Monday, September 13, 2010
Win This Book - for Chile's Bicentennial!
This coming Saturday and Sunday, September 18 and 19, are Chile’s two biggest holidays - and this year the Fiestas Patrias will be even bigger, as Saturday marks the de facto bicentennial of Chilean independence, as declared by a local junta that took over government in the name of Spain’s King Fernando VII in 1810. In reality, it was nearly eight years later - February 12, 1818 - that liberator Bernardo O’Higgins approved a formal declaration, and another 22 years before Spain finally acknowledged independence.
Still, the February declaration is barely an afterthought to the September festivities. When the dates fall during the week, Chileans often turn them into a four- or five-day mini-vacation during which they will dance the traditional cueca (pictured above), don the traditional huaso clothing (the huaso is Chile’s counterpart to the Argentine gaucho) of ponchos and flat-brimmed chupallas, ride their horses in rodeos, and gobble food and drink from ephemeral fondas (foodstands) erected in the streets and parks of Santiago and other cities. In fact, last week, Chile’s Congress voted to extend the holiday to include Friday the 17th and Monday the 20th for this year only.
Chile, of course, is a country still recovering from February’s calamitous earthquake and concerned with the drama of 33 miners stranded by a collapsed shaft near the northern city of Copiapó - as Chilean writer Ariel Dorfman put in context in a CNN opinion piece and an appearance on NPR’s "Talk of the Nation" earlier today. Still, this will be an overdue opportunity for rejoicing in the country’s accomplishments of the past two centuries.
Sunday’s Día del Ejército (Armed Forces Day) follows the official independence day and it’s worth mentioning that, despite their reprehensible role in the 1973 coup led by General Augusto Pinochet, respect for the Chilean military has not disappeared. There will be a well-attended, highly applauded Parada Militar (military parade) down the broad Alameda in Santiago, but it will be non-partisan in the pre-Pinochet tradition (this non-partisanship was less evident last Saturday the 11th, on the coup’s 37th anniversary, when police detained more than 200 demonstrators in Santiago).
Any bicentennial, of course, deserves fireworks but Chile has abundant natural fireworks in the form of the numerous active and dormant volcanoes that dot the Andes - just like the Cascade Range that stretches from Northern California into Canada. With that in mind, in honor of Chile's bicentennial, I will give away two copies of the current edition of Moon Handbooks Chile to the first readers who can tell me which of the volcanoes (pictured above and below) is from the Chilean Andes, and which is from the Cascade Range. Enter soon as this is, in my opinion, not a difficult quiz and should have a winner soon - after all, you've got a 50-50 chance - but only one entry per contestant please. Those who have won before should sit on their hands and let somebody have a chance.
In addition to those two copies, I will give away two more copies to the first contestants who can identify the volcanoes in question - a more difficult task. Please send all entries NOT to the comments section - I will delete those automatically - but to the email address in the header at the top of the page.