Issue 72: Festival Elevando Cometas y Volantines

Flying to raise hopes after earthquake

(Haga clic aquí para leer este artículo en español)

Hi friends, it’s me from La Serena, Chile … Wow!

You are wandering why? Because, to participate at a particular Kite Festival. The Festival which the target was helps Chilean victims of earthquake … Yes! Sport kites Can Help … in fact; pilots who practice this sport can help collecting money to others.

“Festival Elevando Cometas y Volantines – Elevando ilusiones tras el terremoto –16 y 17 de Abril de 2010 – La Serena – Chile “.   (Flying Kites and Volantines – Flying to raise hopes after earthquake – April 16 / 17 2010 – La Serena – Chile)

Where the ideas come from? The ideas started in March from Spain and Chile!
Have a look to “the fantastic´s four”…

Who is who from left to right?

Monica Cisternas Fierro:

She lives in La Serena since one year. She studied biotechnology at Chile´s University, and nowadays she is a housewife and proud mother of her son, Diego, age 7 and very smart boy. He seams a kind of scientist-paleontologist and footballer.

Monica said that one of the great things about living in La Serena City is the ability to enjoy outdoor life. She loves swimming and walking.

Fernando Valladares:

His nick name is Fernando V – (In Spanish “V”= Viento – means his wind´s passion). Fifteen years ago he started flying foils in family time, after that he begun to fly dual, one and quad lines. He is having fun practicing this sport and learning a lot from other experiment pilots and friends. His first festival was at Vitoria – Spain on 2008. Since then, he participated in others. She loves Windless Indoor, but he loves fly Multiple Kite. Nowadays he flies two dual lines and he is starting with three. Fernando is a researcher and professor at the “Universidad Rey Juan Carlos in Madrid”. He focuses on global ecosystem’s change effects and species within it. He born in Argentina and his parents migrate to Spain when he was 7. He told me that he has a half heart in the other corner of the world. His brothers; wife and three children enjoy and also suffer his compulsive and passionate job and hobbies. …“You know Gustavo, for me the time always seams short and also for those around me!”

…Me and …Christian Torres:

Christian was the man who said some words at the official Indoor Festival opening in order to explain what was the motivation and purpose. But the most important was that he worked as a pillar organizing all tasks that people do not usually seen at Festivals. I mean all tasks that it is necessary to achieve that seems easy to perform. Christian moved all around despite that people did not look too much. I had not opportunity to speak too much with him, we did not have time. But at the end of Festival at “La Barca” beach all of us, together took pictures each other to catch the lasting memory.

By the way, what about the nick names “The fantastic’s four”?

Maybe sounds immodest… but, what kind of nick name you can put to 4 crazy people who organize and participate in a festival that´s never seen before in Chile in a record time? In fact we thought two Festivals in one; windless indoor and outdoor. Imagine the face of the Chilean authorities, when Monica Cisternas Fierro and Christian Torres said them for the first time in a life:

“…Hi guys we want to organize a Kite Festival Indoor and Outdoor at the beach. We would like to collect money for victims of earthquake. So, we need your permission!”…

I´ll imagines that the authorities said with astounded:  Organize what? Can you repeat please?

Traditionally Chilean people fly mainly “Volantines”, on Patriotic dates. Is unusual fly acrobatics by them. Therefore, that’s the chance to do something different, something original in order to get the target. And it was possible when people have a conviction, in order to realize a great and laudable idea.

The plan was to do a Kite Festival that include two well-defined activities in order to assure success; indoor on Friday at gym and outdoor on Saturday at the beach.

In my opinion, Kites are the best way in order to generate enough synergy.

Well friends, now I would like to write some words about La Serena City:

La Serena is the Chilean City and commune in Elqui Province and Capital of the Coquimbo Region. Founded in 1544, it is the Country’s third City after-oldest Santiago and Arica. It is Located 471 km north of Santiago.

La Serena was founded by Spaniard Captain Juan Bohon in September 4, 1544 in order to be provided a sea link between Santiago and Lima Cities. In 1549 the Town was destroyed totally by local Indians and re-founded the same year by Captain Francisco de Aguirre in a safer location. The town has retained its historic architecture. The City become a significant tourist center, attracting many foreigners; most of them Argentines from San Juan and Mendoza Provinces during January. Mostly Chileans from Santiago goes on February. The main avenue along the beaches is “Avenida del Mar”, face on an amazing landscape. Its traditional architecture consists of a series of housing and public buildings, of late 19th-century, built with wood.

