were only made to look like people. My guide Mauricio quickly explained that these people-sized dolls sold along the road are part of a new year’s tradition. They’re filled with fireworks. Late on new year’s eve, to welcome the new year, the clothing they wear is lit on fire setting off all the fireworks inside.
We saw this doomed man propped up in a hotel lobby in Santa Fe. I’m not sure whether this particular doll was filled with explosives, but it didn’t stop us from taking a picture with him!
His sign reads:”Esta muriendo el 2010!!! Ya va a nacer el nuevo año!!! Viva el 2011!!!” Which means in English, “2010 is dying!!! Now the new year is going to be born!!! Live 2011!!!”
Why exactly are these dolls dressed like people? Why are they sacrificed to give birth to the new year? I still feel like some of this odd tradition was lost in translation, but either way, who doesn’t love celebrating with some fireworks?!
Wishing you a wonderful 2011 that’s ablaze with joy and adventure!