If you’re old enough to read this blog, you know the drill—gather in a popular square or a main avenue, grab a few party accessories and drinks, walk around or secure a spot if the crowd is dense, stare at the sky with growing impatience for the last fifteen minutes of the year, count down the last few seconds until the clock strikes midnight, shout out something meaningful like “yay” or “hoorah,” kiss someone (preferably a person you know) and watch the show you came to see.
And this is pretty much how we spent the final two hours of 2017—although, come to think of it, I didn’t get my New Year kiss.
Mark remembered that last year, we bought him a “spray”—i.e. “silly string” spray—so this year he wanted it again. In fact, the fireworks were completely irrelevant, Mark was obviously here just to cover the sidewalk with plastic string.
At 10:30 p.m., we joined the crowd on Avenida Libertador General Bernardo O’Higgins armed with three cans of spray and a can of Coke, and we waited for the Entel Tower fireworks show. There were guys selling beer out of backpacks, unidentifiable skewers of meat being grilled on BBQs set up on supermarket carts, entire families having dinner on plastic tables in the middle of the avenue and thousands of people wearing giant fake glasses and colourful hats taking selfies.
And then, the show started. It was long—17 minutes!—, impressive, and loud.
When I was having my hair cut a couple of days ago, I read a bunch of New Year wishes—presumably made by stylists or customers—handwritten on small pieces of paper taped to the back wall of the salon. “More money, please!” one read. “Getting married this year!” “Winning the lottery!” “Finding love!” I found the display moving because the wishes felt both very personal and very relatable. Here I was, just off an Air Canada plane that had landed three hours earlier, 9,000 km from one place I call home and 11,600 km from another place that was home, getting immersed in a new culture… and wishes made by Chileans felt a lot like wishes a Canadian, a French, an American or a Chinese could make.
No matter where we live on the planet, we wish for love, we wish life could be a bit easier, we wish we could be a bit luckier.
We’re all the same, after all.
And just like that, the fireworks display ended, and just like that, a new year started.
I wish you luck, happiness, love and success for 2018!