There are also a number of remarkable and valuable small churches built of sedimentary stone quarries, from 5 km to the north of the Elqui River, having a characteristic color and texture formed by small shells. These churches are all roughly 350 years old and have undergone restoration to varying degrees, their bringing them back to original form. The city is the headquarters of Universidad de La Serena and seat of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of La Serena. The Cathedral, built from stone, dates from the 19th century. It must be said although it that lacks the same historical value as the older churches, this is a stone building in a country prone to seismic activity, earthquakes and survived various. All of these churches, along with others of minor importance, provide a characteristic urban landscape, an image for the City, giving it the nickname “The City of Churches.”

The City is located mainly on oceanic several fertile terraces and small hills. A few of the major sectors are: El Centro (down town), Penuelas, San Joaquin, La Florida, Las Comunas, Cerro Grande, La Antena y El Milagro.

The climate in the city of La Serena is similar to nearby places in that clearly it is seasonal – in summer there is an absence of precipitation, but with abundant morning cloudiness and drizzle. These dissipate around noon, giving way to clear skies and hot. La Serena has beaches’ soft inclination, light sand and not so warm waters make lots of sports and recreational activities available. Facing it, there are some typical seafood restaurants. Also it’s considered the best surfing beach. Fortunately my trip was very pleasant; I arrived at La Serena airport on Friday 16 at morning. That day I got up very early, 4 AM to fly Santiago (DC).  From that I got the connection to La Serena City arriving at 11 AM. Monica and Fernando picked up from “La Florida” airport and went to “Colegio Alemán de La Serena” where I found a nice and huge gym to fly indoors!

I would like to say that “the fantastic´s four” never seen before in person until that great day. As you can see the three next days seemed very intense.
I would like to share with you Monica´s, Christian and Fernando´s thoughts about the activities:

Monica Cisternas:

Flying kites to Raise Hopes

I don’t know how to start my story…

I have lived in La Serena with my family for a year, after living eight happy years in Concepcion, one of Cities of the central valley most affected by the earthquake on the last 27th February. It was very distressing to see the disaster and not to be able to communicate with my loved ones. I remember that the idea of associating kites with solidarity emerged as a way of relieving my feeling of impotence, at being far away from relatives and dear friends. I stopped feeling like someone who mourns the tragedy at home and I felt I could help people at a distance. I also had a real possibility to help out. One of my family friends, Fernando Valladares, was coming to my City for academic purposes and I had been given the mission of finding a big building where he could fly kites indoors for pleasure. My will to help led me to ask him if I could charge people for watching his activity. He accepted immediately. The general idea at that moment was to raise funds to extend aid (food, clothes, etc) to one of the small towns affected by the disaster.

At the very beginning of this undeveloped project, I received an enthusiastic email from Gustavo Di Si, a new member of this newly forming group. He accepted, not only to participate, but also to provide his experience in the organization of events like these, providing a series of instructions. At first, when reading his message, I shared his enthusiasm, but then I felt worried about what was about to come… as I told him, even organizing a birthday party for a kid is a difficult task for me.

But we decided to go on! I contacted the person who would become the fourth member of our group, Christian Torres, president of my son’s school parents’ association, from the German School of La Serena. He would be in charge of the logistics in the City. He was a tremendous support. He was confident that the idea would work and we started planning everything with lots of energy. He mentioned details that scared me a little bit, for instance the amount of money that may be deducted to cover the cost of the activity … it didn’t seem a good idea to spend money that may help other people on technical stuff. But I trusted his judgment on these matters and he kindly offered the economical (and moral) support of the school’s parent’s association towards the event.

What makes this event unusual is the fact that Chilean people usually fly kites on Patriotic Holidays (18th September). But the kites that were to be flown had nothing to do with that celebration.And meanwhile … Fernando created a forum that was very successful amongst Spanish kite flyers and gained a lot of support. He was also planning the list of activities with Gustavo, who at the same time was checking the details in Spain. Christian asked permission for the event to take place and took care of all the aspects that I wasn’t familiar with to organize the kite Festival … at this point it was already a FESTIVAL …  it was named Elevando cometas y volantines. Elevando ilusiones tras el terremoto. (Flying kites. Flying to Raise hopes after the earthquake).

