Sunday, May 31, 2015

Día del Patrimonio Cultural

There is a brass band playing outside. Enthusiastically, if slightly off-key. They are celebrating Día del Patrimonio Cultural de Chile, a nation-wide festival which lasts, not just one day, but all weekend to honor the different dimensions of cultural heritage in Chile.

In my neighborhood, the brass band is here in conjunction with the bomberos, the fire department. They play a song or two. Then, the bomberos release a stream of water from an antique steam-powered water canon, shooting it high into the air to entertain the cheering crowds.

I spoke with one of the bomberos, wearing his official company uniform which was festooned with medals. He explained to me that this engine was one of the first "fire trucks" in Santiago. It has been lovingly preserved and is used only for celebrations like this one.

When I first moved here, four years ago, a bombero approached me on the street. He had a clipboard and asked me to sign up to give a monthly donation to the fire department. In Chile, firemen are not paid. They are all volunteers.

I didn't know this at the time, and I was a little leery of signing up. "Let me think about it," I told him.

"If we get an alarm for your apartment, we're not going to think about it before we come to rescue you."

I signed up as a donor that day. Living only a block or two from the fire station, I hear the alarm at least once a day. Luckily, it's never rung for me.

~~Sally Rose
Author of Penny Possible & A Million Sticky Kisses

No comments:

Post a Comment