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October 16, 1997 - Image 18

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1997-10-16

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.


8- The Michigan Daily Weltendi Magazine - Thur~ay, October 16, 1997

The Michiganaily Weekend M




Festival of the

Virgin of Carmen

Clockwise from left: Statue of the Virgin of
Carmen; Festival dancer in front of Virgin statue;
Local police rush a pilgrim to rest after he had
fainted crawling to the. church's Virgin altar; Festival
dancer rests in the Plaza in front of the church; A
pilgrim displays festival adornment in the Plaza; A
group of dancers perform a musically accompanied
ritual dance in the plaza as they approach the
church altar.

Travel Log: Aug. 17
Chile - Region 1, Tarapaci

Photostory by
Emily Nathan

After meeting up with Diego and Manolo in Calama, I ended up hitchhiking with an American named Michael to La Tirana. The wide emptiness of the
desert checkpoint of Pozo was illuminated with a weaving trail of lights. The trail staggered upwards. Thousands of cars, trucks and buses filled with
dancers, pilgrims and tourists were heading for La Tirana to commune for the midnight parade for the martyred Virgen de Carmen. Informed that tourists
were often robbed, Michael and I descended from the higher inland mountains to the coastal town of Iquique through dense fog, in a white VW Bug, to
drop off our backpacks. After meeting a friend's roommate from Santiago, we headed back up to La Tirana in a cab around 4:30 a.m. - late for the fire-
works and parade, but fine in terms of the traffic, which had twirled on the fulcrum of midnight's activity. As we walked to the central plaza, which dis-
plays the cathedral, many groups of Virgin-worshipping dancers slowly passed us, wheeling heavy, lit-up statues of Mary back to the festival encampment.
I eventually slept, sitting back against the wall, on the floor of the church. It was too cold for much sleep; I woke early to watch the sun and thousands of
pilgrims rise. The sky swam from black to deep, dark blue until a lighter jay blue overtook the eastern horizon. Groups warmed their hands around small
fires and watched cooks deep-fry sopaipilla for breakfast. A few men swept the plaza clear of garbage and the local newspaper vendors began hawking
their papers. The new day was inaugurated as morning hymns blasted from the speakers raised above the four corners of the square.

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