Tuesday (Martes) 25th May, 2010
Day 438

Tilcara, Argentina
Tilcara, Argentina
Miles: 44,608
S 23.57601°
W 65.39991°

Today is the big day, 25 de Mayo - Argentine Bicentennial.

In the campground this morning we got the first taste of the days festivities. Men dressed in traditional gaucho garb were warming up their horses for the parade. As we would discover they were probably a bit premature as their part of the parade was not until well after noon.

About 10:30 we walked the short distance to the main square and waited around listening to the interminable speeches with the rest of the crowd and sampling some of the empanadas on sale everywhere. The parade eventually got underway and for a number of hours we were treated to numerous local school groups "marching" past the square. It was more than a little surprising to see how many schools and children there were in this region. The parents of the marching children were like parents everywhere - with their cameras out they raced along beside their darlings trying to get a few thousand snaps to remember the day. We found the crowd at least as interesting as the marchers. Kids stuffing themselves with ice cream, parents trying to keep bored younger children amused, men dressed in gaucho walking around (with knives in their belts) greeting each other with kisses and chatting, and everywhere food vendors. In a way the scene was both exotic, but strangely familiar - for all the differences not unlike a parade in any country town. Eventually the sun got to be too much for us and we headed back to the campground for some relief. It was only once back at the campground we got to see the gauchos in any numbers. Many of them were meeting at the campground after the parade for a barbecue. So we got to see many men in balloon pants, and ladies in bright blue dresses riding on their ponies. They gave displays of their riding prowess whilst riding their animals around the campground.

A really interesting day and we were pleased that, by accident, we spent the 25th in a small town.