After New Year’s Eve in Pichidangui 2007/2008, I had high expectations for New Year’s Eve in Taltal.
Not knowing what to expect, we had made some advanced enquiries – first at Club Taltal where we had learned that the fireworks would be set off at midnight on the hill above ‘the Taltal Flyer’, the little steam loco and two carriages that remain as a memorial to the local railway service. To be able to join in with the festivities, the staff explained that they would open thirty minutes earlier than usual at 19:30! And close at 21:00. Great, we would not be hungry leaving 2010.
We turned up at 19:45 but everything was still shut. We looked at other options: Las Brisas, the fish restaurant at the end of town was closed; Las Brasas, the ‘new’ find tried on 30 December had said that they would be closed and only re-open on 4 January. The new ‘sometimes open’ restaurant opposite Hotel Plaza had its doors open but all the chairs were stacked on top of the tables, suggesting ‘closed’. Not keen on a rumbling stomach New Year’s Eve we walked back towards the square and were very pleased to see the staff of Club Taltal turn the corner to open the restaurant at their regular time of 20:00 – the routine is just too deeply ingrained.
It was only 22:00 hrs as we left, fully fed and watered (wined) when we were back on the Plaza – the ONLY people on the Plaza – where was everybody? We decided to go back to the Hotel where I promptly fell asleep.
Juan was good enough to wake me at 23:30 and within minutes the four of us were walking towards the Taltal Flyer. The streets were still empty, but there were now Guy Fawkes type dummies along the road – either stuck on small bikes, too small for previous owners or on stakes with very surprised looks on their faces. The UK has a tradition to do something similar on 5th November – Fireworks Night – when dummies of Frenchman Guy Fawkes are set on fire to commemorate his attempt to blow up the Houses of Parliament in 1605 as part of The Gunpowder Plot.
We reached the Taltal Flyer and stood around with twenty or so other people who, prompted by their mobile phones, suddenly started to kiss each other and wishing each other Feliz Nuevo Año!
And that was that. We walked back over the Plaza, but apart from a dozen policeman hugging each other as they passed on best wishes to each other.
Back at the Hotel there was a family party in progress. I went to bed and went straight to sleep again. Others complained that the party went on until early in the morning.
Happy New Year everyone!