As It Turns Out Fireworks Do Not Photograph Well: Navidad In The Land Of Tranquility

Who could have predicted that the rogue state calling itself the land of the free could be so handily outdone in the fireworks department by Montevideo? The Untied States of colonies en clice tries to celebrate its Independence Day, The New Year, and sporting occasions with modest controlled pyrotechnic displays. The march of regulation after regulation has left all but the most pathetic fireworks the domain of licensed and permited professionals with only the most pathetic of celebratory explosives allowed to the common "free" man.

By contrast Navidad in Montevideo consists of a valiant sustained effort on the part of the ciudadanos here to deny Uraguayan airspace to Papa Noel. A concise timeline of events is collected below:

  • Between Miercoles and Jueves the hippies peddling bongs and other paraphenelia from blankets spread on the sidewalk were displaced by pop up shelters peddling assorted fireworks. I did not investigate the wares as closely as I could have, but I noted the size of many items were impressive even compared to what could be acquired in Missouri.
  • The presence of these impromptu temples of capitalism peaked on the morning of Domingo. The feria at Tristan Narvaja was especially well attended and the few permanent retail establishments who chose to open on Domingo the 24th did brisk business. On the walk back fireworks stands gradually began to disappear as they sold out of their wares.
  • A las 20:00 the tranquility here began to be punctuated by occasional pops of small fireworks the intensity and frequency of the explosions was sporadic the next few hours.
  • A las 23:00 sustained explosions began and occurred at an accelerating rate. The first minutes of the 25th were nearly deafening but somehow still muy tranquilo porque Montevideo. The sky lit up and the speed of the fireworks show tapered very gradually through 2:00 where the ambulances could finally be heard amid the explosions.
  • On the night on the 25th the rest of the explosive were festively detonated in a more subdued display that still beats  US firework oriented holidays.

The impressive, sustained display from every direction dwarfed anything experienced in the Untied States, and if such a thing were attempted it is likely an incredible number of the local stick build homes, apartments, and commercial buildings would have been lost. Not so in Montevideo where it seems every building no matter how humble is constructed of brick, block, or most frequently poured reinforced concrete. Numerous concrete pumping trucks, specialist equipment in the United States, frequent the construction and renovation sites of Montevideo. El edificios aca tienen huesos!1

Latino Christmas gets a thumbs up.


  1. Which leads to substantial wondering about how differently Home Depot would have to structure its merchandising to be relevant here. Perhaps a trip to the suburbs to explore one of the local equivalents is in order some time?  

3 thoughts on “As It Turns Out Fireworks Do Not Photograph Well: Navidad In The Land Of Tranquility

  1. I haven't seen LATAM grade fireworks since…leaving LATAM for good. Acá no se consiguen, lo único que hay son luces de bengala (ask your Spanish teacher about those).

    Si le gustaron los fuegos artificiales del 24… los de año nuevo van a ser mejores. Las horas mencionadas arriba coinciden con lo que yo recuerdo.

    From my life v1.0 I remember some of the stuff sold:
    1) Fosforito: picture gigantic matches, they operate similarly. Big noisy explosions.
    2) Cohetones: these had a little supporting cane so you could place them in your baranda before lighting them up with either item 1, a cigarette, kitchen lighter… The fly very high and make a big explosion.
    3) Torta: It looks like a cake, enough said. It has plenty of whistling fireworks which end in colourful explosions. Light and leave allowing plenty of clearance.
    4) Silbador: there are various versions of these. You can have one like item 2, but it will whistle during its whole flight, then explode with multiple colours.
    5) Luces de bengala: this stuff is for small kids. Lots of sparkles, no explosions. Available in local supermarkets here (sometimes, mebbe).

    These incidents happen with some frequency: https://www.nytimes.com/es/2016/12/22/los-fuegos-artificiales-y-su-sombria-historia-de-accidentes-en-america-latina/

    Y si, los edificios/casas tienen huesos, no están hechos de carton/cartulina. Las fundaciones, columnas y piso son generalmente de concreto reforzado, las paredes están hechas de ladrillos. The locals don't like it when I use this phrase re local new constructions: "luxury cardboard apartments".

    Not sure about Home Depot, but the local equivalent is not very different to what I saw back there. Here they sell more items, so the win is for my new home.

    Saludos

  2. For a while I walked down the city streets while hawkers keep trying to sell something with a long name. I had no idea what it was, until one day seated for coffee it suddenly exploded colorfully in my brain! Espantasuegra, bitch! Comes from espantar, ie, to scare, like Italian spaventa', and suegra, which is to say mother in law. Ha-HA!

    Pity I don't have one, I'd have bought a bagful.

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