Glad we took in the New Year’s celebrations last night as it gave us a chance see a local event. From little ones in strollers to grandparents packing picnics in thermal zip up boxes to young people with chips and pop in plastic grocery bags, folks gathered by the thousands in what was probably a fairground. A brightly lit stage was a small rectangle in the distance, music blaring.
Small, tight dresses, ruched denim, rock and roll and rude t-shirts, chinos and short-sleeved plaid shirts all commonly accessorized with plastic bowler hats in sparkly purple or red or gold and trimmed with a long fringe of tinsel “hair”. Some people wore more elaborate gear from Egyptian-styled headdresses to lamé or multicolored Mad Hatter top hats. Headbands with flashing purple cat ears, hats with stars and fuzzy wigs were also common.
People passed around bottles of cava; one family brought a jug of Pisco sours, foamy with egg white, which they drank from plastic stemware.
Everyone had come for the fireworks which were set off from an area behind metal stockade fencing only yards away from where we happened to be standing. At first this offered an excellent view of what started out as a “nice little show,” but by the time the explosions evolved into a sustained and impressive spectacle, the clouds of flashing gunpowder sent ashes and cinders raining down on us and the people around us. No one cared. We just exchanged smiles as we brushed the grit from our faces.
The entire crowd sang along with the recording of the national anthem. A few songs later, a small group beside us started up a folk dance.
Once the crowd had whooped and whistled its last, we headed back to the hotel. On the way, we stopped at a tiny convenience store where the proprietor sliced ham for us to eat as a picnic with crackers and bananas on a park bench down the street. Only one of the many mild mannered feral dogs roaming the streets followed us into the park. She lay politely off to the side, eyes closed, alert but careful not to be a bother, waiting for scraps.
Our taxi home took on a couple of young women en route as extra passengers, ending the night with a final touch of local custom. And thus, 2013 begins.