Christian was in charge of coordinating the team’s work, such as printing invitations, renting sound equipment, and organizing the help of secondary school students supporting the event, along with many other details I didn’t even know, because immediately after mentioning a problem he had a solution for it.

I, for my part, was looking for information on all the necessary procedures to obtain legal permission for enjoying this event at the beach (authorization from the Navy, Police logistical support, emergency medical service). Dozens of emails sent and received and the event beginning to take shape. How exciting! On occasions, there were disagreements, and even some misunderstandings. But despite problems with written communication, I want to stress how pleasant it is to work with people who are always willing to listen to you and to come to an agreement without conflict.

On Fernando’s arrival to La Serena, two weeks before the Festival, nothing could worry me, because everything had been planned with plenty of time and nothing had been left to chance. So we just spent our time with family. One day, in the week before the event, I woke up early in the morning for no reason… then a voice inside my head said “do you think the event is a long time away?? Well, you’re wrong!! There’s less than a week left!! But then my rationality was stronger than my anxiety and I calmly waited until “D” day.

In the meantime, we sent invitations to the families of the school community and spread the event information all over the city (supermarket and downtown stands, a local newspaper, my university’s radio program, private universities, facebook, and lots of emails to friends and neighbors so they could also forward them to their friends and neighbors) … the event was also promoted by word of mouth: I would inform anybody I met of the event. Salespeople, a caretaker, even a gas station attendant.

While organizing this activity, the most frustrating thing was to see that some parents didn’t show any interest in this charity event. They didn’t want to devote time to help us. I was ready to do it all by myself even if it meant putting in 200% effort. However, children were very enthusiastic about the event and a few teachers helped me. They reorganized their art lessons so children could paint kites to decorate the school gym. Mr. Pedro, the school caretaker, helped us a lot too; he hung up the donated banner promoting the event (and kept it safe from children).

And to be fair, the parents of two classes sold food and drinks that had been donated on the day of the event in the school and that way they added to the funds raised by the tickets

We were very grateful to hear about these kinds of contributions. The night before the event, I asked family friend (Marco) to help me count and order the kites donated by the Spanish. That’s how everything was ready for the kite assembling workshop, after the indoor flight demonstration.

Indoor flight – in the school 

That Friday, Fernando and I had agreed to pick up poor Gustavo Di Si from the airport, who had gotten up earlier than usual to travel from Buenos Aires that very day. Then, we went directly to the school. Once there and after a short speech given by the four of us (who afterwards nicknamed ourselves the fantastic four), the kite flyers assembled the stars of the evening: the indoor kites. Christian and I, together with school staff, started preparing the decoration, chairs, and the backdrop. Mr. Pedro, the caretaker, was once again a great help.

We stopped to have lunch and afterwards we starting working again on the decoration. At this stage, Andres Tolosa joined our group and participated actively (according to me). He is also part of the school parents’ association and helped with everything I needed with a lot of enthusiasm (stagehand, cashier, person in charge of sound equipment). His wife and children also helped us to put paper kites on the backdrop of the gym. Some parents I had asked to help me at the box office arrived late. In the meantime, another friend, Alejandra, took charge of it with Andres until they eventually arrived. She had not eaten lunch, had travelled to her house from the south, and was carrying a baby. Now that I look back on it, I really appreciate her effort.

When the demonstration finally started, I was in charge of recording and taking pictures of the event, behind the kite flyers. If I had had more hands I would have done a better job. And unfortunately I missed most of the activity from being behind the camera. But I had a great time hearing children’s exclamations of surprise or their screams with excitement when a kite was approaching them.

When the time for playing with kites came, everybody was willing to participate …. There was a lot of activity! Only the announcement of something really incredible (Gustavo Di Si flying a “flying trains”) persuaded them to get back to their seats. We weren’t mistaken; the flying train was really impressive.

Then, the still excited kids went to the kite assembling workshop, next to the flying zone inside the gym. The secondary school students in charge misunderstood our instructions which caused a mess.  The children were eager to start, but many secondary school students were absent and the few ones who were there were hardly able to cope with the kids.

