Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Dancing in the Desert

After almost five months of living in Antofagasta, I'm still not really sure how information is disseminated in my town. Or rather, I haven't managed to penetrate the local social web to the point of being one the cool kids who are "in the know." Although there are presumably some newspapers and websites devoted to this purpose, it seems that news of weekend events passes primarily by word of mouth.

Such was the case this past weekend, when the big local event was a free, if somewhat underground, concert by the legendary Chilean folk rock group Jaivas. I began to hear whispers of the concert midweek, and by the weekend, I had secured myself a ride out beyond the mountains that border the city and into the middle of the Atacama desert. We loaded up a car with the makings of a tecito picnic (white bread rolls, avocado, turkey, cheese and copious amounts of Escudo, the local beer) and our enthusiastic selves  (two chilenos and three backseat gringos) and we were off:

 We drove for about an hour through the twilight desert until we reached the site of an abandoned concentration camp from the dark years of the PiƱera dictatorship. The Jaivas were an activist musical group that underwent a voluntary exile to France in the late 70s, so their ghosttown setting was no accident. (They are also one of the only groups ever allowed to play a concert at Machu Picchu, since their music pays homage to indigenous heritage.) Here is a row of abandoned concentration houses that we drove past:
 A tree-turned-sculpture on-site served as a reminder of the suffering that had one taken place here:
 Once we arrived, we discovered that we weren't allowed to bring our cooler in, so, of course, we did what any resourceful, former college-students would do and stuffed copious cans of Escudo into our clothing.
With a jamon y queso con palta in one hand and a cerveza in the other, we watched the sun set over the desert, with a crowd that spanned generations murmuring in anticipation. As the moon rose, the band took to the stage with enthusiastic cheers. So began a epic nigh of desert dancing, with the metallic taste of copper-rich dust in my mouth (and all over my once-black shoes and once-blue jeans), the sounds of horns, pan flutes and charangos in my ears, and the chilean spirit in my swirling body.

 This was the "dance of the condor"--Chile's ubiquitous bird and national emblem. 

To end, here's a short clip from the show, to provide the full AV experience:


  1. What is the lovely desert drawing--line animal??

  2. Love it ! You go girl, too bad gay french man wasn't there to join in the dancin' with you :)

  3. Desert Safari Dubai i like the contents of this blog very much.