Do you ever have an event that you have been to in the past and as the years pass it starts to build up in your memory as the greatest thing ever? Have you had a chance to go back and re-experience that event? Did it live up to the memory?
When I did my study abroad in 2006, my Mom and I stumbled across the Fiesta de Vendimia Curico (Wine Festival). It was the most magical two days of my life when we were there. We sampled the wines, food, and entertainment throughout the beautiful Plaza de Armas they have in the center of their city. My mom and I have our souvenir glasses that we sampled our wine with at home. Every time they come out, we will reminisce about our amazing experience.
We couldn't line up our trip in 2008 to go to the Festival but we were bound and determined to make sure we went this time. Because the festival doesn't release the dates of the festival until about a month ahead, we had to scramble to make everything work out (don't even get me started on how I stalked the festival for months including calls to every hotel and store I could think of to find out the dates. It was like Fort Know and those dates were locked down).
After all my planning, fantasizing and dreaming about this festival, my balloon got popped. Lesson learned you can't recreate your perfect experience. Everything I loved about the Festival apparently got out and about 4 times the amount of people were there to get the experience. It was wall to wall people that we could barely get through.
It started off pleasant enough. We had a nice stroll from the Hostal Centro we were staying at. We found the first ATM of the trip after finally finding out the word for it (caja automatico in case you were wondering). There were lots of confused faces as I was trying to use out my rusty basic Spanish to find that ATM. Once we replenished our Pesos, we were ready to head into the festival.
The vendors on the side streets were just starting to set up. I couldn't figure out if this guy was selling the puppets or looking for donations. After the puppet would do his dance, he would put his hat out to collect the money. I guess a true entrepeuner gets money both ways.
We entered into kid's alley. They offered a bracelet for $1,000 Pesos (sounds fancy doesn't it? It actually cost about $2) and the bracelet had these velcro strips. Each time the child did an activity, a strip would be taken off (I think there were about 10 strips on the bracelet). Gabrian totally scored because they never took the strips off his bracelet until the end of the night so it was almost unlimited rides for him.
We came across our favorite entertainers ever. We found them again in Santiago (well it probably wasn't them but someone that does the same craft). They wear the drums on their back and their is a string attached to their foot and the drum. They also have two drum sticks and they whirl around while playing music. The adults were so impressive but the little kids truly amazed me with their coordination. I could seriously watch them for hours and never get bored.
We ventured into the main part of the festival and that is where it started to go downhill for us. It had so many people that we couldn't get close to anything. We couldn't get near the food stands without standing in lines 30 people deep. We couldn't find out where to buy the wine glasses which in the end didn't matter because the crowd was so thick around the wine booths we couldn't even see which vineyards were there. We were able to browse the craft vendors but it never felt like it was worth fighting the crowd to get back and buy anything.
We tried to get our bearings in the plaza but it just wasn't happening for us. It felt like no matter which direction we headed in, we were going against the crowd. It just wasn't fun and just like that my dream festival was over.
We fought the crowds to get back to the kids area where Gabrian could use his bracelet a little longer. Then we made our sad walk home to the Hostel.
After all is said and done, I actually would try going to the Festival again. I wouldn't plan a trip around it again and I definitely would not do a Friday night again. I think we would try it on an afternoon when hopefully it would be less crowded. I am sure somewhere in there is my dream festival just waiting for me.