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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.