But the good intentions were there!! And many parents helped their children. Lots of patient and young people gradually arrived to do the same. Immediately after assembling the kites, everybody went to fly them inside the gym and still more went out to the gardens at the school.

Before leaving the school, there was a prize drawing for kites donated by our friends in Spain. Children helped us to draw numbers and then left with their kites.

We felt we had accomplished our mission. We (Christian and his son Sebastian, Fernando, Gustavo Di Si, my son Diego and I) tidied up and then went to have some food.  We thought it was a very pleasant experience. Even though the second part was still to take place, we were happy with the joy experienced during the activities.

Outdoor flight – at the beach

After a good night’s rest and a morning doing housework, Christian and I met at the school to pick up the supports of the tape marking the zone where kites could be flown at the beach. When we got there, there were already lots of kite flyers!! A few minutes after, the guys in charge of the sound equipment arrived and we started installing loudspeakers and roping off the place (roping off a 45×100 m area with little concrete blocks –the supports- on dry sand is not an easy task).  Since Marco was already there, talking to Fernando, I ordered them to help us with the installation. A few minutes after, Andres arrived and we finished setting everything up very fast. Kite flyers went on with the activity and told people to come to the event. Little by little, families arrived to participate. Many of them arrived with kites that their children had won the day before.

This time, I asked Marco to film some flight demonstrations while I was taking some pictures and selling numbers for the drawing for over 30 kites that had not been raffled away at the school. We decided to sell numbers at the beach since it’s an open space with lots of people.

After selling many numbers, the first drawing started: many parents wanted to stay and participate, but didn’t bring their kites… and if we waited any longer, the temperature would start to fall and the parents would take their children with them.

So once again we told the guys to help us with the drawing and the number of kites in the sky rose. By that time, (and this is just a set of fond memories of which I don’t remember all the details) … the music was playing; the kite flyers were expressing their admiration and clapping. I received, with great joy, the parent’s congratulations for the original and beautiful event.

There was a last drawing for kites and we were about to say goodbye. The secondary school students helped us to take down the staging area and to remove garbage in order to leave the place as it was before.   As it began to grow dark; we took the last pictures … and went to rest with the first part of our mission completed.

The next step is to extend the aid to some of the most affected small towns in the Maule Region, in the central valley. The funds collected in the festival in Chile and in the drawing in Spain will be used for educational and hygiene materials, books, and games at kindergartens and schools so children can enjoy themselves despite the tragedy they survived. The trip is set for the weekend of May 21st. I’m very happy to go with my son Diego and my husband Ernesto.

Wow! Amazing

And now Fernando´s vision:

I always include kites in my travels and in this trip to La Serena, Chile, on April 2010 was not going an exception. We thought that could be a modest indoor demonstration at the German school gym, but the earth shook in southern Chile. The devastating effects of the earthquake did all astounded… and then we thought that we could take our kites to do something beautiful, exciting and collect some money that could help people affected by the disaster.

So, the idea started at that time. Therefore we commented our idea to some people who fly kites, and each one feed back theirs. The idea started up thanks to enthusiasm people who help around the world. I realized that I do not travel without lot of kites! With no doubt I could not organize too much alone. Soon, Monica Cisternas Fierro started to get a local support, and Gustavo from Argentina helps us offering come from Argentina to fly all kites that we want. From Spain, kite stores, clubs and pilots send us kite’s donations. Foro Cometas Info Forum from Spain raffled lot of great kites donated and founds collected were sent directly to responsible, in order to give it at schools affected by earthquake.

Gonzalez brothers made a great banner with the slogan and sponsors that contribute of this crusade: “Flying Kites and Volantines – Flying to raise hopes after earthquake”.

We get 170 kites, 110 of them were kits to do a workshops for the children and some to do a raffle in Chile on the spot. I have to add on my luggage my 30 kites to fly at festival. What a big one!

When I realize the kites volume I felt a little nervous … I could fit all the kites in my luggage? It will arrive at La Serena in a good condition? However, thanks to the encouragement from kite mates I did, arriving safety at La Serena City.

The school staff was enthusiastic about the idea. Teachers organized the workshop and made a beautiful kite’s mural painted. The mural was the background along the banner at the Windless Indoor show. In a few words: The organization was outstanding. On Friday morning, we enjoy the Colegio Alemán gym place. Kites could not expect to take off and fly!

