I’m back in Bogota after being part of an extraordinary set of New Year’s Eve celebrations in a small town called Facatativa, two buses away.
I was invited by my Colombian friend to attend his family celebrations, and in a heart beat I was in its epicentre.
New Year’s Eve here is full of superstition and ritual, and I kind of loved that.
They asked what New Zealand’s rituals were and I thought back to all the Queenstown ‘count downs to midnight’ I’ve attended where I slightly feared a bottle on the back of my head or a splash of vomit on my shoes. I didn’t have much to offer as you can imagine.
In Colombia, if I want to travel a lot, I’m supposed to run around the block with a suitcase.
If I want prosperity, I need to wear yellow knickers.
If I fill my pocket with lentils, and reach for some at midnight I will not go hungry in the year ahead.
If I really want to clean the slate from the year I’ve had, I need to set fire to a scarecrow kind of stuffed dude, also at midnight. Burning him to cinders takes with him the remnants of what I want to leave behind.
I didn’t have much notice of course, but I gatecrashed someone else’s burning man and evaporated the feelings I didn’t want to take with me into 2019.
You can laugh all you want at the rituals and superstitions of different cultures, but when they’re part of a storyline that’s generations old and helps shape and inform the structure of important times, there’s something altogether magical about them to me. Poetic even.