Saturday, January 30, 2010

La Pequeña Gigante in Santiago

This little lady's been snarling up traffic downtown since who knows when.

la pequeña gigante2 (from my window)

Today is Saturday, a light-traffic day here in Santiago, and moreso because it's summer. And yet there is a line several blocks long of traffic along Manuel Rodriguez, which serves as the service road for the 5 Sur, or the Panamerican Highway, as you may know it. Traffic is a mess today, as it was yesterday, and I think tomorrow will be the same.

La Pequeña Gigante (pictured above) is a mobile art performance that lumbers down the street and has everyone's knickers in a knot. She's gigantic, and you really don't have to be that close to see her, but everyone and their brother was in Plaza La Constitución last night, watching her sleep. A sleeping puppet! Now that's exciting!

It's really a testament to how much people want to play make believe. People talk about her like she's real. I ran into a friend of mine near here yesterday and asked him what he was doing. "Oh, I came to see the doll," he said. This is a serious person, a guy who trains for 8-hour mountain bike races day in and day out, a new father, a doting husband. And he came to see a puppet. Sleeping.

I asked some other people if they were coming back the next day, and they excitedly told me about how the doll wakes up at 10, and how her uncle (even bigger, some 30 m high) was coming to see her. Because every giant puppet should have an even more giant puppet uncle. Wouldn't you?

She has a jam-packed schedule of walks and naps and visits with her uncle, and the whole area downtown is turned inside out with crowds and excitement and really poor crowd control and people selling pictures of the marionette, or if not, soda, bags of confetti or Chilean flags. I don't think we've gotten a count yet, but the last time she was here, 700,000 people came out to take a slack-jawed peek.

Even a jaded bearshapedsphere has to admit that it's pretty great to see all these people lining up (ha, I mean crowding together) to catch a glimpse of something truly extraordinary, kids in tow and fingers pointing and generally laughing and enjoying the spectacle. But I'd way rather see her from my window. Thank goodness for the "penguin lens." (or as some to call it, the zoomcito).

If you're trying to catch her, here's a summary (in Spanish) of what she's up to today: La Pequeña Gigante. Apparently she'll be taking a siesta a little later in the day. And so should we all.


Abby said...

Soon after I first arrived in Chile in 2007, she came for the first time. I was SO confused. Everyone was so excited about her and I just couldn't fathom it. I thought it was some sort of weird traditional Chilean culture thing to adore and personify gigantic wooden puppets. Last night I was at an asado and a huge topic of conversation was what La Pequeña had done yesterday. Serious stuff, these puppets.

lydia said...

oh neat, thanks, someone mentioned her yesterday and i was confused to what they're talking about ( i had it confused with some large reverse-marionette type puppets that wander around valpo sometimes where there is a person inside a huge puppet with poles for them to guide the arms and such.

i dunno how much watching her specific actions would amuse me (especially sleep) but worth catching a glimpse of what its all about i suppose.

julie said...

I loved this. Love your description of people's reaction to her. Just fantastic!

Kristin said...

Hahaha, reading her "itinerary" it does seem she spends an inordinate amount of time napping. lol

Annje said...

That is so interesting! I love that people follow her around. I was there with the "woman in a glass house" social experiment. They set up a glass house downtown, a few blocks from La Moneda, where a woman lived for a while and went about all of her business right in front of everyone. If you can imagine the crowds that gathered there!!...

Margaret said...

Leave it to Eileen to find the other side of this whole phenomenon! I really wanted to go see her (preferably awake though), but am not big on crowds. My husband thinks the whole idea is kind of creepy (monstruoso I believe he said)... so I guess that puts him more in the Bearshapedspherical side of this giant coin!

Sharon said...

I saw both puppets yesterday. It was a pretty amazing show. That morning they said there were around 3 million people on the streets. It was pretty crowded, mostly with people who don't give a damn about being civil to other people. But the puppets were cute.