Monday, September 21, 2015

Chile’s True Colors

Three days of music, dancing, barbecues and shows, while red, white and blue flags brightened city streets, honoring September 18th, Chile’s Independence Day. Lines of cars and buses filled the roads out of the city – to the coast, to the countryside. Like many others, though, we stayed in town. Hubby needed some down time after his long flight home from Italy. Some stayed in town to settle their nerves.
Two days before the celebrations began, this land performed true to its geography. I was sitting home alone at my computer (hubby was en route in the sky somewhere) when the shaking began. A strong sideways movement (8.4 at its epicenter) that seemed endless.  I held onto my desk and waited it out. An hour later, another one. I went to get a flashlight, just in case. Fortunately, no damage, just pictures rocked askew on the walls. Immediately, a text message from my Brooklyn-er son. I assured him all was well. The next day a flood of emails from concerned friends in the States.
On the second day of the festivities, I suggested to hubby that we go with friends to the “fonda”, a traditional Independence week fair. Everyone who hadn’t gone out of town was there. Families with children and their dogs dressed in traditional costumes.

 We bought lunch at food trucks, while, mouth-watering smells of roasting pigs and lamb tempted crowds to wait in long lines.
Enough for all

 Exhibits and traditional dancing and games attracted others. We headed to a large field ringed by bleachers to watch a demonstration of the Army’s Hussars Death Squadron, attired in pre-independence uniforms, bearing spears and mounted on handsome black horses. Their skills and precision drew enthusiastic applause. Once again I lamented that I’d never had the opportunity to learn to ride those magnificent creatures.
Selling beef jerky and "cuchuflí" Chilean sweets

Stiff and sore from the long stretch on hard bleachers, we headed for the exit gate, as new arrivals poured in. We’d immersed ourselves in Chilean traditions and were ready for the comforts of home, the start of spring in two days – and a series of ongoing aftershocks.

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