Friday morning my host family offered for me to join them at “la fila” for el Día de las Glorias Navales. The holiday is this upcoming Wednesday, and celebrates the naval battle of Iquique, where we were the winners, viva chile. The Friday before the holiday, however, always hosts a parade in Viña where local high schools (including the one my host bro attends) come and march in unison with small bands and matching uniforms. I will now tell you more about the parade, and more about Chile in general, of which I learned a lot from this one event.
1 Parades are not parades. It would be an understatement to say that I was “disappointed” by the fact that no one was throwing tootsie rolls at me from the back of a pick up truck. (I’m not sure if candy throwing is a nationwide custom in the states, but it definitely is in Des Moines) Besides the fact that my candy bucket was empty at the end of the event, it also differed in that it was a moving event. Yes I know parades are supposed to move. But I have never been to one where the crowd travels as well. It was definitely my exercise for the day.
2 The weather is never what it seems. I walked out of the house in a sweatshirt, jeans, and boots, wondering if maybe I should grab my coat as well. By the time I got to the fila, there wasn’t a single cloud in the sky and I was heatin’ up. The beginning of it went right down the coast, and it was torture to have to stare into the cool blue sea while I was melting away in the hot sun. Tuesday it might be 70 and sunny, and Thursday it might be freezing and misty. Good luck dressing yourself if you ever visit this bipolar city.
3 Uniforms. When we walked up to the street where it was being held, I actually got a little creeped out. Not that the uniforms are creepy- ever since I started watching Gossip Girl I have wished that I went to a school with uniforms. But when every uniformed student gets together and walks in time to the same drumbeat, that’s when I get a little antsy.
4 The dogs were put here solely for my entertainment. 60 orderly high school students marching in neat rows, and a confident street dog strolling right next to them. It was really all I could do to choke back a laugh. The little guy was just lookin around at the crowd like “no really I go to this school.” Like he was walking with the rhythm and everything. I’m still a little confused as to why no one even got half a chuckle out of that. Which is why I decided they are definitely only here for my own joy and amusement.
5 Lines. One of my first thoughts, before “winter boots were a bad idea,” was “this is the most organized line I have ever seen in this country.” I get a specific kind of anxiety when I walk up to a line here. They’re a mess. But somehow they are all on the same page when it comes to who’s in front of who. I get so concerned that they’ll all know that I don’t belong because of the way I approach their line. In the states, if you cut someone in line, you can trust that they will let you know. Here, either people don’t really care that much or never have that issue. Because somehow in that mess of a line there is total tranquility. It is the most organized disorganization of people I’ve ever seen. But the parade was different. Everyone was together, and everyone was in their order. There’s a certain beauty to that level of coordination.
It was a lovely event and a fun way to celebrate Chile’s victory 35 years ago. Special shoutout to my host bro for being “el jefe” for his high school and leading the march, job well done.