Well if September has been filled with the slow but steady build-up then last weekend witnessed the long-awaited festival we had all been waiting for... Friday afternoon and there was frenzied party shopping going on at our local Jumbo (supermarket). Aisles were looking empty, faces ashen as contents were swept off the shelves in anticipation of the big two-day consumer shutdown (18-19 September) during which time it was not possible to be a functioning public business due to national law declaring two days of state-enforced festivities. Hence the crowds, many of whose trolleys were actually full of raw meat, beer and/or fizzy drinks in preparation for goodness knows how many barbecues or "asados" not just across the city but nationwide to mark the festival of "Chilenidad" (being Chilean) as well as heralding officially the slightly earlier than usual advent of spring.
There was a rare hush in the streets as people enjoyed their long weekend, in or outside the city, partaking in the aforementioned barbecues in private and public while also seizing the opportunity to fly kites in the light but capricious spring breezes prevailing over Chile's beautifully verdant landscape. By far the most popular pastime was that of the "fonda" or special fair in the numerous parks and green spaces, huge events organised and promoted by the city's town councils offering a veritable multitude of delights for families, young and old alike. We saw and participated in pony rides, boat rides, funfairs and food whilst also admiring mock battles, rodeos, parachutists, traditional dancers and farm animals including a litter of one-day-old silky smooth piglets... All-in-all a feast for all the senses, a reason to be jolly and a sense of what Chileans consider and celebrate as their own.