Hello everyone and Happy New Year! I’m a little bit late for this New Year’s post, but we’ll just blame that on the jet lag. This year, I can say that I spent New Year’s Day in two hemispheres. At midnight, we watched a spectacular fireworks show put on by the city of Antofagasta over the Pacific. The show lasted nearly a half hour and was a definite crowd-pleaser.
Earlier in the day on the 31st, I took a (slow) walk around town in the hot summer afternoon. I noticed that the streets and sidewalks were emptier than usual. When we went out to get dinner, we were surprised that even the fast-food restaurants (pizza places, McDonalds) were closed for dinner. We found the one restaurant that was open, a Chinese place. We were a bit abashed: in the U.S. and Canada, New Year’s Eve is certainly one of the busiest nights of the year for restaurants. Of course, we should have assumed things would not be the same. (How many times have I said that since August?)
It became apparent why the city had been empty all day at about 10:30 pm that night when everyone of all ages started flooding the streets and sidewalks, walking towards the water with noisemakers, decorations and coolers filled with snacks: everyone must have been napping earlier that day! Of course.
The fireworks started off a whole night of partying. After midnight, the streets were as busy as rush hour as families and revelers went to neighbours’ houses for meals and parties and bars and restaurants opened to serve patrons all night long.
The next day, we walked to the beach and were stunned by the mess in the streets, sidewalks, parks and beaches: mounds of glitter, streamers, confetti, balloons, empty silly-string cans and broken wine and champagne bottles were littered everywhere. (I’m surprised there weren’t more cars pulled over on the side of the road with flat tires). One city street cleaning worker was pitifully trying to broom up a small patch of glitter, a lost cause in the miles and miles of waste from the previous night’s revelries.
We left for Canada the afternoon of the 1st. Our taxi driver informed us that most parties had ended that morning at 8 or 9 am. I hoped that our airline pilots were not one of the revelers who had a sleepless night!
We left hot weather (and I with a sunburn) and promptly arrived in subzero temperatures 22 hours and nearly 5,000 miles later.
I’ll be in Quebec for the next few weeks, but I thought I might take advantage of this blog to give you all a little wintery taste of “la belle province” before I return to Chile and continue to blog about my adventures down there for the remainder of 2012.