Saturday, 19 September 2009

El 18 II



Well, thankfully, I was feeling better yesterday- my Lyme symptoms having all but disappeared again with just some residual tiredness. Not only that, but we woke up to a beautiful day here in Santa Cruz- one of the first full days of Spring warmth and sunshine. A great start to the fiestas patrias.

The 18th September in Santa Cruz, Chile is completely different to the 18ths I've spent in Santiago and Vina del Mar. Here it's actually fun, interesting and, best of all, really quite friendly. The 18ths in Santiago and Vina/Valpo have a little tinge of fear in the air about them- lots of drunk people, worries about crime. It feels a little like people are on edge there. In Santa Cruz, however, things couldn't have been more different.

The day started off with the sound of a marching band playing a tune. The two minute tune continued to be played over and over and over and over for the next 6 hours. Very tedious. They really should teach them to play something different. Anyway, the band was leading a procession of all the local schools down Rafael Casanova, ending in the Plaza de Armas. I don't know where all these kids are from- Santa Cruz is only a small town of 30,000 people max- but there are dozens of schools. There's even an Escuela Especial not, as you might think, for gifted children, but for the handicapped. After they passed through the parade we bumped into a friend: "There must be a lot of incest in the country." Hmmm...


The best part of the parade was the huasos (Chilean cowboys or gauchos) and their horses. There must have been a least a hundred of them all dressed up, including women and little kids. Chilean horses are famous for being sturdy, stoic, hardworking and agile (they kind of mirror the Chileans in some ways). The world record for the highest leap is held by a Chilean horse, a fact immortalised in Vina with that statue of the prancing nag...

They start them young in Santa Cruz...





I really don't like kids very much but even I have to admit they all look kind of cute in their little costumes...


Later in the evening we headed off to the media-luna for the ramadas (and guess what- not a single pair of cheap Chinese knickers for sale in sight!). It's Marchigue Spring lamb season at the moment which is far and away the best lamb I've had in South America, much better than the stuff they have down in Punta Arenas...so we had some empanadas and some lamb kebabs before calling it a day and heading home.

Huasos just tie up their horses next to the parked cars. I couldn't see any parking 'cuidadores' screaming 'dele, dele, dele no ma' at the riders but that doesn't mean they don't exist...

I think there's rodeo over the weekend so I hope to be able to check that out...

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