To say that September kind of kicked my butt is putting it mildly. Between Hurricane Irma and bronchitis, I had had enough and was beyond happy to see October. And what better way to celebrate than with the annual Mil Tambores (Thousand Drums) Festival in Valparaíso?
The day before, I had finally met my friend Hanna in person, and delivered to her some of the goodies (Stovetop stuffing and pure pumpkin for Thanksgiving pie-making – and York Peppermint Patties!) that she requested I bring back from the States. She and some friends were headed to the festival the next day (when the sun was scheduled to shine) and asked if I’d like to come along. Sounded like a perfect idea.
Several of us met up in Viña and took the micro into Valpo for the afternoon. We walked quite a ways from where the bus dropped us off, and then kept walking once we got inside the street where the event was being held.
I did not know what to expect. I was happily surprised to find a celebration full of music and dancing. Drum groups come from all over Chile to celebrate this annual spring festival. This was exactly what I needed to pull myself out of the September blues!
The street followed the waterfront of this port city, which was lined with people selling food, jewelry, magnets and body painting. The food was typically Chilean – lots of empanadas of every sort alongside plenty of ceviche and ice cream – and lots of random people who had brought a tupperware of something to sell. I have found this so common in Chile – people making things at home and selling them on the streets, at festivals, on public transport. I think the FDA would have a heart attack to see so much unregulated and untested food for public sale.
But that is just the way it is. As with anything, you take your chances. On this particular Sunday, we all enjoyed our treats with no nefarious side effects.
The music was fantastic. I had no idea that drums could all be so different. Each group that walked by created a distinct and fun beat. It reminded a very little bit of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade – no balloons, of course – but musical groups one right after another, walking along the street as they played for the crowd.
The crowd seemed to be having as much fun as the musicians. Many people danced along in the street. I joined in, happy not to feel self-conscious. Usually I am the only person dancing to music (without being on the dance floor). Here, everyone does it, and they are all smiling too!
What a lovely day out. The sun was shining; the temperature was perfect and the fresh air was just what I needed.
Getting out of the festival proved slightly challenging. It took me a full hour to walk the length of the route back, because of the crush of people attempting to move in both directions. I was surprised that no one became frustrated or angry. We all just kept moving along in the sea of people. So I relaxed along with everyone else, and eventually made my way home. How happy was I to finally reach the metro and sit down! 🙂
Hope you enjoy the pictures!