It was a much fuller day than any of us anticipated, but spending it together as a family in the bright Iquique sunshine along with thousands of other parents and families made it a fun distraction from our normal routines.
Each year, the schools of Iquique are called upon to march in a parade along a section of the coastal highway running through town. In our kids' school only the 5th through 8th grade participate so previously we had not attended. However, this year Eva earned the right (and requirement) to be a part of the parade as a member of her school's Transit Brigade. She was very excited!
Although we were told to drop her off at a certain location at 11:30, more seasoned parents warned us that we would wait a couple of hours before she ever marched. And they were right! However we had not thought about the overall atmosphere being quite festive and the number of street vendors who would be hawking their wares along the way, which made the waiting rather interesting and enjoyable. Ian and Alec even met a certain purple dinosaur for the very first time:
It was interesting (and a bit confusing) how the various schools were told to line up on different intersecting streets and "merge" into the parade. We kept thinking Eva's group was coming up, only to see two or three more school banners mingle in and keep her school at bay. Perhaps the funniest moment was when a certain band started to step in. The kids were fascinated with the big pounding drums and clashing cymbals (Owen said the shiny golden cymbals were his favorite part of the parade!) We were standing close by when the band began to march into different formations, first walking one way, then the other, then crossing the meridian right where we were standing. We grabbed hands and quickly moved to avoid being trampled! But I guess you could say it just added to the thrill of the moment.
Finally Eva's group came forward and we followed her along the way. She had such a big smile and bounce in her step and was trying so hard to follow the rhythm of the motions they had been trained to do. We are so proud of her for her participation and so glad she has found something that she loves to do and that is making her bolder and stronger. It is amazing to us how Eva can overcome her fears when something really grabs her fancy, and that is certainly what the Transit Brigade has done.
When the school groups reached the bandstand area, they paused as the master of ceremonies shared all the pertinent information about each one: the name of the school; when it was started; where it was located; how many students it served; who the "sostenedor" or owner is; what extra-curricular workshops it offers. That was my "A-ha!" moment where I finally realized why the schools require this parade (the students in the grades who are required to attend will receive either a "7" or "A-plus" for participation or else they will receive a "1" or "F-fail" for lack of it.) Basically the parade is free advertising for the schools! I thought that was quite humorous and totally fitting with our experience in Chilean schooling so far. :)
Around 2 p.m. the ceremonies ended. We celebrated with an ice cream from a nearby vendor - a simple popsicle which tasted heavenly in the heat of day - and then headed home. One more adventure ended, many more yet to come!
video of Eva marching "live"