It has been a long road leading to these first results, presented in such a contemporary communication media. I would like to mention some key people who supported me in kind and great fashion: Mrs. Eliana Aguilera and Mr. Héctor Araya, president and secretary for Atacama Bailes Religiosos Federation, respectively; Gaspar Quintana, Bishop in Copiapó; Doris Pons, in charge of the Diocese PRO Area; Eduardo Tapia, in charge of the Diocese Historic Archive till March 2010; Priests Adam Bartyzol, Elvidio Santander, and Fernando Vega; Tapia Bruno family, Nira Zapata, Hernán Gálvez, Marcela Cabrera, Georgina Sánchez, Elizabeth Zepeda, Gustavo Rojas; Wastavino family, from Caldera; Agustín Ruiz, Alejandro Albornoz and all those professionals who added to the making of this work, an affectionate acknowledgement to all of them.
Walking along this path, I met Guillermo Álvarez Muñoz, teacher of History, and a tireless human being who devoted most of his life to studying Atacama’s Bailes Religiosos. He passed away in January 2009, a month after having agreed to pursue this work with me, together. I was so shocked I wasn’t able to meet this challenge on my own. However, in Candelaria de Copiapó, 2009, after publicly reading the letter I wrote the night I learned about his death, Bailes Religiosos friends came to me affectionately, urging me to keep going. And so I did, amigo Guillermo, I continued walking this way, and, after a tremendous effort, I present this work to the whole community. This is my gift to you. Thanks very much for all those things you taught me, and thanks very much also to your wonderful family. Likewise, I thank my mother, Alicia, for giving me birth and supporting all my moves even till now; and to Ximena, my wife, for stimulating my creative capacity, and for her patience, help, and love.
Last, but not least, I would like to express that having the possibility of being with this people day-by-day, side-by-side with them, dining with them, talking about their lives, their faith and devotion, their spiritual connection with the divinity, the amazing effort of humble people performing a work coming from the roots of the culture they carry as a heritage from their ancestors. I confess this as a luxury, the chance of experiencing these five years knowing Atacama region, a place of valleys, ravines, high golden mountains, a place where balance is precarious, a place marking the beginning of the south frontier of the driest desert in the world, home of unique species, where water is blue, light blue, turquoise, deep blue, almost black; and there are yellow sands with cliffs and millennial fossil remainers, whales, dolphins, penguins, delicious fruits, and lagoons almost touching the sky… a wonderful site in this planet, as you can see.
Thus, I’d like to acknowledge to all of you, my dear friends from all Bailes Religiosos, for accepting me in this path, talking to me, witnessing the tears in your eyes while dancing, and admiring your tireless lineage throughout every procession. It is a privilege for me, that’s why I feel deeply from the inside that this modest work, by this humble servant, was made with, for, and because of you, to praise the art you offer, fest by fest to the community.