A Moment in Valle de Elqui
Valle de Elqui Day Tour from La Serena, Chile
I was taking the photos above when a man tapped my shoulder and pointed across the plaza. A parade of people were walking by, clapping, singing, followed by three cars decorated in orange balloons. I moved away to be closer and, as they walked by, saw that the first of the cars was carrying a coffin.
A funeral procession was leading its way through Plaza de Armas.
The parade stopped in front of the sculpture I had just been taking photos of. The cars stopped. People gathered around to remove the coffin and set it up.
A man stood in front of the sculpture and gave a speech that resulted in roaring applause. A saxophone player played a song on the outskirts of the crowd.
It was a memorial for the sculptor, George Nobl, A Hungarian man who lived there in Vicuña and had passed away earlier in the week.
I watched, from a short distance, for as long as I could until I had to meet my tour group and move on.
I had decided to take a day tour of Chile’s Valle de Elqui instead of doing it on my own, as I’d originally planned. I was growing tired of figuring out buses, or finding places to stay. This was easier and took me to all the places and more than I’d go to on my own: Vicuña, Pisco Elqui, a pisco plant, a craft beer tasting, a solar-powered restaurant.
If I had gone on my own, I could have stayed and watched the memorial until it was done. But if I had gone on my own I probably wouldn’t have been in Vicuña at that moment anyways.
There was more to the tour, of course, than that moment in the park. And that moment was in no way part of the tour. But, over the years, I probably won’t remember how the pisco tasted. I probably won’t remember whether I chose the turkey or the goat from the solar-powered oven. I won’t remember any of the names of any of the people on that tour. I won’t remember the random stops for random photos. But I will probably remember watching that memorial.