In Chile, September is no ordinary month; it’s a time to celebrate the country’s independence, play traditional games, dance the cueca (the national dance), and enjoy a sheep asado (barbeque).
This year in Valle Chacabuco, home of the future Patagonia National Park, students, teachers, families, and CP workers gathered for all that and more, along with special guests from neighboring Cochrane, including Governor Ana Maria Mora and Mayor Patricio Ulloa.
“The idea of the celebration was to allow for the children to know and value the traditions of our country,” said Alejandra Barvadid, director and professor at the Valle Chacabuco School. “It’s especially important for us as we live in an isolated place far from the cities.”
Students performed dances from different parts of Chile such as: la cueca from the center, el trote nortino and guaino from the north, and the samba resbalosa from the island of Chiloe in the south. There was also a representation of a traditional Mapuche ceremony.
“[We wanted to] to reinforce the qualities that the children of Valchac have,” said Professor Carol Mansilla. “To help them act in front of a public, to demonstrate their artistic capacities.”
Employees of CP also got involved in the festivities: on top of leading students in daily recitals, Mansilla founded a folklore group. In the future we hope to hear more from this Valchac original!
Where some sing, others dance.
In keeping with idea of celebrating different cultures in Chile, a life-size mural adorned the stage, each figure painted over a series of weeks. The mural was a collaborative effort between employees Jaime Ganga, José Foitzick, Fernando Muñoz, Maria Jesus May, and Dana De Greff.
There was a presentation of “Odes to Chile;” all original, in English and performed by the students themselves.
The event was also an occasion to honor a few special men; the puesteros.
“The puestero is an important person for the park because they’re protectors of the wildlife and protect specific areas (of the park),” Barvadid said. “It’s a solitary job and they give up a lot and we wanted to value that publicly.”
After the show was finished, guests and participants mingled and enjoyed an asado al palo, prepared by employees of CP.
“This was the first time anything like this was done,” said Mansilla. “[We did it] so that our coworkers and the workers of Valchac could enjoy something special.”