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This was the neon sign that greeted us at the entrance of Parque Iñes de Suarez in Providencia (not exactly the cheap seats) at the fonda. The neon sign depicts a man and woman dancing the cueca, which is the national dance. The whole dieciocho holiday is steeped in huaso (Chilean cowboy) traditions, harkening back to their version of the wild-west, kind of like how they made you dance the Virginia Reel in Brooklyn when you were a kid (or was that just me?).

But back to the fonda. fonda is the traditional 18th of Sept. festivities, which depending on the area of Santiago, or of Chile, each has its own special flavor. The flavor of this particular fonda is tame and family-oriented, which is perfect for me and my giant camera.

It’s kind of like a county fair without the county’s largest squash or funnel cake. Food abounded, including goat cheese, ostrich sausage, meat on a stick, empanadas, Mapuche specialties like frybread made out of the local pinenut flour (sopaipillas de piñon) and of course, everyone’s favorite (or at least the most easily photographed), little goats, served sweet.

Little goats. Also called doves in Ecuador. Cabritas, popcorn. This mother-and-daughter might be getting tired of serving the tiny goats already. But hopefully they’ll get some sleep and get home because this holiday goes through the weekend. That’s a lot of goats.

It was pretty cold out last night, so not alot of women or little girls wearing the traditional flowered dress with the white apron down the front. I saw a couple of chamanto (like a poncho) and chupalla (flat-brimmed hat)-dressed huasos-for-the-night, but my favorite hat-wearer was this man. Why wear one, when you can wear two?

And while this whole fonda in the spendy area of town is probably a little less rough than most Chileans have come to expect, it was so civil, so unpublicdrunkenness that I might just go back today. Though I won’t be able to see all the pretty they trotted out for the occasion. See?