Windless Indoor Festival opens at 5 PM the children were the protagonists. You could see the excitement on their faces and heard the astonish expressions when our kites fly over the head of them; everyone try to catch on excited moods. After that Gustavo and I call children to fly with no wind.

All of them flew by turns Focus one line kite. Few minutes later the workshop was started relaxing a bit their moods and came later to fly their creations at the gym. After workshops and demonstrations, Christian raffled kites creating an emotion´s environment. All children wanted one!

It was very special flying kites by turns with Gustavo. It was very funny and motivating; times up very soon; we flew one line kites, dual and Revos by sequence on a short choreography, 2 or 3 minutes giving to the audience the magic of fly. At the end of demos, Gustavo flew a spectacular 3 Revos Indoor stack that jumped the audiences from their seat. The sun shone, the warm arena, the amazing Pacific see say welcome to us. The music sound invited to fly. We decided to improvise freestyle, I with Nirvana and Gustavo with Revo 1.5.  

The highlight was multiple kites flying. I flew two and Gustavo three. For a few minutes people watched 2 pilots and 5 kites in the sky. Wow! Then Gustavo flew MKF freestyle with 3 Quantum Pros, doing lot of tricks. The applause came from the audience spontaneously.

Lot of people came with their own kites to fly asking us some advices. Most of them came with their kites gained on a raffle.  Also the organizer raffled kites on the beach and we can watch the winner unpacking and flying soon on the spot. So, all people exited could watch a kite color landscape in the sky! The whole families meet at the beach to enjoy the activities, and it was difficult to know who where enjoyed the most; children or parents?

My feelings:

It was a balm for my soul. It was amazing feel and see children very happy, motivated to participate from different activities, like a workshop, windless indoor, flying outdoor and so forth.

The Festival spontaneously generates assistance buying raffle, flying kites (Volantines), watching demos, and sharing feelings to others. It’s important to say that people from Spain started great support have a look at this link please:…&board=212.0

I could fly MKF in pares with Fernando, a talent pilot that fly MKF not long ago. It was a great experience to me. Chilean people could watch 5 kites and two pilots, like a color palette in the sky. Also we could fly Revolution in pares playing with children and adults at the beach. 

You know, on Friday the official Indoor opening at Colegio Alemán was at 5 PM and on Saturday at the beach was at 4 PM.  But for us, the Festival starts on Friday at 11:30 AM and on Saturday at 9:00 AM not stopping for lunch. Wow…!

The weather was great; smooth wind from north-west at 16 km/h, sunny day and warm temperature. The Pacific calm sea and lot of gulls and cormorants flying in flocks transmitted us a particular energy.

People walking and fished at the beach stooped to watch our kites flying, taking pictures and spoke to us. The sound was excellent; we decided to improvise with Fernando our flight demonstrations as music play. The audience, in family reunion, was well-disposed to participate in flight and workshops.

Have a look at those videos:

Sunday was another spectacular day similar to Friday and Saturday but this time with no Festival or kites, time to reflection… Guys, each event is unique, each feeling is unique, and that is why we have to live the moments intense… Eventually, Monica picks up Fernando and I on time at 11:30 because I am back to Buenos Aires. All of us went to find her husband and Diego, her son, in order to say “Bye” at the airport. In a mutual understanding, expressions of affection indicated the great time shared by us.

In what became the effort of those who collaborated?

On May 21, the families of Mónica, Ramirez – Villa and Mendoza – González made a trip to donate materials among schools affected by the earthquakes.

It was a trip along waving mountains rods of more than 400 Km. in order to arrive at those Schools: “Jardín Infantil de la Fundación Integra” located at Pencahue, and “Escuela Punta Diamante” located at San Clemente zones.

But not only brought with them materials that which meets the needs more visible.  They brought containment, support and love for those who feels helpless and powerless.  Good stuff!

More pictures at:…cometas-elevando-sue…chile.html

I would like to Thanks the sponsors which support this idea emerged from Spain and Chile: Colegio Alemán de La Serena, Municipalidad de La Serena, Lan, El Ventilador, Los hermanos González, Alamair, Haizaldi, Tienda Kiteparts, Equipo Imagina, Equipo C4Kite, Periódico El Día.

La Serena…see you soon!

Best Wishes,

Gustavo Di Si