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Drums, Protests, And Strollers In La Serena, Chile

It sounds like a million marching bands that are all drumming at the same time. Oh, and there are very large speakers involved. It is after 10pm, and I just lied down in bed, and closed my eyes.

Boom! Boom! CRASH! BANG! BANG-BANG-BANG-BANG. Cue really loud music. Dogs barking. I count at least three different barks. Someone rings our apartment door bell and runs away.

I sigh and get out of bed.

It’s a Friday night. We are told that Friday nights is when protests take place. Either that, or there is a beach party on the main strip. Or a concert. I imagine those things would all sound very similar. Lots of people. Music. And an occasional burning car.

We are also told to stay away from main squares and places where crowds gather on Friday nights. And on nights in general. Normally, that would be a drag, but in the land of lame, there is no one lamer than toddler parents.

“The eagle lands” at 7pm, and if you are lucky, you manage to stay awake for couple of extra hours, while watching Netflix, sipping on Sav Blanc and finally eating something without little hands pulling EVERYTHING out of your mouth. Although with me around, Italian does not really get that break either. I call it “the wife tax”. He calls me “the food hound”.

Whatever is happening right now – a protest, a concert, or a dance party – I am not sleeping in the immediate future. Our building is not even twenty feet from the main beach strip, where everything happens. And, apparently, in La Serena, life begins at 9pm.

I decide to put on some pants, and actually go check the damn thing out. I mean if the drums are going to keep me up, I should at least see the marching band. Italian doesn’t put up much of a fight, only makes me promise that I won’t start “yet another revolution”.

The “protest” turns out to be six teenagers with drums. I have no idea how they manage to sound THAT loud. Meanwhile, the beach strip is FILLED with hundreds of people, eating ice cream, standing in line to get into night clubs, and pushing strollers with babies and kids of various ages and in varying stages of consciousness. This is really more Santa parade meets sand castles than anything resembling an uprising.

The presence of strollers has been one indicator of okayness that I’ve been using while in Chile. One of the most reassuring things about parenting to me is that many many people have done it before me. I am not the first with motherly instincts or unconditional love, or whatever else comes with the bundle of joy. Other mothers with strollers are just as interested in making sure they and their children are safe. So… I look for strollers.

Italian texts every few minutes.


“Did you find the drums?”

He is mostly just making sure I am not about to join the marching band, I think. Stranger things have happened.

Instead, I make my way to a little night market, and hand 2,000 Chilean pesos to a guy wearing a face mask. His companion flips a long swirl of churro in boiling oil, pulls it onto a flat sheet of waxed paper, and cuts equal length strips of gold pastry with scissors. He picks out eight strips, sprinkles them with powdered sugar, wraps them up in a napkin, and hands them to me.

I head home to split the churros with Italian over a cup of tea, and then try sleeping one more time.

Hugs, SOLO


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