Rachael Wetzel is a student at Westminster College and is an ISA Classmates Connecting Cultures blogger corresponding with the study abroad office at Westminster. Rachael is currently studying in Valpariso, Chile on an ISA Fall 1 program.
Even though it might appear as such, I am not at Woodstock. Happy to inform you, I am at el hermoso Carnival de los Mil Tambores! The translation is the beautiful Carnival (think Mardi Gras, folks) of a Million Drums; and there quite literally were millions of drums. People come from every part of Chile (and other countries as well) for this grand three day festival to bring back the earth.
Most of the designs and symbols are to represent the beauty of nature and the festival is designed for everyone to resign all the modern day technologies that block us from experiencing the great wide open. Valparaiso has so much to offer and the inhabitants like to remember their past and rather than being pessimistic about modern day problems, they celebrate life all that is around them, the sun, the sky, the ocean, the mountains, the city, the beauty.
It would be impossible to not make friends at festivals such as this, everyone was just so happy and thankful and positive and having such a good time. The positive vibes were as abundant as the paint, and let me tell you, it takes a lot of paint to decorate all of Valparaiso!
In the crazy experience that was Mil Tambores, I had the beautiful gift of being interviewed, on national Chilean television, yes folks, in Spanish. I don’t remember much of what I said, but I responded quickly and with gusto, I was having so much fun, who has time to be embarrassed about their Spanish? I remember talking about how great it is to see such a united city and how there are not many festivals this positive in the States. But there certainly should be; music, art, paint, parades… what can be better?
Everything about this city reminds me of the beauty of life, whether it is as explicit as a festival like Mil Tambores or it is as simple as teaching a Chilean how to cook rice like we do in the States or stumbling upon a slackline festival and making new friends.
Life is beautiful, don’t you think so too? I know I do.