Thursday, January 3, 2013

Dia Dos y Tres (La fiesta del Ano Nuevo)

Who knew that one of the biggest (possibly THE biggest, since the cities were trying for a Guiness Book record last night) fireworks celebration was here?

Valpo, Vina and Reconada, all along the bay, do a synchronized fireworks display every New Year’s Eve and upwards of 2 million people travel to see it.  All I have to say is BEST.NEW.YEAR’S.EVER.  

Fireworks (fuegos artificiales) start at midnight and go for nearly ½ hour.  I walked down into the flats in Vina with the other 1 million de mis nuevo mejor amigos, and went to the promenade by the Casino and the ocean.

It was pretty late for a prime spot on the rocks on the seafront, or even a standing spot on the sea wall, but there was a tiny bit of space next to an older woman in a walker. 

Most serendipitous meeting of the day!  Although Rosa, age 70, spoke very little English, she was determined to help me out with my Castellano, and miracle of miracles when her son, daughter-in- law and granddaughters arrived, they all spoke English, so we were able to get all the confusing bits sorted out.  Ivan, the son, currently works for Hitachi Data Systems in Santa Clara, worked for HP previously.  Go figure! 

The crowds at the fireworks were loud and happy, with lots of beer and wine in the mix, but no one seemed to be out of control.  I was cautioned to make sure I didn’t take anything I didn’t want to lose, hold on to it tightly and use a money belt.  In a sad commentary on our modern global situation, Chile has a drug problem, much of it in the middle class so non-violent thievery is rampant, particularly in crowds like last night’s. 

Thanks to fellow tour participant Jess’s questions of our guide Michael, I did find out that guns are illegal in Chile, and she was not going to be robbed at gunpoint. Most personal robberies are of the snatch or grab types, but there are also apparently quite a few residential and business burglaries, so most of the houses are gated and walled.

So two thing to know about my experiences so far: Given the California drivers,  I was in more danger on 101 on the way to work than I am here,  the Chileans are vigilant and will not hesitate to tap you on a shoulder and point when you let your guard down.  I was gently scolded by a twenty-something yesterday for setting my camera down when buying some earrings from a street vendor.  

But on to los fuegas artificiales. 

Nothing really does these justice, it was truly awe inspiring.  And to all my family, the usual "OOOooh, Aaaaahhhh" was just too understated.  It was a WOW and Whoa!! kind of display.

Rosa's son gave me a glass of Chilean champagne to toast in the New Year, the crowd was giving out air kisses and hugs, everyone was laughing smiling and sending out good wishes. I walked with Rosa back to her hotel surrounded by lots of celebrating, and no really obnoxious drunks.  Unlike many Americans, who might go home after the ball drops, this is the signal for Chileans to start the party.  The bars are open till they close, and at 1:30, the liquor stores were still doing a booming business, albeit through a small opening in the locked iron gate at the storefront.

Brian, Lya (my hosts) and I were moderate in our post-fireworks celebration.  A small glass of bubbly and off to bed.  

I hope that all of you are equally as excited as I am about 2013.  For many of us there were some big transitions.  I especially hope my Asian friends, particularly Tony Wui, and my friends from Germany (Ralf, Peter, Cecile, Barbara, Eva-Lena, Elisabeth, Nadia, John, et al) find happiness in a post-National Semi world.  Same goes for all the American co-workers.

And for my extended family and friends, particularly the 73 others in the Mackin-O'Rourkes, my favorite ee cummings poem says it all.

i carry your heart with me(i carry it in
my heart)i am never without it(anywhere
i go you go,my dear;and whatever is done
by only me is your doing,my darling)
                                                      i fear
no fate(for you are my fate,my sweet)i want
no world(for beautiful you are my world,my true)
and it’s you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing is you

here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life;which grows
higher than soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that's keeping the stars apart

i carry your heart(i carry it in my heart)

This is why solo travel isn't lonely. 

(Well, that and the internet, and the cell phone, and Facebook...)

May everything good come to all of us in the new year!

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